Ever stared at a blank screen, the cursor taunting you with its incessant blinking, and felt paralyzed? What is so scary about that blank page? Often we have more ideas than time to work on them, so why can it be so difficult to get them from head to paper (or computer)? For me, it’s the fear of failure. The ideas seem so perfect in my head, and I want to do them justice, so I put a lot of pressure of myself. Now, when this happens I simply remind myself of the following advice that many writers would have heard time and again.
‘You can fix a bad page, but you can’t fix a blank one’
We waste a lot of energy talking ourselves out of writing because it might not be perfect. Why not refocus that energy into putting words to paper as they come. We can go back and ‘fix’ anything we’re not happy with later.
These fears can often continue throughout the writing process. Rather than taking off with an idea and letting the words flow onto the page, I find myself critiquing each paragraph, sentence or word, as I go along. I’ve even been known to stop mid-sentence searching for the ‘perfect’ word to describe something as inane as the color of the dirt on a character’s shoe. Thankfully, I’ve been able to work on that bad habit, and rather than dwelling on something so small, I will move on, or alternatively, place a small note to come back to during the editing stage.
It’s important to remember that a first draft isn’t meant to be perfect. It’s a way to let your creativity flow; to find your voice and let your ideas run wild. Once you’ve let all of that creativity out and have something to build on, you can go back and edit.
Here are some tips to help you turn off that internal editor:
Note: Pantser = A novelist who writes by the Seat of their Pants, not taking time to plot the novel before beginning to write.