re: Getting Past the Blank Page

posted 7/7/15

Dear Editor…

I really want to write a novel, and I have a couple of ideas, but once I sit down at the computer and try to write, I end up staring at a blank page. I’ve looked online for ideas for motivation, but nothing has worked. Suggestions?

Foiled by the Blank Page


Dear Foiled by the Blank Page…

You need to get words on the page–any words–to punch through that white wall. Try this: Open a new document on your computer and type “Today I’m writing about a [man/woman/thing/whatever] who is [doing such-and-such].” Then explain why s/he’s doing that thing, then write what s/he says to the first character to come along. You’ll slip into a conversation, then a full scene. It could be a scene for the beginning of the story or something much later; not everyone writes stories linearly. In fact, that expectation could be the source of your writer’s block. You can decide where/how the story starts later. Award-winning Richard Peck once said he rewrites every book’s opening after he’s finished the entire first draft. He doesn’t know the characters when he starts a book, so how can he write the perfect opening for their story? Get words on the page so you have something to shape and develop. You can begin every writing session with this way.

Readers, what helps you get past the blank page?

Happy writing!
The Editor

P.S. For more on this topic, read Creative Process
posted by: The Editor
under: Creative Process
Comments to "re: Getting Past the Blank Page" | Add a Comment
    1. Natasha Wing wrote (on 07/07/15 at 7:57 am) :

      I try to think of a title that captures my story and that sometimes gets me excited to push forward Or else I do a character study.


    2. Sue Ford wrote (on 07/07/15 at 8:12 am) :

      I need to know something about the character and his/her problem. Where will she come face to face with that problem? How? When? What is he feeling and thinking? What does she really want? What prevents him from getting what he wants? Then put the character in that situation and write a scene. Whether it ends up in the book or not, I learn something about who this character is.


    3. The Editor wrote (on 07/07/15 at 8:58 am) :

      Love hearing what works for others. Hope to hear more!


    4. Peggy Barnhill wrote (on 07/07/15 at 9:58 am) :

      Sometimes I write a diary entry of my character’s, or a letter she writes to her best friend describing her adventures. They never go in the finished story, but they help me learn the character’s voice and get started.


    5. Laura Ryding-Becker wrote (on 07/07/15 at 11:36 am) :

      I have read numerous times that “free writing” for 10-15 minutes or so can help a lot when you get stuck. Just grab a few sheets of paper (writing by hand seems to work better) and literally write down everything that comes to mind: “I’m sitting here at my desk and I have no idea what to write. I was going to start at the beginning of the story, but as soon as I sat down at my laptop, my mind hit a brick wall…” That kind of thing. It helps you get some words flowing, your story-telling mind working, and you can even let out some frustration or irritation about it! Hope it helps :)


    6. Laura wrote (on 07/12/15 at 4:03 pm) :

      I often skip to a part of the story in my head that I know, then work my way back filling in the blanks as I go. The story often works itself out as I go, then boom! I’ve got an opening scene!


      The Editor replied (on 07/13/15 at 1:01 am) :

      Excellent! Thanks for sharing that.