07 December, 2011

That New Page Smell

Writers' Wednesday!!!

No matter what writers write or what tools they use, they all start from a singular point - a blank page.

A blank page has a lot in common with pristine new snow, an immaculate new car, or even a fresh-from-the-box cell phone.  Many people don't want to disturb it's perceived innocence by altering its state in any way.  Until you violate that space, you're not a writer.  You're a... uh... modern art admirer.  Or something like that.  But, definitely not a writer, which was my point.

Here are a few tips to get you going using that space for its intended purpose:

  1. Tromp through it, carve it up, and leave your mark.  Don't write on it.  Draw.  Completely free form.  Use your non-dominant hand and scribble like a snowboarder or snowmobile driver that doesn't care where they're going.  Just fill up the page.  Eventually, you will start writing words.  The process will invoke clarity of intent and you won't even know where it came from by looking at your mess of a doodle.
  2. Spill, stain, or stink it up.  I think we all have the same thing in mind when we get a new car.  "I'll never eat or drink in it.  I won't track any dirt in.  I'll keep it clean as long as I own it."  The irony there is we never truly own it until we've trashed it.  The reality there is we never really own it until the lending institution writes the title over to our name.  The point here is to slap words down in any order that comes to mind.  Play a one-person game of word association if you have to.  Just fill that puppy up with a big ol' block of words.  Chances are, they'll start to make sense to you and you'll be writing.
  3. Drop it.  You know that feeling you get the first time you drop your mobile phone/handset?  The frantic putting back together of battery and case.  The close inspection of every square millimeter of surface area whilst it boots back up.  The sinking feeling of failure over the scratch that took you ten minutes to find.  Now...  Do you know that feeling you get the thirty-seventh time you dropped it?  That's the feeling you want when you write.  To get there, write "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" until you either get to work or grab an ax.
Blank pages aren't a writer's enemy.  They're our canvas.  It's up to you decide if you want to go for photorealism or a single brush stroke.  (Or it might be up to whoever hired you, but that's another discussion for another day.)

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