Storyteller’s Howl: Blank Page Syndrome (BPS)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Writers, have you ever stared at a blank document file, or a blank pad of paper, and felt your mind seem to sink into  the blankness of the page? Have you ever felt that you were personally becoming one with the nothingness of the virgin writing surface beckoning you to fill it with prose? If you have, then you’re experiencing something I call BPS – Blank Page Syndrome. And there is help for you!

It’s a horrible thing, to be unable to write when you want to. You have the drive, the inspiration, but you’re lacking something that will make you actually start typing or get your pen moving. The page might as well be made of molasses, for all the good trying to type on it will do for you. So you tab away, go on the internet, try and distract yourself from that looming blank page in the background. But every time you go back to it and think now, NOW is the time for you to put pen to paper, you find yourself stuck yet again.

What causes this? This isn’t a lack of inspiration or a drive to write. This isn’t writer’s block. You KNOW what you want to write, but you just can’t seem to make it come out. You have the drive but seem to have lost the ability.

Now, I started this by saying that there’s help, and there is. My personal method relies on the fact that I know how to touch-type. STOP staring at the blank screen. Close your eyes, take yourself to the beginning of your story – and honestly, just start typing. (It’s important to make sure that your fingers were on the home keys before closing your eyes. I’ve made THAT mistake before.)

After you’ve written a few paragraphs or even sentences, open your eyes and look at what you wrote. The page isn’t blank anymore! And suddenly what seemed insurmountable a few moments earlier is now a story that’s gotten rolling, and you can just keep going as long as inspiration maintains.

I’ve actually done this for school papers as well as personal fiction, and even the occasional blog post. Breaking that blank page is the first step to creating something amazing. If you have other ways of getting past BPS, please share in comments!