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Sunday, October 04, 2009


Blank Pages

Staring at a blank screen can bring out a multitude of different feelings. One could have a deadline looming, yet have writer's block. Another writer could have had a page written, only to find out it did not save onto a disk or hard drive.

For some reason, however, a lot of the time, a blank page is what we need. A new beginning of sorts. A place to tinker, a place to create, a place to find inner peace.

Occasionally, I will open a second file after I've done what my high school English teacher called a stage of "verbal vomit." All the ideas are on a page, but no order, no sense, or at least, so it seems. The blank page or the new document file is there for me to piecemeal "vomit" into something better, something less grotesque, and something more palatable for an audience.

Sometimes, however, the second file or blank page is like my brain's attempt at running away or blowing off steam. I'm keen on limericks and childish rhymes. Sometimes, that blank page is not a Microsoft Word document, but Paint or some other one, where I can get the artistic juices flowing and the giggles too. It makes the writing process less onerous.

However, the blank page I am so looking forward to next weekend (when I finally have my shot at a writing vacation of sorts thanks to a college fall break) is of the third variety. I'm using those blank pages to get some academic writing down that has been in me for way too long. I am going to find that inner peace by taking advantage of some opportunities, which could open doors for me in my academic discipline and career path, both of which place high emphasis on getting published not just to build a reputation and to have credentials/credibility, but to preserve data and history before it is lost.

More importantly, for me, this blank page will hopefully provide validation that the brain is still agile and the ability to feel like an anthropologist (in thought, at least) is there, despite not being at the educational or career track level I desire to be at just yet. I'm just too frustrated not knowing and want to fill some blank pages and turn anew to another round of projects, in hopes of someday having a professional portfolio assembled. Needless to say, I am excited about the different projects which I may be starting the next few days.

That said, however, I still would love to hear about all of your experiences and feelings about blank pages and blank computer screens. What do you take away from your experiences with them and what do you make out of them? Opportunity or diversions?


Blogger Hermione said...

Blank pages are daunting to me, and I find I often have to work up the courage just to get typing. I find myself saying over and over to myself, "Just let it happen. Just type. Don't edit it. Just type." I suppose, for me, a mantra helps in alleviating the stress of a blank page!

I agree with your observation that blank pages allow for a writer to feel like an anthropologist. In regards to my new blogging project, it has helped me to come to terms with the situations I find myself in - occupational hazards mostly. I find myself observing more, participating less, so I can fill in those fresh blank pages with even more thought.

8:53 AM  
Blogger Analisa said...

I love blank pages...but really blank not the page in my work in progress, but the new thing. I like the challenge. If someone says we are taking stories on ____. That blank page excites me. Like pretty stationary I want to fill up the space with words. Pour something on it that time may absorb or not. Just a new idea. It is like exercise, the more you do of it the easier it becomes.

The trick for me is that I don't log on without an idea. I really don't understand that process. I don't open word up and say. Ok think of something. Creativity starts in the brain, then moves into the body for outlet, not the other way around, in my opinion anyway.

11:13 AM  
Blogger Virginia said...

Blank pages are wonderful and frightening. I love the blank page of a journal, the way fresh paper smells. A blank page on my computer screen isn't quite as much fun but at least I can type fast and pretend what I'm writing isn't crap!

I've learned to give the blank page less weight and mystery than it used to hold for me. It doesn't frighten me quite as much as it used to - I've learned to give myself permission to write crap, knowing I will clean it up later. That has been very freeing.

6:52 AM  
Anonymous Aggie Villanueva said...

I love the blank page. It's a fresh start and could be the best thing I've ever written. I'm like Analisa. By the time I open up Word, my words are tumbling all over themselves.

But that's because I usually approach my writing session by reading online about anything that inspires me. If I'm do that I never fail to have inspiration when I open up the page.

Thankx for the chance to share!

4:44 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

I only open up a new page when I have a story to put down, or at the very least, an outline.
If I don't have an idea, I will stare at the screen and generally feel hopeless!

6:22 PM  
Blogger Alison said...

Thanks for your comments and varied insights into a blank page. I have to admit, I felt a little bit of everything when I was staring at a blank screen before writing my blog post for you all!

6:30 PM  
Blogger Horrible Sanity said...

Great post! I wrote about "The Power of a Black Piece of Paper" not too long ago on my blog.

Stop by and check it out when you get a chance...I think it ties into this post wonderfully.

2:20 PM  
Blogger Alison said...

Indeed, but your post "The Power of a Black Piece of Paper" is much more elegant/poetic than my post here is! Great job and great insight. I liked your perspective on the experience we all encounter.

6:02 PM  
Anonymous angie mizzell said...

I had a similar experience this week. I was under a deadline, cutting and pasting pieces of "vomit" and feeling very frustrated at how "blocked" I was. I kept reminding myself that the essay had something to teach me, too. I found the inspiration and words to finish it after I got up and walked away from it (several times over several days). I found it interesting that the words came to me during mundane tasks and chaos of my everyday life.

5:07 AM  

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