It sits there, staring at you, taunting you with your inability to fill it. But I assure you, you are mightier than the blank page and it is easily vanquished once you set aside your terror.
What makes the blank page so terrifying isn’t really anything about the page itself. It’s about your own expectations for what you need to put in it. We all want to be perfect: write the perfect blog, make the perfect argument, or tell the perfect story. But the drive to be perfect can sometimes make us hit the emergency break instead.
Somewhere deep inside our subconscious we “know” that anything we put on that blank page won’t be perfect, so we’ll just end up erasing (or deleting) it anyway, leaving us back with the blank page again. And so, we figure we’ll just skip all that and leave the page blank to begin with.
And thus, writer’s block is born. Sure there are other causes, but for me, most of my bouts of writer’s block come from an inability to get passed seeking perfection.
So what can we do? I think the best way to conquer the blank page is to recognize that it is not a commodity. A blank piece of paper is worth almost nothing. If you’re anything like me you have books of them laying around. They’re not valuable.
But a filled page – even a page filled with mind-to-page free writing can be immensely valuable. Those brainstorming pages give you something very special: potential. There are nuggets of amazing stories, blogs, poems, arguments… whatever it is you are trying to write, buried in the most inane drivel.
Why? Because those ideas are inside you somewhere. You just haven’t figured out how to put them together yet. A sculptor’s clay comes from a store, but a writer’s medium is words. Until you throw your medium onto the wheel, you have nothing to shape and mold into a piece of art.
So don’t be terrorized by the blank page. Don’t worry about making something perfect the first time. Get your clay onto the wheel and then worry about shaping it. Fill that page and edit away!
Lisa Schmidt is a ghost-blogger and blogging coach for LegalLinguist.com, which specializes in providing blogging services to attorneys and other professionals. If you know someone who needs help building a better blog, contact Legal Linguist today.