If you could overcome your fear of the blank page, would you write more? Would your kids write more?
Suppose you had a framework to generate ideas and create a cohesive piece of writing, would you feel more confident?
I promise that if you read to the end of this blog post, you'll see how it's possible to overcome the terror of the blank page. (If you read approximately 200 words/minute, it will take you about 5 minutes to read the whole thing.)
First, we'll bust three myths that may be holding you back. Then, I'll show you how to overcome the blank page.
If writing doesn't come easily, you're just not a writer, and you shouldn't write.
Let's look at some famous writers who have produced brilliant work. We'll find that they struggled, practiced, and persevered. I'm glad they kept at it.
Dr. Seuss's first book was finally accepted by the 28th publisher he sent it to, and they ended up selling 6 million copies of the book.
Stephen King had more than 30 publishers decline to publish his first book, Carrie. There have been over a million copies of that book sold. He kept writing and has since written over 57 books.
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Born in 1867, to a pioneer family, Laura was finally able to get her memoirs, titled Little House in the Big Woods, published in 1932 - she was 65.
You have to wait for the Muse.
The Muse tends to show up when you schedule time to write. And when you use a structured process to generate ideas, it gets things flowing.
Ryan J. Pelton says, "The more we plant butt in a chair at consistent intervals, the better chance the muse can sprinkle story dust on our heads."
Story writing isn't important.
I want to bust this myth because often we feel like creative writing isn't academic enough. As if it is play instead of work.
Jill Swenson from Swenson Book Development says, "Without narrative structure, non-fiction writing is just a boring recitation of one thing after another."
I'm going to argue that we should start with story writing because if we learn how to write a story, we'll understand the elements required for including a creative narrative in our essays.
As Boni Wagner-Stafford co-founder of Ingenium Books says, "creating a narrative non-fiction plot structure is key to delivering a good read."
I challenge you to read some essays and look for the story arc. There is always a problem that gets solved. And life as we know it changes because of that solution.
If you understand story structure and practice creating that story arc, it will become easier to include in your essays. Your essays will become more engaging - people will want to read them. Because at the root, we love to be told a story.
Are you convinced? Ready to put words on a page? Let's talk about how to start generating ideas even when you feel you don't have any.
Overcoming the Blank Page
Start with the seven-sentence story.
Before you worry about outlining your story, start by asking yourself questions. Whether you start with a writing prompt or you're staring at a blank page, start asking questions - who, where, when, why, how - just make stuff up. The beauty of it is, as the writer, it's your prerogative to change things as you go along. There are no wrong answers - you're just coming up with ideas.
Create an Outline
Think of the outline as a container for your ideas. A place that will hold them until you're ready to start writing. When you sit down to write, you won't have to stare at a blank page.
In fact, while you're going about your other tasks, your subconscious mind will still be thinking through your plot problems. And, when you're ready to write, you'll often find that you've got some fresh ideas or better ways to solve your character's problems.
As you write your first draft, you may feel discouraged that your story isn't turning out as you imagined.
Perhaps your seven-sentence story is a fairy tale, and you love a particular version of a fairy tale. You dream about writing like your favorite author, but your skills are not where you'd like them to be, and you're not sure that you can do the story justice. You're not alone.
Ira Glass says, "Everybody I know who does interesting, creative work they went through years where they had really good taste, and they could tell that what they were making wasn't as good as they wanted it to be. They knew it fell short. Everybody goes through that.
And if you are just starting out or if you are still in this phase, you gotta know it's normal, and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work."
The distance between your skills and where you want to be is always greater than you would like it to be.
But as you deliberately practice your writing, that gap will start to close.
7-Day Writing Jumpstart = No more Staring at a Blank Page
I invite you to get a 7-Day Writing Jumpstart Kit™.
It comes with a workbook, and the kit explains what to do on each day.
Download the workbook so you can do the work, or sign up for a free trial with Summit and do the work on the Summit Writing Learning Platform. If you do that, you'll be guided through the process step-by-step. You'll even get feedback from a Summit Writing Coach.
If you're ready to jumpstart your writing and overcome the blank page, click here to get your 7-Day Writing Jumpstart Kit™.