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.

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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…

GOTCHA

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…

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