And few things make me more nervous than the great, white nothing.
I experienced this most notably last week, when I set aside the entire work week, Monday through Friday, to hammer out a decent rough draft for my new WIP, a novel. Last week, every day, six hours while my kids were in school, I wrote. No laundry. No dinner prep. No housekeeping. No blogging, Facebook, phone calls or email. Just me and my laptop.
And a very large blank page.
But, as grateful writers everywhere have discovered, there are ways to overcome. Here are some of the things that helped me fill my blank page with words.
- I knew ahead of time what I wanted to write about. It helped to begin thinking about this the day before I wrote. (In the case of a big, big project–like this novel–that “day” was actually weeks, months…years.) That gave my unconscious time to begin churning.
- Once I began writing, I kept going. That meant I kept moving without stopping to correct errors or misspellings or nonsense, I just kept the flow going. Writers call this “turning off the editor.” This kind of freewriting allowed me, in time, to tap into my subconscious, where the really good stuff lies. (Correcting all the junk comes later, in the next phase: rewriting, or revision.)
- I set a timer. Usually for 25 minutes chunks, an idea borrowed from the Pomodoro technique. There’s something about working against a deadline, even a self-imposed one, that forces words to come.
Even when I was away from my laptop, I helped myself by:
- Keeping paper and pencil handy at all times. I never knew when inspiration would hit–or how quickly it would flee. I don’t count on memory to recall those brilliant ideas on command.
- I read. A lot. Reading what others have written often provides inspiration for both content and style.
How about you? What tricks do you have for overcoming the blank page? I’d love to hear your ideas, to add them to my arsenal!
By the way, huge shout-out to Heather Kopp, Kim Galgano, Kirsetin Morello, Paula Bicknell and Sherri Sand–fellow writers and bloggers, who last week prayed me through my big push. Could not have done it without you. You ladies rock.