Facing the Blank Page

Whether the blank page is paper or a computer screen, the effect is the same.  It’s blank.  How to get started?

For me, I start long before I sit down to face the blank page.  My rational mind and my imagination have frequent play dates when I’ve gotten an idea for a story, and I let them work out some kinks before I commit anything to paper/computer file.  But sometimes I feel a powerful urge to put words down, to see them in front of me, to make the process more concrete.  Let’s face it, so much of what writers do while developing stories resides in the mind.  Seeing words on paper encourages my mind and imagination that I’m serious about what they’re telling me.

Recently, I’ve had two main ideas banging around in my head.  One is for a science fiction short story, and the other is for a series of essays that draw on my experience with the medical world during the last eleven years.  Neither has emerged as the priority.  Today, for example, I’ve been thinking a LOT about the essay series.  A couple days ago, it was the short story and its structure that preoccupied me.

As hard as I work to make the development process linear, my mind refuses to cooperate.  It’s like riding a bucking horse.  Do I manage to stay on?  Not for long.

I’ve read articles in which writers talk about starting by writing out an outline, or writing character sketches, or writing the ending.  Other writers talk about just putting the behind in the chair and writing.  They figure out what they’ve written later and how it fits into the project they’re working on or not.  Creativity knows no standard process, no linear process.  Creativity flows and all writers can do is encourage the flow, remove any obstacles, be there for the flow.  Allow no room for discouragement.

One of my favorite things to do to get the flow going?  I walk.  If I’m walking inside, I listen to classical music on a personal CD player.  I rarely listen to music when I’m walking outdoors.  There’s too much to look at, smell, and hear.  More often than not, my mind goes off walking too, in its own way, exploring my experience in the last 24 hours, who said what to whom, and then lazily circles back to think about the writing project I’m working on.  By the time I’m actually facing the blank page two things have happened: one, I’m excited; and two, I have enough about setting, time period, characters and action to start putting words on the page.

The medical world essays have been a different mind experience.  I decided weeks ago that I wanted the tone of the essays to be conversational.  My mind and imagination have interpreted that to mean public speaking.  They’ve been working through the various topics for each essay as if I needed to give a speech on each one.  This is weird.  I don’t like public speaking at all.  But for some reason, this idea unlocks the flow.

Because each writer’s mind and imagination differ from every other writer’s, it makes sense that each writer would have his or her own way of encouraging the flow of ideas and words so that when he sits down to put words to paper, there’s something to write.  Have you considered your creative process lately?

206 responses to “Facing the Blank Page

  1. wow. thanks for writing. its been quite helpful. Sometimes its easier to write than to actually say it out load in front of people in a public setting.

  2. Great article. It’s true: writing is one of the most difficult things in life to do. But it’s also the most fun. Don’t give up- I’m sure your stories will turn out great 🙂

  3. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! This is what I most enjoy reading – I enjoy reading about writing. The blank page can be troubling. As a student, I find starting the hardest part of writing. It has taken several years to even begin to discern my creative process. I have found it involves being in public where I am convinced everyone will judge me if I am not working with the pen and paper sitting in front of me. Thank you for a fantastically written post about what writer’s face. I guess I should go finish some writing assignments now. 🙂

    • Emily, thank you for the kind words. People who don’t write have no idea how hard it is. It’s work. A blank page can be a huge obstacle but needn’t be impossible. I sometimes imagine that I’m telling a friend or the child of a friend a story in my mind. For some reason, that makes it easier to write — I want to get it down in case the story turns out to be a good one that I’ve made up! LOL Hope to see you again here.

  4. Ideas come to me in the shower. Go figure…

    • Oh, the shower! That’s a GREAT place to think, that’s why. Any boring activity that can unleash your imagination has that effect. But we can’t spend all our time in the shower, eh? (smile)

  5. This is a very interesting view on things. I’ve had many problems with writer’s block in the past, mainly because I could not stay focused on the story I was writing at the time; my mind always wandered into other ideas, other stories, other concepts. I already knew I had this problem, but reading your post opened my eyes on how to pay more attention to this, since it wasn’t something I did consciously.
    I guess, in my case, the answer to the writer’s block is simply to work on more than one project at a time, which is something I’m going to try from now onwards. Whenever my mind starts to wander from the project I’m currently working on, I will simply start another, and soon enough I guess that my ideas will come back to the original project, as you say is happening with you and your two projects.

