The writer's curse: fear of the blank page

I think every writer knows the paralysing fear of the blank page or screen. (Maybe paralysis is the wrong word: often this fear drives me to other scintillating and suddenly urgent tasks, like sorting out files or cleaning the oven.) But I was amused to find that even  starting the drawing  I talked about yesterday - the story map that was just for me, that would never be seen by anyone else - held this same fear.

Because I have to admit I lied. I said I was doing the drawing, and I had the paper out, and I was going to do it just as soon as I finished the post. That part was all honest.

But somehow I didn't. Somehow it was time to walk the dog, and then make dinner, and I couldn't possibly do it after that because it was too late, and I wasn't alone in the house, and, and, and...

So this morning I made it my priority. I put on meditative music, made my coffee, and started scribbling. I used scrap paper to remind myself that it was just scribbling, that I would be throwing out many pages before I worked out what I wanted.

And it worked. That's the amazing bit. I certainly don't have a beautiful map: I have several pages of scribbles, with different shapes, lines and arrows,  East-West-North-South crossed out and replaced as I worked out where I wanted the sun to rise. But I now have a much better idea of what this landscape and its buildings are like, and therefore of the story.  In the end I worked for about four hours, as the map details led me to questions, and so to reference books and google, where a  picture or item started another question or chain of thought...

We don't all work the same way. But one thing always holds true: at some point you have to start. And it doesn't matter how small the start is, it'll never be so scary again.




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