Welcome, awesome Moxie-Dude readers!
Have I ever told you about my biggest fear?
Surprisingly, it’s not serial killers or someone breaking into my house while I’m asleep. (Possibly because I have dogs.)
My biggest fear is the blank page. Yup, THE BLANK PAGE.
Every single time I start a new client project or get a new assignment, I get overwhelmed with anxiety. I worry that I won’t be able to pull it off or that I’ve reached the ceiling of my creativity and that I will never have a new idea ever again.
Logically speaking – since I have to face this near-neurotic fear every single day of my life – you would think that I would have overcome this by now, right?
You would think.
I’ve come to the conclusion that my fear of the blank page is what drives me. It’s why I bring pen and paper with me when I take a shower. It’s why I drive with ‘voice memo’ on standby. It’s why I interrupt conversations to say, “Sorry. I just need to make a quick note” as I pull out my phone to send myself an email. It’s why the hamster is never really “off”.
Why am I telling you this?
Because fears can be paralyzing and I want to share with you some of the strategies I use to face my fear of the evil blank page.
Write every day
Nothing breeds inspiration like the act of doing – in this case, writing. It’s the proverbial Catch-22: The more you write, the more you’ll want to write. And the more you want to write, the more you’ll feel good about writing. I hate to admit this out loud but I always feel the best about who I am as a writer when I’m being consumed by a piece that I’m working on.
Confession #1: This totally annoys my family.
Read every day
Stephen King said it best in his book, “On Writing”: If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write. Maybe that’s a little harsh but the truth is that reading other people’s work is inspiring. It’s how you learn the craft; how you discover what you like. It’s also the second best way to discover your own voice (the first being writing.)
Confession #2: I read everything, even junk mail. This also annoys my family.
Sometimes the right words will tumble out but most of the time they’ll need a bit of help from your subconscious mind. When I’m struggling with a piece I’ll walk away and do something mindless like fold laundry or take a walk with my dogs. Even a quick ten minutes away will do wonders. Then when I sit back down in front of my laptop the words are suddenly “right there”, just waiting to stumble out of my mind and fingertips.
Confession #3: And by “subconscious” I really mean the hamster, which is why I’m usually working on another time zone (Australia?). Oh and guess what? This annoys my family too.
Enjoy your work
Non-writers (also known as “normal people who get to sleep at night”) don’t realize this but writing is HARD WORK. It took me years to come to terms with this. Which is why enjoying your assignments is soooo important. It took me years to come to terms with this as well. With that said, writing should be about discovering and having fun with the message or piece that you’re working on. Oh and check this out: not every project is the right fit for every writer.
Confession #4: My biggest challenge? “Corporate”, dry pieces (think financial statements). My family doesn’t care about that. In fact, half the time they don’t even know what I’m working on.
Put words to page
This is probably the most important point. Remember what I said above about how fears can be paralyzing? Well nothing (read: NOTHING) is more paralyzing for a writer than staring at a blank page. Which is why walking around with a notebook or sending yourself notes in an email can be your best ally – even if it annoys the hell out of your family.
When you’re staring at a blank page and you sort of know what you want to write about but the words aren’t coming, JUST. START. WRITING. Write anything. Make a list of the thoughts that come to your mind or pretend that you’re writing a letter to your imagined reader. Do whatever it takes to get those fingers moving because that, my friends, is the kick start of every single piece you will ever write: words on the page.
I hope these strategies help you the next time you’re staring at a blank page.
And what about you? How do you overcome writer’s block?
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