    • I had a writer friend once who swore that the best way to cure writer’s block was the interview the block, i.e. sit down at the computer or with paper and pen, and start asking the block questions like: What do you want me to know? Why now? What are you trying to tell me? Usually a writer’s block can signal a problem with the writing and it’s important to pay attention to it. I also like to read The Writer to stay thinking about writing but not the project.

      There is another kind of writer’s block, however, that occurs with physical illness or after the body has been injured. With this block, there’s no rushing it’s cure. It’s best to focus on healing first. With this kind of block (which I’ve had) the best way to assuage guilt over not writing is to read voraciously, all the books you’ve always meant to read but had no time for them.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment!

  6. “Have you considered your
    creative process lately?” Ahhh such a great question. For me the challenge is keeping that process going, with way too many obstacles (ie. hubby, kids, haha!) interrupting. I have felt that I will explode if I don’t get to my computer. My family has often said that I type too loudly on my laptop!
    Nice post!

    • Finding time to write is a problem shared by thousands. Unfortunately, there’s no easy fix. I hope you find the best way to balance all the aspects of your life and writing has an important place there, too. Thanks for the comment!

  7. I’ve considered mine several times. If I’m out walking, I listen to music because it helps me to focus. If I’m about to start a project, I meditate in order to calm myself, get my concentration focused, and to get the creative energies stimulated. I also try to work in different locations so as to make sure I don’t get complacent and distracted. It also helps to just make a commitment; otherwise it’s really hard to get anything done. I know that from past experience. Hope that helps in some way.

  8. I’m a freelance cartoonist, with the occasional bout of Cartoonist block which isn’t really funny.
    To overcome it, I write single words which relate to the topics I’m trying to meld into a cartoon, and end up with 10 to 15 words. Then I try and work 2 or 3 of those words together into a picture in my mind. If I don’t get a picture within a minute, I take a fresh 2 or 3 words and think on them.

    It normally works, but if after 40 minutes it hasn’t, then I take a 20 minute or more music / walk break. Sometimes, pressing deadlines don’t allow for much longer than this.

    If you’re interested, I have 4 sample sections in my blog,,,,,,,,,,,,




  9. I have always had my best thoughts when I was either sleeping or trying to sleep, hoping be functional in the morning. Usually I would forget them by the time I woke up but occasionally I’d pick them up again as soon as I fell asleep. I have just started keeping a pad of paper to write a key word reminder. I don’t dare do more as when I have gotten up to write a brilliant thought I lose track of time and before you know it – it’s time to get ready for work. 😦

    • I rarely have a writing idea when I’m falling asleep, but I’ve solved writing problems in night dreams when I’m asleep. The main character of my first novel showed up in a dream one night when I was working on the first draft. The problem: where did he live? In the dream, he showed me the address, then gave me a tour of the apartment. I woke up laughing! Thanks for your comment.

  10. For me, the time just before I go to sleep is when I imagine myself in this other world/ history I am creating and I come up with the best ideas then. Sometimes I become so excited about it that I have to get back up and start writing some of it down before I am calm enough to go to sleep.

  11. I’ve never really had a particular creative process, but I’ve been thinking recently that I should try a few different things to see if it gets me writing more. Thanks for giving me a push to do so! 🙂

  12. I’ve woken up and just had the urge to write down everything I’m thinking. Not always the most organizing writing I do, but its usually about a dream I had. How often are dreams really straightforward anyway right? Other times before I start writing, I like to just listen to some music. I’ve never really had issues facing a blank page I just write whatever comes to mind concerning the particular subject and just edit and organize later on.

  13. This may sound strange, but some of my best writing has come out of drawing what I want to write with crayons, and even describing what the five senses are experiencing in the drawing. I know it sounds kooky, but some of my best stuff has come out of this approach. I think it’s because I’m really focused, and not just aimlessly typing on the laptop first.

    • Each writer has his or her own way of creating. Yours works for you. I don’t think what you do is strange or kooky — some people use other artists’ paintings or photography to get going. Keep it up! And thanks for your comment….

  14. I don’t write much non-fiction because I prefer fiction…always have. When I get stuck on one of my stories one of the things that I do is I interview the character I’m stuck on…or take a personality test in the mindset of that character. It doesn’t work 100% of the time but it’s proven to be useful to me

  15. I found this very inspirational as I am facing lots of college writing at the moment. For some reason, assigned subjects are very difficult to be excited about! The walking tip is great, as are long showers….tends to get my mind wandering really well.

