Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A to Z Challenge: Bravery

Welcome to the second day of the A to Z Challenge, new and veteran novelists alike.

Today, I want to introduce you to the most intimidating obstacle to be found when you're starting to write. It's one that even makes us veteran's cringe and flinch away. Even after many many encounters with this... deep... dark... okay dark won't work.

Two dimensional... blank... white... first... page.

Okay, vets, you can stop hissing at it.

Ah good. I see some of you have your writing utensils out.

You see, new kids, there's only one way to beat the scourge of the blank page. You need to be brave.

You need to look the pages right in the... uhm... blankness and find something to write on it. Don't hesitate. Don't think about the best way to approach it. The longer you wait, the bigger the page's intimidation grows.

Attack it.  Just write. And keep writing until the page is full.

And once it is, attack its little brother the second page too.

Once you get it done, you'll find you'll have a few days of furiously easy and fun writing. Enjoy it!

When was the worst time you had to face a blank page?

117 comments:

Suzanne Furness said...

Look at a blank page as new possibilities and new adventures. It makes it less scary!

Nick Wilford said...

Every time is pretty scary. Can't pick one out! One thing's for sure, they look better with a few words on them.

Melissa said...

Hiss!

Oh, wait. It's just a comment box. I can do this. :P
Great post. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

The last time was difficult. Took me months to come up with an idea so I could even make an outline.

randi lee said...

I have a blank page I'm looking at right now and man, it's taking me a while to figure out what to do with it--but I will keep looking until something comes of it :)

Bish Denham said...

And... it's understanding that that first page may be scrapped for a new one!

michelle said...

Be brave and bold... *repeating the mantra*
What if the attack works on the first one, but the little brother puts up a fierce fight... he might just be the stronger of the two...

JasonZavoda said...

I love blank pages. There is always a new one ready for words. Words, words, words, just let them spill out. Don't look for meaning, don't try for perfection, just let your words free and see where they may lead you. Open your door and see the road and know that it leads everywhere. Open your mind and look at the blank page and know that it contains everything, every scrap of imagination, every story ever told, every story that will ever be told. The blank page just wants to be filled. It is forgiving and never ending.

Sometimes my blank page is a napkin, a scrap of paper, the margin of a book. The blank page is the Golden Fleece, the Grail, the farthest reaches of the universe, the door into the unknown.

A writer writes and when they have written and stopped, when they no longer hunger for the blank page, they are merely an author, someone who has written and may never write again. The blank page is life. Don't fear it, enjoy it.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I'll be tackling a blank page soon.

Rosalind Adam said...

That's the best of advice. Just keep on writing... although I have to admit that a pristine sheet of white (or even worse ivory) is a bit daunting.

Rosalind Adam is Writing in the Rain

Crystal Collier said...

NO KIDDING! It doesn't matter if all I type is, "Writing is fun. Have a great day writing." As long as I have SOMETHING on the page, I can write. If it's blank, well, you might find me hiding behind my cheese. =)

Manzanita said...

Be brave to run with the bulls.
Manzanita
Wanna buy a duck

Michael Di Gesu said...

Terrific advice Misha....


ATTACK the PAGE.... That's what I always do....

Al Diaz said...

Attack the page....hmmm, do you think it would work too if I just eat it?

Betty Alark said...

Practice makes better and better!

For Betty, thought comes before even looking at a blank page. Otherwise a blank page remains blank. After thought comes Betty's muse takes over!

Writing is an emptying of the soul and spirit! It is vision becoming etched on paper!

Enjoyed your post, Misha!!

Ameron said...

I've learned that you can never write too much. I've also learned that it's more important to get words on a page than to get it perfect the first time. Don't worry about structure, don't even worry about spelling, just write. Once you've got something on the page the rest is just clean up. By loosening up on structure you're better able to get the ideas down.

Maria Dunn said...

