Friday, September 30, 2016

Fear of "the Blank Page"?

# “I'm just staring at the ceiling, staring back at me…” # - Counting Crows

...illusive and always just lingering on the horizon...
There is a myth, that stretches back into the far reaches of time itself, into the annals of decades gone by, a legend so ingrained in our psyche that as writers, perhaps more so than the average person you pass on the street, it takes hold of our very core and teases us with its own existence.  It’s not a tangible thing, most myths aren’t, but its power still has a hold on us with every authorly breath we take… And what is this fantastical phantasm of which I speak (and have been treading water, to skirt around it, properly procrastinating, for this first post paragraph) …? It is of course, the myth of WRITERS’ BLOCK!


It’s a fear for all writerly-types, I guess.  When you first decide you want to be a writer, it’s not really a problem. You have all the ideas in front of you, every note you’ve scribbled in your lunch hour, every tidbit of your narrative that you’ve thought about for so long and wanted to unleash onto your computer screen as you finally sit down to write your masterpiece. But what happens next?  After that great tome is finally finished?  After you’ve drafted and redrafted that great love of your life, once you’ve accomplished all you set out to do with that FIRST story?  Are you going to be a one-hit-wonder or will you knuckle down and get on with the hard work of a second story, one which you haven’t necessarily poured so much time and tears into for the last however so long...?

This is a question that has been on my mind for the past year or so since finishing what I’m considering the final redraft (for now) of my first adventure novel. But as scribblers, don’t you find that you can procrastinate about anything given enough time and space to worry?  So the worry of actually “catching” a bout of writer’s block can be destructive in itself… (It’s a kind of a fear of fear itself kind of thing!)

Get in the habit of building bridges between bouts of writing
Probably the best way I’ve found to combat this is to put a name to it, and face it head on.  Easier said than done, right? But you can start this process by simply accentuating the positive, as that old song goes… Try to see the prospect of a blank page as an exciting one, full of adventurous possibilities, and just… GET ON WITH IT – begin the writing process and just KEEP GOING, resisting the temptation to go back and edit what you’ve written, just get a first draft out and worry about changes and finessing it all at a later date… But if you start the whole thing with a glass-half-empty attitude, you’re already on a back foot going in and probably won’t get very far once self-doubt grabs hold of you…

Change your setting for writing
Having said all that, I personally swing between bouts of explosive creativity and long periods of “thinking about writing”…  But it’s these explosions of creative scribbles that I just live for and makes this 'life creative' all the more worth it. You just have to remind yourself that even the most successful authors probably aren’t creative 100% of the time they sit and write.

I guess the final thing I could add to all of the above is that I always find it useful to remind myself of more productive times – back on an adventurous trip to Japan in 2009, for instance, I had an explosion of scriptwriting to write a prequel to my multiple choice outer-space story... That's still a work in progress too but looking back, that sudden bout of creativity was perhaps achieved because I'd lifted myself out of my everyday surroundings and was plonked into a wildly different setting to allow my brainwaves to think a little differently to normal.  Now that's not saying you have to travel as far as the land of the rising sun, but a change of scenery never did anyone any harm for whatever they're trying to change in their life, right?

This idea of looking back at when you've been creative in the past to spark a future infusion of creativity, is also where working on editing my original short stories for my forthcoming anthology comes in handy too.  And speaking of which, next month, as a kind of “Part 2” to this post, there’ll be an exclusive story from that very collection…



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