    • Good luck with all the college writing — think of the assigned subjects like a journalist. You’re writing about them for others to read, learn, enjoy. I’ve now counted 2 people who think well in showers! Thanks for your comment.

  16. I am currently reading Osho’s Creativity. It seems a cliche but how he discusses creativity is something different. For one, he said that creativity flows when there is inaction. It’s a good, different read on creativity. You may find some stuff that applies to you there…=>

    • Thanks for sharing your reading about creativity. I’m not familiar with that particular book, but I’d agree about inaction. Or to do something boring to the mind like housecleaning, driving, walking, etc. Thanks for the comment!

  17. I usually have the entire story flowing through my mind like a movie! This makes it a lot easier, but there’s still that issue of the blank page and how to write that illusive first line…

    You’ve got some good tips here – thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Ugh! That first sentence. I sometimes just write the first thing that comes into my head just to get going. I can always go back later and revise. Thanks for your comment!

  18. For me, it helps when I read other books and when I also listen to music. 😉

  19. Interesting post! I have tried outlines, character sketches, timelines, and none of them work for me. My characters tell the story as soon as I sit down to write. I have a general idea of what I want to write about, and that’s about it. The stories have ways of unfolding in ways I could never have imagined. I’m only the conduit for the characters to tell their stories. I suppose every writer develops his/her own process, and what works for one may not work for another.

    • Character sketches help me listen for the character’s voice. I need that to write dialogue. Even then, I can still have problems with it. Thanks for your comment!

  20. I tend to work out my plots in my head before I start drafting anything, and my most productive time to let the ideas develop is when I’m driving. Off goes the radio and I let my 40 minute commute turn into 40 minutes of contemplating characters and motivations and outcomes to flesh out the rough ideas. I get ideas frequently and don’t usually write any of them down. It’s the ones that keep coming back, the ones with staying power, that end up getting written.

    • Exactly! I used to beat myself up about not writing down every single idea that popped into my head. I used to have folders filled with idea notes that never went anywhere. I think the ideas that keep banging on the door are the ones that connect with something I’m passionate about. Thanks for your wonderful comment!

  21. I really like your blog. As a writer I find that different things motivate me. This is very inspiring. The best material comes from just getting to work. The idea to get started and then doing so are the hardest part of writing. The content and clarification of your message will follow.

    Don’t get swayed by anyone or anything. There are obstacles in our daily life that detur our goals. The only one that can stop them is you.

    Dan G

  22. When I’m stuck for an idea, I make tea. First comes the cup. Do I go with the large plain white one, or the floral one my daughter gave my wife for Mother’s Day a few years ago? I choose the plain white one because I don’t want any distractions and the floral, well, it’s a bit feminine and I am, afterall, writing from a guy’s point of view. Next, the tea. Plain Lipton orange pekoe, or do I go with something more exotic. I want caffeinated, but is now the time to break open that tea from Tanzania. I mean, what if it tastes horrible –that’ll really kill my mood. I go with the Lipton. Though I don’t like sugar in my coffee, a little honey in the tea would be nice. Whoops! Out of honey. Let’s see, we have Domino sugar, and some organic crap. Skip the sugar, I’ll have something sweet with my unsweetened tea. Snackwells ….. all out, granola bar ………… caramel ginger? “What the *****.” Nutri Grain Three Berry ……………. good, just tasteless enough not to feel guilty. Now, do I have this in the kitchen, or should I take it back to my desk, let’s see ………….. Well, you get the idea. By the time I finish my tea, it’s almost time for dinner. Glass or two of wine, and we’re looking at a rain delay that could take us till tomorrow. A good night’s sleep, that’s what I need, and the ideas will be flowing like oil from a BP rig. Actually, in answer to your question I, too, walk. Good post, and congratulations!

  23. Thanks for sharing this insight into your creative (writing) process. Although I haven’t tried the outline-ahead-of-time-approach lately, I’m toying with the idea of trying it. Like you, I do a lot of thinking while walking outdoors. Freud referred to the talking cure. I know there have been others who’ve believed in the walking cure. Thanks for the food for thought.

  24. sarahjamalwriter

    Wow awsome insight and ideas.

