The blank page
November 19, 2010
In the old days we wrote or typed our books on sheets of paper. When we got to the end of a page, we either turned to a new page and kept writing or we rolled a fresh piece of paper into our typewriter and started the new page.
Every time we finished a page we were confronted by a new, completely empty sheet of paper just waiting for our words. Some writers saw promise in this new page. It could become anything. Perhaps this page would contain needed exposition or maybe it would house a fast-paced witty exchange. It could be the turning point in the story or a temporary resolution. The possibilities are endless. For some writers the vast array of opportunity is overwhelming. They look at that pristine piece of paper and are unable to write.
The first blank sheet of the day was the one that so many writers found intimidating. How do you start up from a dead stop? At least when you start up a new piece of paper after finishing another you have some velocity. What you were writing on the previous page just propels you into writing the next page.
There are writers who would start their day of writing by retyping the last page they wrote. They would edit it a bit here or there as they ran it through their typewriter again and then when they got to the end of the page they would be in the middle of a thought that they could continue on what would have been their first page of the day.
How do you get started each day?
For me, the page is never blank. I open the word processor and start a new document with an idea in mind. There’s no need for me to retype the words from yesterday but I also can write a paragraph or two to warm up and throw them out later. It’s easier to discard the warm up prose and rearrange my ideas. I start with an idea and a destination and start writing. Along the way I may learn new things about the topic I’m covering and need to revise what I’ve written but the first challenge is getting words on the page. That’s what NaNo is all about.
As you stare at the blank page, remember that it’s not taunting you. It’s not challenging you. It is patiently waiting for you. It’s going to help support whatever words you set down. The blank page is all about opportunity.