Hi Misha. Ah the "Just Write" concept. This is so important to all of us, beginning writers in the first grade, beginning writers in adulthood, and experienced writers hitting a wall. Just write. I never associated it with the idea of bravery before, but you are right because it can often if not usually be fear that keeps us from putting pen to paper. And bravery applies to not only that but willingness to tackle difficult subjects on paper in life. Thanks for encouraging us today to be brave. God bless, Maria from Delight Directed Living

sassyspeaks said...

I'm going through a phase like that at the moment. So I joined the A-Z Challenge. Write something, anything and it will flow... eventually

Natasha Duncan-Drake said...

Great advice, once there are words it's much less scary. The blankest page I've ever had was when I started the novel I published first (it wasn't the one I started writing first :)). I literally had no idea even what the concept of the novel was, I just knew I wanted to write a YA. So I just started writing with no idea what was going to turn up on the page - it was most exhilarating.

Susan Roebuck said...

oh that wondering what to write! I seem to get it nearly every time I start a new chapter - even scenes have me stumped sometimes. Yes, just getting down to it and just writing can help that (I often end up with waffle though *sigh*)

C. Lee McKenzie said...

Oh yes. I agree with this one! It always surprises me when I see the words start across that blank page.

Sarah said...

Ah, the bane of existence, the blank page...good thing I like to pants it...otherwise I'd spend all my time plotting and get absolutely nowhere :)

M. J. Joachim said...

Write and keep on writing - absolutely right!

The Desert Rocks said...

Great post Misha. I always say at least put one word down and then describe the word in detail. It's one way of getting the writer moving....

J.L. Campbell said...

Hi, Misha,
The blank page is the worst thing to face when a deadline is racing toward me and I'm fresh out of ideas. Once I get going though, the words continue flowing.

L.G. Smith said...

My worst blank page moment is coming up. I have to write the synopsis to my WIP. Blah! Hate the synopsis. But once I get those first words down and start to organize it usually goes better. I just dread it in the beginning.

Rena said...

I love these Misha! I'm not a hiss-at-the-first-page writer, I know what you mean. It ain't easy.

Suzanne said...

Congrats on signing with Etopia! I also have a book out through them :) Nice to meet a fellow Etopian and South African!

J. A. Bennett said...

I love looking at a page right in the blankness, lol!!

Cathy said...

I am definitely not a writer, but sometimes just facing a blank blog post is very intimidating. I totally get what you're saying just from that point.

Empty Nest Insider said...

I like how you referred to the second page as the "little brother." Great advice Misha!

Julie

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Never falter!!

Adriana Dascalu said...

that dreaded first page...

M Pax said...

I'm facing a blank page now, which is why I'm blog hopping instead of writing :-O No worries. I'll settle into it soon. I did just finish a short story... almost. The ending needs more punch. So, I'm thinking about that.

Angeline Trevena said...

*Shies from the blank page like a vampire from sunlight* I wonder how much of a writer's life is spent watching their cursor blinking...!

I seem to be following you around today Misha; every blog I've commented on, you've commented just before me!

CBame13 said...

My worst blank page was actually recently for a presentation abstract I had to get done. I spent nearly 3 months avoiding it, and finally the weekend before it was due, I finally sat down and wrote it out.
It's amazing how different a page looks with even only a few words on it!

Misha Gericke said...

Hahaha that's interesting. Because I mainly replied to comments on my blog from yesterday's posts. So apparently the same people commented on yours?

But then, I visited about a 100 blog posts in total today, so maybe it was just dumb luck?

Misha Gericke said...

That's a great way to look at it. Thanks for commenting!

Misha Gericke said...

Yeah.

I once broke the blank page curse with the following words:

"The gunk stuck to the roof of his mouth like peanut butter.

He HATED peanut butter."

It ended up in the version of Doorways sold to Etopia. Weird how those things work.

Misha Gericke said...

Lmao. Your comment made my day.

Misha Gericke said...