  25. Reblogged this on The life and times of Sarah Elizabeth… and commented:
    i can relate to this at the moment

  26. Thoughtful post.

    My creative process seems as eclectic as the projects I engage. No single method could work for me. Some writers sit in nearly the same place at nearly the same time, fulfilling nearly the same word count quota every time they write. I find that suffocating. I prefer the unexpected … a bag of tricks, a tool box, a deck of tarot cards, if you will.

    One of my favorite tricks is to gather all my characters in a single setting, like a cast party, only it’s held previous to the production, not after. It can be at a bar, a Starbucks, a bowling alley. The point is to have them interact in ways that teach you something surprising about them. Oh, and it’s great fun too.

    • Sounds like you like to eavesdrop on your characters all together. Another variation is to interview them one-on-one. You can interview them as if you worked for “60 Minutes” or for “Entertainment Tonight.” Have fun, but also listen for the character’s distinctive voice. Thanks for your comment!

  27. Fascinating post. My mind is constantly tossing around ideas, so trying to channel my creativity isn’t always easy. But it’s always interesting, that’s for sure 🙂

  28. A double shot cappuccino in a coffee bar … works every time for me.

  29. It was either Oscar Wilde or Bart Simpson who said ‘your subconscious wants to write – YOU get out of the way!’

    I can only endorse that – to me, whatever drags my subconscious out of its lair, gets it in front of the screen and starts it writing – that’s what works.

    My technique is sit and write and write – then the next day throw out the first twenty minutes worth, that’s rubbish I wrote – the rest is the genius my subconcious wrote.

  30. I try not to face totally blank pages unless I know what’s going on them.
    I write every day longhand, before I leave my bed, in a shorthand notebook, one day leading into the next only separated by a line drawn beneath the previous day’s musings.
    Ideas bang around in my head all the time (too many really) and getting words down on paper helps clear that.
    Sometimes I write a lot of rubbish, sometimes it works out to a piece I may use later as a blog post or a poem or a piece of my current novel.
    The important thing for me is to get scribbling. And to try to avoid the blank page.

    • Well, that’s an interesting strategy, Pat. It’s been ages since I’ve heard from a writer who writes in longhand. I write a journal longhand, and usually the first draft of a screenplay, but everything else starts and ends on the computer now. I’m just thinking about opening a chapter file — it’s not really a blank page either because there are pages there already! But of course, before I wrote anything, there was the blank page…. Thanks for taking the time to add a comment.

  31. Beautiful written. It made so much sense to me!
    I’m hooked at the idea of being outdoors with no music. I will definitely try that out!
    Thank you so much! 🙂

  32. Reblogged this on This beautiful life.

  33. Hi, I read your post and it rang a big bell with me. I’ve been doing little bits of speculative fiction writing for a few years now, but since the start of this year I’ve had no linearity whatsoever – different projects bubble up on different days.
    It’s partly because I haven’t had time to do any writing (preparation for emigration took up a lot of time) so I wasn’t trying to work on anything, but I’ve been thinking about stories for long enough that I couldn’t help thinking about my stories from time to time. It’s actually been great, because I just let the ideas bubble up without having to force myself to do anything with them, so I’ve had a few developments that will make the projects much richer when I get back to working on them. I also have a sneaking feeling that the projects are cross-pollinating, and that improvements I make to one story plan also give me ideas for how to improve another one.
    So I’m all in favour of non-linearity in writing!

    • I love it! You know, though, it’s a good idea that if one project starts pulling harder for your attention to concentrate on that and put the others on the shelf for a while…. Thanks for adding your comment here.

  34. Awesome, Awesome, Awesome….What more can I say!
    First two lines got me busted… 😀 😀 😀

  35. Thanks for sharing some tips on writing. I tried writing a short sci fi story once upon time (around 6 years ago) and that was the very first time that I tried using my imagination to come up with something original, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to complete the story. I only ended up writing around 900 words or so and I soon went out of ideas. I gave myself a break for a month or so and then when I wanted to continue writing I suddenly felt demotivated, and the reason for that was because I was short on imagination. 😦

    • You’re not “short on imagination”! You just haven’t given it much exercise, it sounds like. Having said that, you know your own mind best, and if you prefer to write nonfiction, that still takes creativity and writing craft. Thanks for your comment!

  36. I agree – inspiration strikes long before you get to your keyboard which is why it’s essential to keep a notebook with you. I use the notes app on my mobile phone so I never miss an idea.

