The Dreaded Blank Page

Wednesday, March 05, 2008
A lot of writers dread a blank page, and it gives quite a few writers' block. A blank page gets a writer no where. One of my favorite sayings goes something like this: "You can revise a terribly written page, but you can not revise a blank page." Even Tim McGraw weighs in on this topic with his song, "Blank Sheet of Paper." McGraw sings of a poor sap who doesn't know how to write an apology letter to his sweetheart, and so she never knows he's sorry. It is a terribly sad song about an unwritten letter. We do not want blank pages in our personal lives and definitely not as writers. But what are some ways to avoid them?

Another one of my favorite sayings goes something like this, "Practice the ABCs of writing--Apply Butt to Chair." If our behinds stay at our desks in front of our computers, maybe we'll actually write something. This is no guarantee as computers have many wonderful time wasters on them such as checking email and playing solitaire. But with our butts in the chairs, that's a start.

Just the other day I was talking to a writer about this problem. She had a story idea but hadn't written in months. She had no confidence and was doubting she was even a writer. My advice to her was to just write the story that was in her head. It didn't have to be good. It didn't even have to make sense to another person. The most important thing was getting the story on her computer or in her notebook and getting rid of the blank pages.

Some writers will not stop writing for the day until they have typed a few sentences onto the next page. Then when they get ready to work the next day, they are not staring at a blank page. They are staring at a half-written page, and for some reason, this makes all the difference.

So, basically the best way to get rid of the blank page is NOT to throw it away or never open your word processing program again. The best way to get rid of a blank page is to write, even if it sucks. No one ever has to see that draft--except you after you've been busy revising.

No more blank pages!
Margo Dill


Angela Mackintosh said...

Great advice, Margo!

As a previous professional painter and art gallery owner, there is nothing more inspiring and intimidating than a blank canvas. At least with MS Word, you can hit "undo" ;o)

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