While recently perusing blogs maintained by other scribes, I came across one in which the writer detailed his fear of the blank page (or, should it be screen?). He waxed poetic about the “emptiness” of the page, of how it taunts him and seemingly “dares” him to put that first word down. There is, he wrote, “something infinite” about the whole thing. A number of readers left comments, stating similar thoughts. I don’t get it. While I agree that starting a writing project can be a daunting undertaking, I’ve never lived in fear of a page—blank or otherwise. To me, it’s like a motorcyclist saying he’s scared of the open road. If you’re a writer, why fear a tool of the trade?
Yes, I believe writing is a craft and a special skill not everyone possesses, but I’ve never been one to over-analyze the process. Words take shape in my head, and I put them on paper. This is not an effort to simplify writing or make light of the hard work authors put into their stories, it’s simply how I view things. Yes, I fuss over what I’m doing and fret over sentences, but I never dread a blank page.
If you have a story to tell and are anxious to purge it from your system, the page is there to help you. I don’t feel it taunting me or daring me to do anything. It’s simply a blank palette you bring to life. So, get your hands on that keyboard—or grab that pen—and get some words down! As I’ve stated in previous posts, who cares if what you write is terrible? You can clean it up later.
Before I commence any new book project, I always make sure I know how the story starts. Not until I have an opening figured out in my head do I sit down to write. By the time I situate myself at the keyboard, I’m desperate to type—hence, the page never stays blank for long. If you consider the blank page as this massive obstacle you have to overcome, you’re setting yourself up for difficulties before you even start. Think of the page, instead, as the outlet that will let you tell your story. A friend of mine, who happens to fear the page, dictates his opening passages into a tape recorder and then transcribes them. This guarantees he has something to write when he fires up his computer.
I guess, in short, I’m trying to say that if you know what you’re going to write, there’s no point being scared of a blank computer screen or a fresh page in your journal. What I worry about is whether the story I’m telling is any good. The greatest fear for me when writing is losing interest in the subject matter. That’s something you can’t overcome and is ultimately the kiss of death.