  37. My own special way of getting my mind ‘into the zone’ and ready to write is maybe odd, but it works for me: I do a particular sort of word puzzle. Puzzler magazine calls it ‘Missing Links’, and it’s basically a matter of finding the word that links three other words – say, for the words BREEZE, SIDE and RED, the connecting word would be SEA – sea breeze, seaside and Red Sea. They’re not usually quite that simple, but almost! I think it’s a matter of shoving the brain over the line into a state of semi-dreamy associative meandering.

  38. Walking, always good. If ever I’m stuck on a plot point, I generally go for a wander, forget the book entirely and, almost without fail, something pops up unexpectedly somewhere along the route.

    • Thanks for leaving a comment — if you live near cliffs, I hope that part of your walks do not involve jumping off them. Instead, I imagine your moniker is more about being fearless and taking chances….

  39. I’m definitely a walker, too. In fact, I’ve got a million ideas (well, maybe 3 or 4 good ones) swirling around in my mind right now. So I walked the dog. We got about halfway through the neighborhood when I was suddenly hit with the EXACT WORDS I wanted to write, but I didn’t have paper! I practically ran home, chanting the words to myself over and over, hoping I’d remember them by the time I got home.

    I did. Whew!

    • Carry a little notebook and pen! I used to carry a big notebook, but got tired of lugging it around. Now, I make sure I have large pockets for pens and a little notebook in my clothes and my purse. Glad you made it home and remembered what you wanted to write!

  40. You are absolutely right. I never thought about it but when I win over my laziness and go for a walk I indeed find enough excitement to come back home and write. Problem is how to continue writing if you don’t have enough time to write? I have dozen of novels I started writing and I still haven’t found the strenght (or call it inspiration – or the good walking path 😉 ) to complete a single one…

    • Thanks for the comment. Your unfinished novels — in my experience, unfinished stories have one of two causes: 1)lack of discipline and commitment for the writing or 2) the story idea is not viable, i.e. it’s an Act 1 sketch rather than a full-fledged 3-act story (set-up, conflict, climax/resolution).

  41. My process varies at times, but usually it’s like this: As I sit to begin writing, I have a main idea that has interested me enough to want to expand upon it. Then it’s as if the words are literally rushing at the gates to get out, as the initial idea turns into a host of fictional worlds, lives and concepts. I usually like quiet, but sometimes Enya joins me on these wild rides :). All the best with your own work.

  42. Reblogged this on ithinkthereforeidigress and commented:
    Just back from a trip away with my mates to Brugges (which was a fantastic trip). I am, as a result, slightly tired so I will be returning to actively blogging shortly. I have something known as writer’s block 😛 . Also I am using more of my time on compiling my poetry/short-prose collection so that I can get some exposure in the creative industries and test my entrepreneurial spirit. 🙂

  43. One pargraph, one sentence, one phrase, one word, and the page is no longer blank.

    S. Thomas Summers
    Author of Private Hercules McGraw: Poems of the American Civil War

  44. Great post! I’m pleased to say we seem to have a very similar style of preparing for a story. Personally, if I had one piece of advice for writers it would be “Get or borrow a dog!”
    I spend hours with Boo wandering around thinking of stories and plots, I do most of the thinking in fairness, he tends to concentrate on the wandering.
    I also try to never sit down with a story until i absolutely have to, until i can’t take it any further in my mind until I commit some of it to paper (I’ve a small brain).
    Works for me, and it grants me the luxury of never staring at a blank page!

  45. Interesting. I’m an artist, and it’s kind of the same with drawing: the fear of a blank page! I have a sketchbook that I use a lot. When I’m drawing, everything is fine. But as soon as I reach the next page, it just stares at me, and there is nothing I can do. The ideas come later, while I’m busy doing something else. They just pop into my head. And if I go to face that blank page right away, it doesn’t work. I need to see it clearly in my head, to develop the details well before that. And this process takes place while laying on the couch, or walking…

  46. lovely write up! this is helpful

  47. Writing is like magic. I love how there are different tones, depending on the topic and the writer. Its amazing, and you wrote so well about it! =]

    • A lot of the magic also comes from reading voraciously. I read to learn how to use words rather than for how to develop story or characters. Thanks for your comment.

