How to Beat the Blank Page
We ask ourselves, “What happened to the great scene that was floating around in my head just yesterday evening?” We make an excuse to get away from the screen, figuring, in a little while, the muse will show up and all will be well. Meanwhile, three hours later, after making cookies and watching a couple of shows on Netflix, were lying in bed reading a book with tears welling in our eyes, “God, another day without writing. I’m a failure! Why do I even try?”
Curse you blank page!
No one but us writers seem to understand why the blank page is such a terrifying adversary. I’m sure it has doomed many a budding career. Fortunately, I have developed a method to whip it.
I’ve discussed writing in bursts before. This is a method where you don’t write in complete thoughts, rather just write down little snippets of narrative as they come to you. This is how I beat the dreaded white page—every single time..
Foremost, what we are looking for, is to get past the first 10-15 minutes of writing. This is how long it takes someone to get into the so called “zone.” You know—where the pump is finally primed and the words are flowing like so much water from the faucet.
- Pull up that dreaded blank page. Stare at it. Don’t be afraid of it, because in a second, its ass is going to be kicked.
- Yesterday, or the day before, or sometime this morning when you were in the shower, a scene was in your head. You may not remember all of it, but I bet you remember at least one snippet of it. Write that down. It doesn’t matter what it is. It can be a short description. It can be a line of dialogue. It may not be a complete sentence. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be all that good.
- Oh look, the page is no longer blank. Score one for you. Think back on that scene. Write something else you remember about it. Again, it doesn’t matter what it is. Also, this is important— the snippets don’t have to be in order of appearance of the scene. Just write it down. Double space-it helps fill up the blank page. Also, don’t edit. Keep the fingers going.
- Rinse and repeat. Soon, you will have a string of bits of your scene. It won’t make sense to anyone but yourself, but that’s fine. After about 10-15 minutes of this, you will find that the muse has suddenly returned and you are in the zone.
- Feel free to go back and put your little snippets in order of appearance. I would suggest keeping them double spaced. As you put them in order, you will find more snippets come to you. Write them down. Put them in order of appearance. Feel free to enlarge your original snippets as things come to you or join snippets with other snippets if they go together.
- Voila. No more blank page! Also, I bet you anything by the time you are finished, you have a pretty good rough draft for a scene.
WIP Update: After kicking a lot of blank page ass this last week, I’m pretty pleased with my progress. I’ve set a goal of finishing my bursts for the story’s main character by the end of the month, but I’m getting stuck on the plot toward the very end (the story’s climax). I’m not really sure what happens exactly. I may need to blog about this next week.