The Blank Page

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By Henry McLaughlin

Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.  –William Faulkner

How many of us hesitate to start writing? Even authors who have been at it for a while have this hesitation.

This is sometimes referred to a writer’s block. Which I think is a falsehood.

Sometimes, writer’s block comes because we have no idea what to write next.

Sometimes, it comes out of fear. Like the fear we can’t write, that we’re only deluding ourselves if we think we have talent. Or the fear our story is junk that no one will ever want to read.

It’s the fear of failure.

I think Faulkner gives wise advice in the quote above.

There are times that blank page stares back, accusing and ridiculing. Our fingers freeze over the keyboard. And we let it defeat us. This has happened to me over and over. When it does, I turn away and go do something else. And when I come back the page is still empty.

That’s what happened this week. I’m revising my work in progress. When I look at my notes of what needs to be fixed, the page lies there, daring me to come up with something.

I’ve tried to write this blog several times without success. Ideas wouldn’t come or, if they did, I’d dismiss them as trite.

I skimmed my folder of ideas, rejecting one after the other, until I found this quote from Faulkner. The simple truth of it smacked me upside my head.

A blank page is a dark hole. A page with words on it is something I can work with. It may stink, but I can see it and tweak and rewrite until it’s something worthwhile.

So the key is to write. Something. Anything. One sentence may trigger a whole chapter that will take our story in a new and better direction. Write an incident from our protagonist’s past. Something that happened before the story began. It may reveal a new aspect to explore and develop. It may show the story world in an entirely new light, one that peels back layers to show deeper insights into our story.

As Nora Lofts says, “I can fix a bad page. I can’t fix a blank page.”

What are some of the things you do to overcome a blank page?

How do you overcome the blank page by Henry McLaughlin @riverbendsagas #ACFWBlogs #writing Click To Tweet

Henry McLaughlin’s debut novel, Journey to Riverbend, won the 2009 Operation First Novel contest. He serves as Associate Director of Story Help Groups (formerly North Texas Christian Writers). Besides writing fiction, Henry edits novels, leads critique groups, and teaches at conferences and workshops. He enjoys mentoring and coaching individual writers.




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