  48. I personally find that “writing begets writing” which is to say that I have to write something in order to write something. That means, getting SOMETHING written on the page, something to work with even if it will have no part in the final piece. Those initial words function as a launching point for me as I slowly build momentum. Instead of deleting that section, I keep pushing it down to the bottom area which I frequently re-visit and add to. It ends up being a pool of ideas that I dip into and occasionally I can snip out sections for use in the piece or just get re-inspired by some of my original notions.

  49. I just read this quote today, “My ideas usually come not at my desk writing but in the midst of living – Anais Nin”. I love what you said about going for a walk and OBSERVING – so inspirational! Thank you. Jenny

  50. Reblogged this on thejennyjacobs and commented:
    Great post!

  51. Liked this a lot. Chimed true.

  52. You describe so well the creative process I “use.” I put the use in quotes because the play dates happen but the getting it down on paper is a whole nother thing. Ya know! Thanks for the post and congrats on being Pressed!

  53. No, I have all but considered my creative process. However, my prelude to step #1 usually looks something like a bag of York peppermint parties and a few solid games of Call of Duty. After that, no blank screen can intimidate me. Congrats on the fresh press =)

  54. Well written post. I get my most creative ideas in the shower or in my dreams. Considering how nebulous both scenarios are, I don’t write that frequently. However, I do believe that no amount of reading books on writing could eventually make you write a good piece. We learn to write by writing only. Ironically I read this in a book “On writing well” by William Zinsser
    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    • The two places where problems are most often solved: in the shower and in our dreams. I agree with you about writing to learn to write. But I’d also encourage others to read other authors in their genre. It helps to stay current with what publishers are buying as well as what readers are reading. And it’s fun, by the way!

  55. I enjoyed your post. I’ve been considering my creative process a great deal lately. Trying to carve time to write daily, discovering the monotony of walking on a track, showering or cooking helps the creative thoughts flow. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

  56. Loved your post. I find my process to be a little all over the place as well. My ideas come in pieces. I write them down and they continue to pop up in my head until they somehow form together. It isn’t the most efficient process, but it’s working for my mind! I find many times that my characters originate from random ideas rather than starting with a character and personality in mind.

    • It’s great that you’re listening to your imagination rather than trying to force it to do your will. Each writer has his or her own process, and it’s essential to listen to what your mind and imagination are saying/doing. Thanks for the comment.

    • Oh, it’s not that harsh. If you look at it this way: the things most worth doing are the things that require hard work. It’s hard work to write and write well. Thanks for your comment.

  57. Once I know what I want to write about, I often get hung up on how to start. Sometimes I begin halfway down the page thinking that I will fill in the beginning later. Sometimes I have trouble ending too! But I think the best technique I have is to write today then let it sit for a day. I feel that when I take a break from my writing I get to look back at it with a clearer head.

  58. You get ideas walking…I often get them while on my walking tour at work (I’m in Security). Come see some of my inspirations, if you have the time: ourpoetrycorner.wordpress.com. And happy writing! Not sure I could ever take the plunge and do it professionally…and my one book of poetry isn’t selling.

    • Thanks for the invitation, Jonathan! I’m sorry that your book isn’t selling. Poetry can be a tough sell. I didn’t really get into poetry myself until I was an adult. I read it, not write it. The connections in the brain necessary to write poetry don’t exist in mine. Thanks for leaving the comment and good luck!

  59. This is great! I got my degree in creative writing, and in the nearly two years since I graduated from college, I haven’t worked much on my fiction at all (in my defense, I’m getting two master’s degrees, but mostly I’m just lazy and full of excuses). I’m gearing up for a write-a-thon starting this Thursday, and my plans are to make three goals: two novel outlines, 10,000 words of fiction, and consistent blogging. I’m hoping that the multiple goals, like you mentioned, as well as the opportunity to represent a great nonprofit and make the money my parents’ friends have pledged go to good use will keep me creative and always going.

  60. I don’t know, sometimes it just seems like “those people are running around in my head again.” — Then I think I should write something down.

  61. Remember in school everyone would get all stressed about doing a book report up in front of the class..? THAT never bothered me…but the stress of writing, rewriting, and rewriting to find the words to create the pictures and make the mood perfect…now THAT is difficult! Thanks for writing about the experience…

    • I never had a problem with book reports, either. The problem was the teacher’s, actually — she couldn’t keep up with my reading! I kept asking for more and more books….(smile) Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

  62. Music helps a lot. That’s why I love discovering new music.

    • Too true. I love J.S. Bach keyboard works, Sibelius, Barber, anything that has my attention at the moment. But I particularly love Baroque music because it is so structured and there’s such freedom and creativity within the structure. Thanks for the comment.

