Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Dealing with the Blank Page

Here is another pearl of wisdom that arrived in my email. It concerns those moments when you are absolutely stuck on what to write. The blank page on the screen stares at you tantalisingly. You need to fill it up for some reason or other, and you have just no idea how. Or you just have no idea where you’re going with your writing and you feel like you’re writing in the dark or something.

It turns out many successful authors still get this feeling. Their way of dealing with it is to turn it around instead of letting it discourage them. They learn to live with it, and even “enjoy the adventure and surprise that comes with uncertainty”. Here is what some of them advise on the subject. 

“That blank page is there waiting for me to jump in, to sink or swim. I end up flailing about and not knowing what I’m doing. But I trust it’s all part of the process....” 
- Bao Phi

"I have written a great many stories and I still don't know how to go about it except to write it and take my chances."
- John Steinbeck

"Be willing and unafraid to write badly, because often the bad stuff clears the way for good, or forms a base on which to build something better."
- Jennifer Egan

"Sometimes, when you're writing sentence by sentence, you're not really sure what footprints you're going to fall into, or what ghosts might appear."
- Karen Russell

"You've got to jump off the cliff all the time and build your wings on the way down.”
- Ray Bradbury

"The greatest thing about writing a book is that at first it's all inchoate, but the more you work on it, the more the book teaches you its internal rules."
- George Saunders

“Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” 
- E.L. Doctorow

And what would I say on the subject?

“Use it to practise the art of automatic writing. Just write whatever comes into your head, wherever your subconscious and imagination take you. Never mind what your conscious mind tries to say.”

- Briony Coote