I can understand that. When you mentioned once that you started working on CassaStorm, I wondered how on earth you'd be able to follow up.

Can't wait to see the answer to that question. :-D

Robin Moran said...

I recognise that blank page all too well. It takes a while to get going, to start the story off and get into the flow but there's no reason to give up. The right beginning will arrive. Great post! :)

Misha Gericke said...

Yeah, sometimes, only looking works. But shh! Don't tell the new novelists. -_^

Misha Gericke said...

Oh yeah! That's big.

New writers put so much value on first words. Only later on does one learn that those first words almost never make it in their original form. If at all.

Misha Gericke said...

All the more satisfaction when you beat the crap out of the little bugger.

*blink blink* Sorry... that was my fantasy writing experience talking.

Misha Gericke said...

That's so true, Jason.

The blank page is a lot less intimidating once a writer stops striving for perfection in the first draft.

Striving is for the edits. :-)

Misha Gericke said...

Good luck!

Misha Gericke said...

Oh yeah. Ivory is scary. But I beat that by scrawling over ivory pages again and again while I drafter.

In my nearly illegible hand.

Misha Gericke said...

Hahahaha yeah I'm like that too. Sometimes, I write "She" or "He" just so there's just SOMETHING on the page for me to look at while I think.

Misha Gericke said...

Preach it, sister.

Misha Gericke said...

Thanks!

Misha Gericke said...

Hahahaha another comment that made my day. :-D

Misha Gericke said...

I'm glad, Betty.

Practice does definitely make writing easier. Thanks for stopping by!

Misha Gericke said...

Oh yeah definitely. That's one of the reasons why I draft the entire first draft by hand.

Just much more liberating. Because I can't go back and try to fix something I'd just written.

Misha Gericke said...

I had to get the concept in early. I'm pretty sure that completing a novel is near impossible without just writing.

Misha Gericke said...

That does help, but only for as long as you don't avoid your novel. ;-)

Misha Gericke said...

Yeah I know the feeling. Exhilaration comes from acknowledging your fear and working through it.

Misha Gericke said...

I also stall at chapter openings. Especially when I have to change PoVs.

:-)

Misha Gericke said...

Same here. I especially love those moments when the words are marching and I can't believe I'm writing them. :-D

Misha Gericke said...

Oh yeah same here. I used to plot. Used to plot any idea I had to death.

Now I'll never go back to plotting for first drafts.

Misha Gericke said...

Glad you agree. :-D

Misha Gericke said...

Glad you agree. :-D

Misha Gericke said...

That's excellent advice! I'll definitely try it next time.

Misha Gericke said...

Same here. Sometimes they flow so thick and fast, I wonder why I was worried in the first place. :-)

Misha Gericke said...

I actually found mine to be reasonably okay in the end. MUCH easier than a query pitch. :-)

Misha Gericke said...

Yeah it's a big challenge. Especially when you're new to writing. :-)

Misha Gericke said...

Nice to meet you too, Suzanne! Thanks for stopping by. :-)(Almost spelled your name the Afrikaans way, there.)

Misha Gericke said...

Hahaha it does have a certain excitement to it. ;-)

Misha Gericke said...

Oh yeah. Blank posts are terrible. Especially if you just can't think of anything to say...

Misha Gericke said...

Thanks, Julie!

Misha Gericke said...

Amen!

Misha Gericke said...

Yeah. Such a pain, sometimes.

Misha Gericke said...

Well, as long as you're still thinking about it, you should be okay. :-)

Misha Gericke said...

Oh yeah... I remember academic blank pages from my university years. Terrible.

Just...

Terrible.

Misha Gericke said...

Usually the beginning arrives significantly later than the ending.

Thanks for stopping by!

Heather M. Gardner said...

I don't mind the blank page really. There is nothing cooler than a brand new notebook that I get to open for the first time. :)

Great inspirational post though!
HMG

Talya Tate Boerner said...

Great tips! I have become much braver since I began to write:))

Kirsten said...