  63. Oh thank you! Ive been saying this forever!
    Writing doesnt start when you sit in front of a screen. I start days before, inside my head, plotting, laying out my blueprints.
    I already have the schematic when I sit down!

  64. This is a great post!

  65. Setting a schedule and writing something, anything, every day helps exercise the writing muse muscles. I’ve been struggling with a project likely and appreciate your (and others’) suggestions. 🙂 Jane

  66. Thanks for the great post. I think that my biggest hurdle is that, when feeling daunted by the task ahead, I tend to procrastinate. I’ve learnt to commit myself to the writing process, allow my mind to go blank and to then start writing. Everything somehow just flows once I start putting my words down on “paper” and they oftentimes move in a direction other than how I’d envisaged that they would.

    • Ah, letting the writing speak for itself. Bravo to you! If you’ve ever seen the movie Contact, you might remember what Ellie’s dad used to say to her when she was faced with a big thing. “Small steps.” Break up the project into smaller projects and it’ll be much less daunting…. Thanks for the comment.

  67. Most of my creative thought takes place in front of a sink. I keep small notebooks near all of them. I also have waterproof notes attached to my shower wall. Television and music are off most of my time home. I find if there’s nothing to clutter or distract my mind I can allow my mind to focus on a thought trail.
    Nice post.
    Alexandria Sage

  68. I find that, like you, I seem to have a non-linear way of thinking when it comes to writing. I have two ideas I’m thinking about at the moment, and seem to constantly be facing this mental juxtaposition between one thought and idea, losing sense of which fits into which world, and which aspects of one story may actually subconsciously be for the other story.

    I find my writing comes best when I write down some basic thoughts, ideas and plans with pen and paper. For some reason, when I sit and stare at a computer screen, I can’t seem to get my thoughts down. There’s just something that feels more creative about turning pages, scribbling things out, and looking back later at the ideas that you’ve had and have decided against, the ones you decided against but could maybe in reflection tweak them a bit, and the parts where you’ve completely lost what you were thinking and rambled on and on.

    That’s how I work, but I think this is a really interesting post – if we knew how to engage our creative mind constantly, or knew where our creative thoughts and impulses originated from, then I think the final product would seem less of an achievement.

    • Thanks for the interesting, wise comment. I find that my creativity responds the most powerfully to classical music — my imagination seems to just love to come out and play when I’m listening to it. As for why or where the imagination originates…I tend to think in terms of the soul. Art, of any medium, when created passionately, can be a spiritual experience.

  69. I write until I can’t write any more. Write when I wake up, write before I go to sleep. Carry a notebook everywhere and when I have the urge, I write it down. Then I edit.

  70. Great post. Certainly something I can relate to 🙂

  71. Gee, I always have trouble beginning to write too, but I think you’re right: you’ve just got to let your flow go and be there for it. Hope you get around to writing your short story or essays soon(cuz we all know the procrastination bug bites bad, haha)!

  72. This is so coincidental its kind of awesome. I’ve been reading account after account of how simple it is for this writer and writer (both aspiring for publication and those whom already have hit that and kept going) to write up an outline, know exactly what’s going to happen and when, get their characters and worlds down and they’re off!

    I’m working on two separate novels. I’ve plotted one but its not an outline. I don’t know everything that’s going to happen and I don’t know all the small little details. I need to do character and world building.
    But for now, I’m plotting my WIP in which I already have a rough draft finished (yay!). I’m finding my re-plotting is much more in depth this time.

    It’s strange how everything works out. We have to figure out that balance between knowing enough not to bring on that “stuck-what-happens-next” nightmare. But we have to not bog ourselves down to the point that we snuff out our creativity and excitement for the story in our heads.
    But I find that I’m aching to get back to the actual writing faze! I enjoy plotting but its difficult not to jump into the craziness flying around in my head.

    • Congratulations on finishing a rough draft! That’s a huge achievement. Now the fun begins. 90% of writing is rewriting. I love to rewrite. Sometimes, writing or sketching out an outline helps fuel me and my imagination. I tell myself that it’s not in stone, and I’m using it as a prod. Doesn’t always work, but when it does, it’s magic. Thanks for the comment.

