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Blank page syndrome

What is it about a blank page that sends most aspiring writers screaming into the night, or at least off to go check their email (again), or anything else but actually putting pen to paper?

One of the most intimidating challenges a writer faces is a blank page.  Here are three things you can do to get past this maddening problem.

1.  Brainstorm

To get past the initial fear, just start writing down random words related to your topic.  The goal isn’t to have a fully formed draft at first, just to get some words down to eliminate the intimidation of a blank page.

When writing this blog entry, for example, I thought of the three methods I wanted to cover first, and got them down as quickly as possible.  Instead of worrying about “what I wanted to write”, I focused my efforts on “what do I do when I have a blank page?”
2.  Copy and paste old work onto the new page

If you’ve written before about your chosen topic, sometimes copying and pasting some of your old material into the new document can give you something to focus on.  Once you have a general format and some relevant information, you quickly start to make progress because you have somewhere to start.

Occasionally, I’ve used material from answers that I’ve written to help other writers.  This serves two purposes:  it gives me a place to start, and uses information someone else has already found useful.  This helps me to improve even farther, giving relevant information to my readers.

3.  Close your eyes and stop procrastinating

Sometimes, the easiest way to forget about a blank page is to close your eyes.  Once they’re closed, start typing or writing whatever comes to mind.  By the time you open them again, there are words on the page, ready for you to edit, throw away, or build on.

More often than not, you find something useful in whatever you write.  The trick is often just getting something onto the page.  I usually find that I’ve completed my work faster than I would have thought possible.  My only problem has been getting started.

What are you waiting for?  Go write!


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