The Stories Begun

{July 21, 2010}   The tyrant known as the blank page.

Seriously, just stare at a blank page for a while.  Especially on a particularly non-creative day.  The page begins to haunt you and take over your life!  The worst is when you are having a creative day, a brain teeming with ideas, and as soon as that blank page is before you, the ideas run for cover.

These are the days that all those little exercises to “inspire” you are annoying enough to make you want to throw things (as opposed to every other day when those exercises are just idiotic).  The blank page wins once more.

So how do you combat the blank page tyrant?  There are a few things I’ve done.  They’re all effective at different levels and at different times.

  • Reading:  If there is source material, I often find it helpful to re-read it.  Sometimes all it takes to overcome the blank page is an article or story.  Sometimes it takes a thorough re-read of everything.
  • Notes:  This one works well on its own and with reading.  I’ll write down one or two word phrases (often a chronological list of events (creative) or paragraph topics (essay)) with a carriage return after each.  This identifies each thought as a separate thought, which is surprisingly helpful.  I can jump around the list, rearrange it, add to it, or otherwise amend it (conflation is a popular option).  If I find the need to read source material, I do the exercise as I re-realize the ideas that I lost.
  • Borrowing text to fill the page:  Worse comes to horrible, there is little crime in borrowing text (related or unrelated, I prefer the former) to fill a page or two.  Illusion is an extremely helpful tool in many a profession.  There is no reason not to allow it to become a tool in the writing profession. (However, I am obligated to say: BE SURE NOT TO PLAGIARIZE!!!)
  • Music:  This is my last resort.  I usually listen to music non-specifically during my writing sessions.  If I must, though, I create a specific playlist having to do with the subject(s) at hand and put it on random.  Often times this directs the piece to another path than the one I expected or planned, because I have introduced another set of source material.  Being the control freak that I am, I don’t always like it, but that’s what re-writes are for!

What do you use to combat the blank page?

Good luck in the war against the tyrant!


By the by, my computer is back!  It’s been back since Monday.  So why, you may ask, is the blog late?  Simple: thunderstorms of epic proportions=unplugged computer AND wireless internet.  😦  At least both my weekly blogs got up today.  One on time, one late.


loveofonearmy says:

I agree fully with the reading and re-reading, altho i do find music a bit more inspirational then a final resort. I tend to just let the characters lead me which tends to reek havoc, alas 🙂 Yay for the return of the computer!!! more writing one would hope?

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