Who’s Afraid of the Big Blank Page?

Congratulations, my fine writer friend, you’ve finally, finally finished your book! Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!  You’ve edited your precious bundle of words to within an inch of its life, polished it to a dazzling sheen, and sent it off to seek its fortune in the big wide world.  So now you’re revelling in your new-found freedom, right?  Catching up with long-ignored family and friends, ploughing your way through that teetering To Be Read pile by your bed, joining all the exercise classes, and getting down to every one of those 284 delightful things you vowed you’d make time for once you finished your bloomin’ book bestseller-in-waiting…

teetering books

…But wait a second.  That pile by your bed doesn’t seem to have gone down at all.  You still haven’t signed up for that marathon like you promised yourself, or made it to Beginners’ Yoga, and there’s not a single one of those 284 delightful things ticked off yet.  No, I get it, you’re too busy planning your next writing project instead, aren’t you?  Desperately trying to fill that novel-shaped hole inside, scribbling away at your desk as if you’d never even left… or at least you would be, were it not for the Big Blank Page staring back at you.

Ah yes, the terrible Post-Project Blank Page, truly a creature of nightmare and legend.


Just look at him!  What a brute!  No wonder you’re scared.  How do you even begin to tackle such an indomitable foe?  Well, here’s the thing… appearances can be deceptive.  The Big Blank Page isn’t quite as scary and blank as he’d have despairing writers believe.  It’s true.  If you look closely enough (you might need a powerful magnifying glass for this part) you’ll see he’s actually teeming with hidden germs of ideas, like something out of an advert for bleach bathroom spray:

Idea bacteria

There must be getting on for 30 new story ideas in this small cross-section alone!  But here’s the other thing, these little fellers are every bit as timid and shy as their Blank Page host is terrifying.  That’s why they’re in hiding in the first place.  If you want to capture them, then you’ve got to be clever.  You’ve got to be sly.  The best way to snare them is to feign indifference.  Seriously, pretend you’re not interested.  Pretend you’re too darn busy catching up on real life to give them a second thought.  Step away from the blank page and get to work on that list of yours instead, on those 284 delightful things you’ve been waiting to start.  Read all the books.  Kick off your new fitness campaign… That’s it, lull those idea germs into a false sense of security.  Leave them to swell and multiply behind the scenes.  And then…


Oh frabjous day!  Callooh!  Callay!  This next book’s going to be even better than the last one!  Before you know it you’ll be off again, ploughing your way through a brand new literary masterpiece, already counting down the days until you get the bloomin’ thing finished…


The Answer To Everything

Hey you!  Yes, you with the sad / worried / bored face. 

Who Me

Politics getting you down? 

Rain getting you down?

Work / love life / clearing up after your incontinent dog getting you down? 

Thought so.

And let me guess, you’re still putting off that trim to avoid awkward small talk with the hairdresser? 

How could you tell


Just a hunch.

But all that’s about to change.  I know just the thing…

I'm all ears


Yes, my friend. What you need is the all new REALITY DEFLECTO SHIELD.

Okay, so I lied about the new bit, but trust me, the REALITY DEFLECTO SHIELD is the answer to ALL your problems. 

Simply engage the built-in reality deflector system and the real word vanishes in an instant.  No more political scrapping.  No more puddles (rain puddles I mean, but it works just as well with the incontinent pooch variety).  No more heartbreak or tedium or gloom. 

I like the sound of that

And best of all, you can take your Reality Deflecto Shield to the hairdresser’s and avoid conversation ALTOGETHER. You won’t even have to look at yourself in the mirror! 

Tell me more

Well, they come in a choice of colours.  A choice of settings.  A choice of moods.  More choice than you could ever imagine.  All you need to do is get yourself down to your nearest Reality Deflecto Shield stockist and get choosing…

Reality Deflector Shield




To grow your own critics you will need:

  • 1 packet of mixed critic bulbs
  • 1 generous patch of well-raked earth
  • water
  • patience

Early autumn is the ideal planting time to guarantee a discerning spring crop. Plant your bulbs at well spaced intervals of at least 60 centimetres and cover with soil. Water well.  It really is as simple as that.  You should hope to see your first critic sprouting by mid to late January. At this stage they should be capable of absorbing anything between 1-2,000 words per day although their feedback may be a little basic.

Beta Reader

By late February you can expect an average yield of three to seven critics, each capable of processing up to 20,000 words per week (which, let’s face it, is quicker than most of us can write).

full cropWhile it’s tempting to weed out the harshest critics and sell them off as Sontaran collectables to gullible Dr Who fans, you’d do well to listen to what they have to say.  They’re bound to have a new and interesting perspective on your precious tome and it’s worth remembering that their curmudgeonly nit-picking attitude may be partly due to soggy root feet and chin worms.

Of course if your fingers are of the less-than-green variety (and your garden of the less-than-capacious kind) you could always join a critique group instead.  Apparently some writers prefer it…