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A Writer's Dilemma: Facing the Blank Page
I’m going to be honest, facing a blank page has never been a problem for me—yet.
I rarely outline before beginning a book, though I might have an idea of a character. So I’m quite familiar with pure white staring back at me as I type chapter one at the top. I don’t consider it frightening or even challenging, but exciting.
How will the story start? Who will it be about? What will they be like?
At the beginning of a book, what ends up on the page can truly be a surprise. For instance, in my newest story, What Used to be Texas, I knew I was going to write a story about a group of people five years after the post-apocalyptic event. But until I sat in front of the computer, I didn’t know the first character I’d write about was Molly, a sixteen-year-old who was now alone after family and friends had all passed away or disappeared.
But as the story moved on, I often have a general idea of what the next chapter will be about (for instance, Michael needs to help his friend find his wife) and the surprises lessen. However, more than once, my stories have taken an unexpected twist, even for me. lol.
For me, those twists and turns make writing fun. And to be quite honest, if I don’t have some kind of fun, I stop writing that story.
I’ve talked to a lot of authors who do outline their stories. Many still leave room for the unexpected. Doing so can really add excitement for the readers, too.
But despite my usual excitement over a new white page, sometimes I’m not really in the mood to spend a few hours creating. What do I do then?
Ways I Kick that Blank Page to the Curb When Writing
The best advice I’ve read—the thing that really works for me—it stay in a routine. It doesn’t really matter when you write—morning, evening, or small times in between, be consistent. I’ve found that my mind begins churning with story around noon—right at the time I usually start writing.
I take two days off a week. Some people like to write every day. But I run out of gas if I don’t take a couple of days off a week. I need that recharge to stay pumped about writing. I may or may not edit, but if I want or need it, I take it.
Nature rejuvenates my brain. Sometimes I’m just kinda meh about working. I take a break and walk down our country road. I don’t think about the story, I just look at the sky, the trees, the creek, and any little critters I see out there. When I come back inside nine times out of ten, I’m ready to go again.
Most importantly, I try to take care of myself. I eat healthier than I ever have and get exercise. I’ve never been a highly active person because of health problems, but I do the best I can. My brain thanks me with less fog and sleepiness. It’s much easier to stay alert and churn out those words when I keep healthy habits.
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