There you are. A blank page stares back at you. The cursor blinks at you, dares you to move words across the page. You sit, wait for the words.
You drum your fingers on the desk; scroll through songs on your music player; adjust you seat; get up and walk around; you do anything to get your mind off the cursor’s dare.
Why is this task you’ve done many times before suddenly so daunting? Where have all your words gone? What story are you trying to keep captive?
I am reminded of a quote by Julia Cameron in her book The Right to Write: “Writing is about getting something down, not about thinking something up.” That’s just it—it’s already there. The words you’re looking for, the story you want to tell, the characters you want to introduce to the world, they’re right there waiting for you to get them down. You already have it in you so there’s no need to think them up.
Too often as writers we feel the challenge of the blank page. It haunts as though we are seven years old afraid of the dark. We don’t need a nightlight because this is a fear we’ve conquered before. Many times. Yes, it is always a little unnerving going into a new project. It’s like trying to muster up the guts to jump out the window of a burning building even while staring at the net just a few feet below.
But the idea of the project ahead of you, the joy it’s going to bring as your fingers move those words across the page and the story unfolds before your eyes is enough to abandon procrastination and fear. The impending release is exhilarating, motivating, and damn near erotic. It’s addicting. You want more of it, need more of it. Now, instead of staring at the blank page, words are staring back at you. No more dares from the cursor; words are moving so fast they can’t catch their breath.
A blank page staring back at you can be quite intimidating. But the true scary part is allowing the blank page to keep you from ever starting–whether it’s your first, second, or hundredth time.
One page at a time.
You’ll eventually see the blank page as your motivation.
Julia Cameron also says, “When we forget ourselves, when we let go of being good and settle into just being a writer, we begin to have the experience of writing through us.”
Not only are we telling a story, we are being transformed on the inside by our audacity to write. The words are just as much us as we are the words.
The blank page is more about who we are, not who we are not. It is a mirror. Look at it—look at yourself—and write what you see.