There have to be times when the tyranny of the blank page gets to the best of us, and I’m certainly no exception.   There are occasions when I cannot think of words, let alone sentences, and the river simply stops flowing.  So I thought I’d explain what I do when that happens, and compare notes with you. 

First of all, if I have already been working on something, I stop.  There’s no point in pursuing it if the inspiration which drives it is dry.

Then I start with the blank page.

I think of a place I know.  A street, a park, a piece of pavement.  Then I change it a little.  Give it a different name.  Maybe it would look better with a church, there, a large limousine parked there, or a bus at a bus stop nearby.

Now I put feet on the street.  Whose?  Male, female, young, old?  Usually I tie these things to someone I know, too.  But then I alter her a little – make her more attractive, or less:  give her a mannerism that adds substance – why does her hand twitch that way?  Why does she seem distracted – even anxious?

And I walk with her.  Yes, I do.  I try to view her life from the inside – see what she sees, do what she would do.  Or he – it doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter yet, but it’s beginning to.  It starts to matter a lot more as she passes the big limousine and its door swings open, or a man leaps from the bus and begins running towards her, shouting………and I have a story.

The point is, I don’t plan it.  I don’t plan anything, I’m afraid.  I honestly had no idea where this was going five minutes ago, and I have no idea what will occur in the next five.  Will it be a short story or a book?  It might even be an article about road safety!

So, to those who insist I should plan my writing, I am a nightmare.  If I know where my story is going I cease to be engaged, and I simply won’t write it.  It will join the realms of the unfinished that march in legions across my hard drive.

This works for me.  What about you?  How do you meet the tyranny of the empty page?

3 Comments

  1. I have not yet met the ‘tyranny of the empty page’ because I am a planner. I know that’s not sexy to admit in the writing world, but it works best for me. I know what I need to include in each scene, but that doesn’t meant the execution is restrictive. I can still take liberties and let the characters surprise me. But I admire those of you who can write where the wind takes you. Everybody needs their own style. If not, our work wouldn’t be true to us.

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    1. I agree – we each have our ways, and I would plan if that didn’t rob me of the pleasure. I look at some of the more complex plots I can’t pursue because to do so would mean a story board on my wall, etc..But I know that a plan wouldn’t last five pages because somewhere my character would take off on his own and I would be faced by the ‘he wouldn’t do that’ dilemma. Just me – I’m undisciplined!

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