  73. I found the first 20% of a book to be the hardest part. Once you get past that and get into the mindset of the characters it just flows out of you like water. If it doesn’t flow the story may not work. Don’t be afraid to go back and overhaul or even put on a back burner to work on something else until you have that ‘ah ha’ moment that makes everything click for you.

  74. since i’m writing my own story I often find that looking through old journals or pictures can really help spark the story. but the greatest advice I ever received was to commit to write everyday. even if you don’t know what to do or say. sometimes the best tales come when you didn’t know how to start.

    • Good for you that you made the commitment! Another trick I’ve heard from more than one writer: make sure to end your workday either in the middle of a sentence or in the middle of a scene. It’ll be easier to pick up the flow the next day…. Thanks for your comment.

  75. You did a great job taking a well worn writer’s complaint and showing it in a fresh way. I especially enjoyed the imagery of the rational mind and creative side watching on as you showed them your seriousness of intent by writing on paper. I am sure I will think of this numerous times as I struggle and sucessed in my own creative output.

  76. At work I encourage my class to draw doodles in the margin while we’re talking through the inspiration for a piece of writing so that they’re not faced with an ’empty’ page; I find this especially effective with children with Special Educational Needs. When writing directly on the computer I get them to type a line of utter gobbledegook so that the screen has something on it.
    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed.

  77. “Be there for the flow” – it sounds magical, and when it happens it is, but it’s also kind of terrifying. Thanks for sharing your creative process.

    • Fear can be an effective motivator when harnessed or channeled in the right direction, like anger. Harrison Ford once told an interviewer that he always knew when he needed to take an acting job if he feared it in some way. He knew then that he’d be challenged and he’d grow as a result. Wise words. Thanks for the comment.

  78. I always enjoy tips on writing from other writers and I’ve found bloggers offer some excellent tips. I was most drawn to “Creativity knows no standard process, no linear process.” I really couldn’t agree more. Sometimes I’ll get this grand idea for a new script or story and the ideas flow so liberally that I just know it’ll be easy to complete because the ideas are some plentiful, But then the next day, or a week later I am no longer motivated on that particular process. But I have pages and pages of notes for the day that I take interest again. It’s kind of just about making the avenues for ideas as open as possible and writing what allows itself to be written. Writing is about patience.

    Thanks for the post! It was inspiring.

  79. This is one of my biggest struggles. Getting the ideas is one thing, getting them organized and on paper is another. Thanks for sharing!

    • And it doesn’t help that there’s no one way to do it, either! Sometimes it helps to break a project into smaller pieces; e.g. for a short story, write one page at a time rather than thinking about the whole story. This also seems to help the imagination to really dig in and reveal good stuff about story, characters and conflict. Thanks for the comment!

  80. Excellent piece. Personally I find that sitting down, and writing something – anything – is usually enough to get me going. Other times I will play out whole chapters in my head like a movie before I begin, crazy right?

  81. thespacebetween2

    Great post. Have I considered my own creative processes? no. The only creative writing I have done is on blog.com and I had to make sure the reader understood what I was doing by putting a disclaimer at the end, mabye I should be more confident or mabye erring on the side of caution is fine for my creative writting attemps!

    Please check my blog at:

  82. I’m still working on my process. I like to read posts like this because I’m secretly hoping one of them will tell me what mine is. Which they don’t of course but they give me clues. Thanks for the clue!

    • You’re welcome! But here’s another clue: you won’t really know what your process is until you actually use it, so get your behind in that chair and start writing! (smile) Thanks for the comment.

  83. Great post. I get many ideas walking, looking through photographs, and reading other people’s blogs. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed.

  84. I have my journal and I have my stories. Sometimes, I have to start with my journal to get out of my head the insecure ramblings of my mind. Once that’s out of the way, I can tackle my stories. Sometimes, I’m compelled to write my stories cause my insecure ramblings are so boring to write. Sometimes my stories come out like a river and sometimes like a dripping faucet. I find the homily, “don’t get it right, get it written,” to be very helpful. I can always rewrite and I love that part of the process.

  85. Walking, is the best tool. Letting my mind have a walk always works well for me. 😀

  86. Thank you for sharing this!! I have two essays and some other stuff to write, and I was out of inspiration.. Not anymore! 🙂

  87. Walking inspires me to write, too! That’s why I’ve been known to jot stuff down on my hand, shoe, gum wrapper, napkin…

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