When A Blank Page Is The Scariest Thing A Writer Can Face

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Writing is in my blood. Whether I’m typing on a keyboard or writing with a pen, I always feel this driving urge to express what I want to say. It’s both therapeutic and a way to bring your imagination to life through words. I find writing an essential part of my life, just like the air I breathe.

Being a writer isn’t easy though. I’ve been blogging for over a year now and there are days when ideas and topics for new blog posts keep overflowing to the point I feel as if I need to plug a stopper into my brain. Then there are those days when the well dries up and you’re lucky if you can find a drop of inspiration at the bottom. When I encounter dry spells like this during the writing process, those are times I sit myself in front of a computer and stare at a blank screen until I can yank something from the deep, dark corners of my mind.

A new Word document of pure white is terrifying for a writer. At least for me. It’s paralyzing when you’re coming into writing without a plan or some kind of outline. Usually when I have an idea of what I want to write about, I start typing and seeing where my thoughts take me. I don’t stop. Words keep pouring out until there’s nothing left for me to write…er…type. It doesn’t matter if the draft I have is rough and barely makes sense. That’s what editing is for. The important thing is to have something typed out. You can always iron out the rest later. When you have no idea what you want to talk about or how to continue a story, you’re just left with yourself and no road map to get to where you want to go.

Blogging and creative writing are different. I know there is a measure of creativity that goes into blogging. You want to make sure what you talk about is engaging to get others to continue reading. When you blog you are mainly discussing facts or stating opinions. Creative writing involves an exercise in using your imagination to create original characters, worlds, and plots. What you write will be entirely your own, and no one can really take that from you. The map of where you intend your story to go is all stored in your head, waiting for you tap into it and fill a screen with those words.

I used to write creatively all the time. I thought of short stories and drafted a few original pieces based on whatever inspired me at the time. A few years ago, long before I committed myself to blogging regularly, I drafted the first few pages of a fantasy novel I wanted to write. I had a basic idea of how I wanted to start it and where it will gradually go. I faithfully went to the computer each day I had some free time to continue it. Due to a thing called life and other personal matters interfering with my time, I stopped writing it.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about that one novel that’s still in its early stage of development and one I haven’t bothered to try to finish. The Word document is safely saved on my computer and on a thumb drive somewhere in my room. As much as I’ve been thinking about that little novel of mine, I haven’t had the guts to find it on my computer, open it up, and try to read what I have managed to type those years ago.

In this case, it isn’t so much a blank page keeping me from opening up that Word document containing my story, it’s the idea of trying to fill the next available space with a continuation of that story is what terrifies me the most. Is it a fear of failing to come up with an amazing direction for my characters and story? Am I afraid to discover I may have written a piece of garbage? Is it laziness? Maybe it’s a sense of feeling like you’re not a good enough writer? It’s quite possibly all these things and more. Writers have been known to be their own worst critics and it isn’t too far from the truth.

I find blogging a lot easier to keep doing each week than it is trying to pick up the keyboard and see if I can write that novel I want to write. I haven’t tried writing a small creative drabble to just get the gears moving. It’s ironic how the one thing I enjoy the most and I used to do often during my free time and in school is the same thing that’s keeping me from conquering my fear and just write as if today is the last day I’ll ever get to write.

Will I get over this irrational fear that’s currently ailing me? I’m not entirely sure. The remedy to my fear of writing creatively again isn’t so obvious to me at the moment. I only hope I’ll overcome it and type with as much abandon as I do with blogging.

Has any writer or blogger ever experienced what I’m going through? How do you deal with it? Is it a matter of forcing yourself to write until something comes spilling forth, or do you simply wait until you’re ready to tackle a blank page again?

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14 thoughts on “When A Blank Page Is The Scariest Thing A Writer Can Face”

  1. Simpleek, you’ve been reading me for a long time….. I write as I think, or think as I write, and you can tell I don’t even edit. In other words, what you see is what you get, he he.

    1. Everyone writes differently. Although whenever I write, I edit what I write quite obsessively. Sometimes even after I hit the publish button, I’m still not satisfied! I tend to think there’s more I could have said or written better.

  2. Free writing is the best tool any creative write can use. Give yourself a window of time before hand where you can free write just random nonsense. Listening to different genres of music, doing the dishes, or even going for a car ride. I prefer to do the dishes while listening to an array of music, for some reason it gets my creative juices flowing.

    1. Free writing is a good idea. For some reason, I haven’t tried to sit down one day with an open journal and just write what comes to mind. I also think the fear might be coming from being a bit rusty on the creative writing front. I really need to dive right in again. I also do like listening to music while I write. I can’t seem to write without it.

      1. I used to write in a journal all the time. I think what I have found most useful for myself with my writing these days is two stop defining the lines between what creative writing is, and what structure writing it is. Once I managed to blur those lines I gave myself a lot more freedom creatively. It’s as if the fear of being judged for lack of structure scared me.

  3. Sometimes writing is just plain hard work! I tend to get inspired in waves so when I get an idea, it’s almost like turning on a faucet… the ideas don’t stop. But staring at a blank screen with no inspiration is frustrating, especially when you “want” to write something. Sometimes free writing works for me if I have something personal I’d like to get off of my chest. But there are several times when I just have to get away from my computer and do something else.

    That’s usually when the creativity returns. We all have different methods!

    1. Agreed. Like you pointed out, you sit in front of your computer and you know you want to write, but the words you want to type seem to fail you. I have an easier time finding something to write about for my blog and others, but trying to write my story again is much harder for me. Maybe all it takes is giving yourself a break from writing or doing something else until inspiration strikes again!

  4. Great post! I relate to this so much. I used to do creative writing all the time, but the older I get, the harder it is. I guess my inner critic has gotten louder in my old age, and as you mentioned, time is more of an issue now. Blogging has been a great outlet for me when I want to write something, but now I get “writer’s block” there sometimes too! And then, like Crystal said above, sometimes it’s like turning on a faucet and all the ideas come at once. =)

    1. Thanks! 🙂 You might be onto something when you say old age makes it harder for us to do creative writing. Maybe it’s because we have more things to deal with in our lives than we did when we were younger like jobs, family, personal matters, and having a social life outside of the computer that it’s too hard to focus on writing something truly spectacular. I also agree blogging can be a challenge to come up with great ideas to discuss. Somehow, I manage to find a topic to write about even as I feel the ideas start to dry up a little.

  5. I second, third, and fourth the above comments! I don;t think there’s a writer alive who hasn’t stared at a blank screen or page and wondered what in the world s/he is gong to write about next. I haven’t done creative writing in *years,* and I can say that I’ve missed it all that much. Since I started blogging, I can’t say I’ve had writer’s block as much as writer’s flood. I sit down to write with way too many ideas in mind and it’s hard to focus on just one. But when that one right idea jumps ahead of the others, I can tell it’s right because suddenly I’ve written three pages without even realizing it!

    1. I can relate to that! When I have a really great idea for a blog topic, I find myself typing at a furious pace until I have said everything I ever wanted to say on the subject. I think from my experience with blogging, my ideas come in waves. There are days when ideas keep flooding endlessly that I have to write them down so I won’t forget to come back to them later. Other times, it’s a small trickle and I’m searching my brain for more ideas. That’s great that blogging has kept giving you a flood of ideas to choose from. 🙂

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