Staring At The Blank Screen

It’s terrifying, isn’t it? You know you want to write. You NEED to write. If you don’t, something inside your brain will either explode like an uncracked egg in the microwave or sit and sizzle like a slab of bacon on an almost hot enough driveway. It’s staring at you. The WHITEness of it. The BLANK screen or notebook paper.

I don’t know. I must be odd because I love blank paper and an unused document just as I loved the brand new box of crayons at the beginning of each school year. One side of my brain says if I use it, I’ll mess it up. The crayons aren’t new anymore once you first draw with them. The blank paper isn’t clean and fresh anymore once you put words on it. What if what you draw isn’t worth the value of the crayon? What if what you write isn’t worth the value of the paper (or the time it takes to put it on the computer screen)?

Of course it is. The other side of my brain tells me it’s jam-packed full of possibility. The possibility itself is worth it. What if you mess up? So you mess up. And then you keep going.

Both sides are always there. You will always have that nagging sound in your head saying you’re not good enough. If you keep going, though, you also will always have the other side saying so maybe this isn’t good enough, but eventually it WILL be. Or the next one will be, the one that built on what you learned with THIS one.

Creativity begets creativity. The more you use those new crayons, the more value they have. They are most valuable when they have been worn down to stumps. Why? Because they are the Velveteen Rabbit. They have been loved. While being loved, they have helped you learn and grow as an artist.

This week, I received the suggestion for a book by a “pro” that helps you edit your novel. The recommendation came from someone reading the nearly final draft (nearly, it’s still in editing mode) of my newest book. Of course I realize that means the reader thinks I need more work. Of course I do. What writer doesn’t? A writer who gets to the point she thinks she doesn’t need more work is no longer worth reading. Still, such a simple and honest remark has the ability to knock you off your trying-to-rise ego platform. When you ask for criticism, you will get it. Trust me on this. Criticism is good.

Criticism is good … criticism is good…. Repeat twenty times a day and go to bed early.

On the other hand, this was a reader who doesn’t read the genre I write. Still, he read the whole thing, all 160-some-thousand words in two days because he didn’t want to put it down. He said it affected him in a way a book hasn’t done in a very long time, and it was intended as a huge compliment. Okay, what do I do with this?

Simple. I let that one half of my brain jump up and down doing a happy dance. He couldn’t put it down … he couldn’t put it down…. Repeat twenty times and indulge in a sip of blackberry wine.

I let the other half of my brain consider buying the suggested book and cramming real fast before I finish my edits.

When I started this story, it was full of excitement and newness and the idea it could be “the one” that helps me break out. That blank page was loaded with possibility. As it went on, it become like a relationship I sometimes loved and sometimes wanted to ditch at the closest singles club. It was wholly familiar, warts and all, not the same as that bright shiny story idea. Real. Loved well and worn to a stump.

The blank page vs. the well-used and crumpled page. Which is better? Both. One has the bouncy possibility that anything can happen (and will, trust me on this) and the other has comfort and familiarity and will need lots of editing and tons of patience.

It’s like a new romance vs. an old married couple. Think of all the possibilities of where that romance may lead. It’s exciting and unknown, a new venture. It could be wonderful. It could be a disaster. But if you don’t get started, it will be nothing, not even a learning tool for the next time that could be worlds better. If you don’t try, how do you ever get to that old comfortable marriage where you read each others’ thoughts and allow the pages to begin writing themselves?

It all starts with that blank page.
~~~~~

LK Hunsaker
Mainstream Romance with an Artsy Twist
http://www.lkhunsaker.com
http://lkhunsaker.blogspot.com

Tags: , , , creativity,

4 Responses to “Staring At The Blank Screen”

  1. Lyn Says:

    Very interesting post LK.I agree, that blank page can be really scary. It usually takes me a while to start filling it, the first bit is always the hardest.

  2. Linda Banche Says:

    If this one isn’t your breakout novel, sounds like you’re awfully close!

  3. Francesca Prescott Says:

    I loved reading this, Loraine. It vibrated with me, big time. I call it blank page vertigo!

    xx Francesca

  4. LK Hunsaker Says:

    Lyn, I’ve heard some authors say they start in the middle of a story only to avoid writing the beginning first! Whatever works.

    Linda, thank you. I can always hope.

    Francesca, ‘blank page vertigo’ - funny! Just put on your blinders and jump.

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