My Love/Hate Relationship With The Blank Page

As someone who loves to write it could be reasonably implied that I love blank pages.  They should be like a large slab of stone just waiting for me to give it shape and turn it into something greater than it currently is.  Due to the way I write I only see the “Blank Page” right before I start my new story (the rest of the time there is a partial story or note on every page).  So whenever I see a blank page I am on the cusp of bringing a completely new universe to life.  Unfortunately this is also the reason I hate the blank page.

I’m not the type of writer that just “dives in”, I know a few of them & would be lying if I didn’t say I envied them.  I’m the type of writer that will get an idea, walk around pondering the idea to see if there is an actual story contained within, then begin writing copious amounts of notes and then start crafting it into a story.  So most of the time when I sit down to begin my writing I have a pretty good idea of where the story is going and a rough idea of how I plan on getting there.  Then I see the blank page.

It just sits there staring back at me.  Dismissing my story.  Slightly raising a questioning eyebrow when I assure it that I know what I’m doing.  Laughing at my futile attempts of an opening line.  Shaking it’s head in utter disappointment when the opening chapter of my book, which I have been crafting in my head for at least a couple of weeks, falls flat on its face.  The blank page represents the moment right before I attempt to turn this amazing story in my mind, into a flawed work-in-progress that I will nurse for several months/years until I either give up or it becomes the thing I first imagined.

The blank page comes to represent everything I love and hate about writing.  The joy of creating something out of nothing.  The joy of creating characters that end up taking me places and becoming people I would never have imagined when I first put pen-to-paper.  It also promises hard times.  It promises that at some point in time I will doubt the story, doubt the characters, and doubt my own ability.  It promises that there will be times I want to give up, times when I will throw it to the side knowing & wanting to come back but not having the strength to.

The blank page contains both hope and despair.  Creation and destruction. Yet I believe that great writers will stare right back at that blank page without blinking, take a deep breath, place their hands gently on the keyboard, and do the one thing all of us feels we were born to do, write.


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Filed under Writing

22 responses to “My Love/Hate Relationship With The Blank Page

  1. Puddin

    I always feel like the start of something new–a new post, a new story, a new chapter–is like a first date. It’s kind of awkward and you’re simultaneously both excited and yet a little terrified. As time/work progresses, you mark the good parts and cringe at the bad. In the end you pray you didn’t screw it up so badly nothing can come of it.

    Sometimes, just sometimes, it all works out right, and it’s the greatest feeling in the world.

  2. You Should Re-Post this on The Dark Globe, it would be good for our Writing The Craft Section.


  3. Since I write about my life, the page doesn’t stay blank for very long. I ponder how to enter into a story. Once that is done, the rest seems to write itself because, in a way, it’s already been written. I’ve lived with these stories all my life.

    Writing fiction is another animal altogether I would imagine. I don’t write fiction and admire anyone who does, and does it well.

    • I guess that is why they say Write What You Know! Unfortunately for me the only things I know are various 80’s trivia, video games, and the complete listing of Hostess snacks :-p

  4. That was all very true and an excellent post. On one hand the blank page taunts, on the other, it’s just waiting for that story.

  5. Beautifully written as always and totally sums up the way the blank page makes me feel.

  6. Oh yes! The blank page holds me captive. I’m not a diver either – I need time to think the story over before words hit paper. I don’t want to give the blank page any opportunity to ridicule my failure!

  7. Try this as an exercise. Instead of writing on a computer, pick up a notebook/legal pad and hand write. Just your notes and your random thoughts. Don’t worry about your handwriting, just let anything and everything you think fall on the page.

    I’ve found this opens me up a lot. With a computer, my inner-editor keeps screaming and snarling at everything I do. Because it is so easy to backspace and tweak and then get frustrated.

    Me personally, I’ve even started to hand write my novel. I transcribe it later and use that as my initial editing pass. Great stuff.

    • Good idea!
      I need to force myself to just WRITE & not listen to that inner-editor, but that dude can get loud. I was told long along for your first draft you just throw everything onto the paper & then sort it out in your later drafts. I’m really going to have to adopt that!

  8. Fantastic post! I agree, the blank page is both completely frightening and completely exciting. Frustrating and tempting. It’s the calm before the storm, the moments before everything happens. Good luck with your bank page!

  9. Adriana Ryan

    I feel your pain! A blank page can be absolutely paralyzing to me. That’s why I just start typing, to get rid of that “blankness.” I’ve read that artists will swipe a paint-laden brush across a blank canvas to get rid of paralysis. I guess that’s sort of what I do. I’m not a pantser at all–outlining and pondering is the way for me! Don’t feel bad. 🙂

  10. So, uhm, I was thinking about writing a novel. Now, I’m having an inner dialogue with my yet-to-be-started novel. It’s laughing at me. GAH!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog, btw 🙂

  11. The blank page can definitely be difficult to look at sometimes! It’s nice to hear your positive approach to it as well, though. The idea of creating a new universe from it. Usually when you hear “the blank page” it implies something so scary and negative.

    Anyway, I really enjoy your blog, so I nominated you for this Sunshine award that’s floating around the blogosphere. Thanks for being awesome! here

  12. I tend not to have a problem starting. I get the blank page feeling you describe at least once, at any given point, part way through a story. It terrifies me. Sometimes I just soldier on. Sometimes it’s almost impossible.

    Great post. Thanks for sharing!

  13. You’re right: The longer you stare at a blank page, the scarier it gets. I have what can only be called The Rush It technique. I get the coffee, etc. all ready, turn on the computer, and the very instant that new document opens I start typing – anything! Anything at all. I know I will probably have to discard at least 50% of the stuff and do at least another 6 drafts more of it than the rest of the story, so I don’t worry. I just rave. Eventually, the writing settles down and starts to flow, and all’s well. Everybody’s different, though. What works for me mightn’t work for someone else.

  14. tkristenparker

    The blank page represents infinite choices, so I try to look at it as making a choice and going forward having faith that some nugget of deliciousness will present itself.

  15. I am the same way! I currently have two short stories rattling around in my head. They’ve been there for months as I try to figure out what to do with them, OR if there is anything worthwhile to put onto paper.

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