One of my biggest plights as a writer is beating the blank page. It’s always a deterrent when I start a new manuscript. It takes a few minutes to linger, sometimes days before I get anything down. Once I have something set up, the words start to flow, but it’s getting past that white space that weighs on me. It doesn’t even have to be the start of the manuscript really. I have a hard time beginning a new chapter. How I get past it, is trying new things. A new title, in case that gets the words going. A new angle to come into the story or article at, believe me, it helps.
Most of the time, it’s not that I don’t know what to say, it’s just getting it phrased right, framing how that chapter’s going to go. I do outlines to frame things beforehand so that helps but to really dig into what I’m going to say, I have to give myself a bit of a push. Just get something down, I tell myself. Anything. Go from there. It’s a little like that first draft. It’s like pulling teeth but once you get the basics down of what you want to say, going back is easier. The framework’s done.
Sometimes, I’ll use music to inspire me. It can convey something the characters are feeling. This leads to words and before I know it, I’m off. When I’m revising for instance, because I write lean, a paragraph can turn into a page-and-a-half when I get an idea. These are not just ideas that drop in upon me, but they fuel from the story already written. A character’s way of looking at something may have changed. At times, I’ll find myself distracted from writing by a pet or one of the kids and the easiest way to get back into my story is to just start typing to see where it goes.
Pictures are also a great source to work from. Often, they can transport a writer to the world of their characters, a scene you’ve imagined time and again. I can find these pics everywhere from magazines to Pinterest. I keep a standing log of different pics that could inspire characters, settings, or may suggest a way in which “magic” works for instance. I don’t like to know the details down to the recipe for magic, just enough to make me think it could happen this way. If I start trying to explain how the magic works, then it becomes the whole explaining the force equivalent. It just does. Lol. I know that doesn’t work for some people, but I’d rather NOT know. Faith works on the same principle for me.
Movies or television might suggest a way to make things work in your story as well. There’s a lot of times that I’ve gotten an ‘aha’ moment while watching something. Of course, sometimes it has nothing to do with what the characters are doing onscreen. It might be a phrase they say, or a problem they’ve stepped into. Anything can break the gate. And it is a gate holding you back from where you want the story to go. So, find a way to open it that works for you. You’ll find yourself beating the page in no time at all.
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