Get rid of the fear of the blank page once and for all!
A blank page.
A cursor blinking.
Typed words begin to appear: I don’t even know where to start because my head is filled with more false starts than good ideas but maybe if I just start typing, something will eventually come out and it will be fantastic because there is a chance it will lead to questions, uncover buried thoughts, giving me more ideas (“let your mind run fast and free” so says the writer’s handbook currently sitting on my lap), or at least I will have some words on the page to justify my time sitting in front of this computer and calling myself an author. . . .
Brain barfing, as my six-year-old calls it (or “brainstorming” as it’s more formally called), is one way of overcoming writer’s block. But the best way to get rid of that blank page altogether is . . . research.
So let’s go back a bit. What inspired you to write your story?
Was it something you read in an article or heard on the news? Some new knowledge you obtained? A setting? A “what if” question? A personal experience?
Maybe you can’t even remember how you came up with the idea, but you will know this one: What is your story going to be about? That is, what is your story’s arc?
For example, who is your protagonist? What is their challenge? What is the resolution?
Writing is a process of uncovering. Opening your senses. Finding out answers. Divulging into the human psyche. It is also simply a process, following a series of steps to get to the finished product.
So take a deep breath and step back to that place where your story began. What experience and authority do you have to tell this story? According to bestselling author Elizabeth George in her upcoming book Mastering the Process: From Idea to Novel, this is where research comes in because not only will the background information you acquire give you dominion and accuracy, it will also inspire plot elements you would not have considered, even giving rise to the characters who will people your world.
In this case, research doesn’t mean scouring the Internet. There, you may only expose the surface. And you might miss the emotions evoked when physically encountering a situation, walking through a setting, or listening to someone recount their experience. If your research is in depth, your use of it will be seamless and, as George says, it will “eliminate the fear of the blank page.”
2 thoughts on “Overcoming writer’s block . . .”
Sometimes I write what I wanted to in my journal instead of directly into a Word document. There, I get to express myself instead of ‘perform’, and that’s a pretty nifty way to get over writer’s block. Anyway, thanks for this post!
Great idea, Stuart! Thanks!