I totally agree. It's just a page, just words. Fill it up! :-)

Just Ermie &
Short Story Ideas

sydneyaaliyah.com said...

I have been trying to write events that I have experienced in a story form and find that harder then coming up with something purely fictional. Strange to recreate in words an event that has actually happened.

Julie Luek said...

Oh it does take bravery doesn't it? Or foolishness. Or both. Sometime I just pull out the Nike slogan and just do it. Just write. Type. Something. Even if it's crappy, it's out there. Then I can tweak to my heart's content.

sharonsant said...

Another fab post. I think you tackled the subject of bravery in a much more meaningful way than I did!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Love this! Attack that blank page! All right, now I'm ready to write again. Thank you!

Carol Kilgore said...

Usually those first words are the hardest. And it never gets easier. I can trick myself by stopping in the middle of a page. Or if I stopped at the end of a chapter, by leaving myself a message of what to write about or even 'start here'. Just so the screen isn't blank.

Lisa Southard said...

Usually love a blank page but had there is the odd time... struggle with blurb. That's my bete noire b word!

Christine Rains said...

That first page can sometimes be intimidating. I can't think of any specific worst time, but there's one WIP I have that I can't get the first page right. Dozens of rewrites and I'm still not satisfied.

The Golden Eagle said...

I don't tend to be intimidated by blank pages--I usually find them easier than working on a page that already has writing on it. But your message of bravery is true for a lot of writing scenarios!

Cherie Reich said...

I don't mind the blank page too much, but the page filled with words that I have to do something with to make it readable to other people besides myself can be much scarier!

A to Z Participant
Cherie Reich - Author and Surrounded by Books Reviews

Ciara said...

Blank pages are okay with me because I close my eyes and start typing.

Damyanti said...

Attack it. Just write. And keep writing until the page is full.

Best advice I was ever given when I first began to write. Thanks for reminding me of it once again.
Damyanti @Daily(w)rite
Co-host, A to Z Challenge 2013

Twitter: @AprilA2Z
#atozchallenge

Krista McLaughlin said...

Just write the first page. Then attack the second page. Great advice!

Jaleh D said...

Blank pages are sometimes easier when it's actual paper, because I can scribble down ideas, however blah, cross them out, write down some more, cross those out, go back to a previous idea, scratch that out, try out a couple more ideas, repeat, go back to idea 2, and so on until I hit on a sentence that prompts a second and a third sentence and a fourth and more I can keep. I might have a page or two of crossed out sentences and fragments, but the act of writing helps get the flow going, and I have proof I was working. The page isn't blank anymore.

One time I dealt with blank page syndrome when I was out somewhere. I started off writing how blank my mind was, then gradually started noting down observations of my surroundings which led to some actually pretty words about one part of it. I've never used those words, but it felt good.

Joyce Lansky said...

I've met a snag with my sixth manuscript. I just can't figure out where I want the story to go and have considered moving my first chapter to close to the end and writing the prequel from there.

http://joycelansky.blogspot.com/2013/04/wordless-wednesday-atoz-bows.html

Sangita Kalarickal said...

Definitely done that when my mind does a brownian motion between thoughts rather like a cue ball on a billiards table!
http://skaypisms.blogspot.com/

Misha Gericke said...

Oh yeah notebooks are different. ;-)

Misha Gericke said...

Yeah that does happen.

Misha Gericke said...

So true. Sometimes we forget, though.

Misha Gericke said...

Those moments are harder, because you need to dig deeper.

Misha Gericke said...

Definitely. Can't edit something you haven't written.

Misha Gericke said...

Awe! I'm glad you liked the post. :-)

Misha Gericke said...

Go go go!

Misha Gericke said...

I tried doing that before, because a lot of people say it helps. But I can't seem to keep the flow right if I stop before a natural break.

Misha Gericke said...

Yeah I recently had to write one too. Did not enjoy it.

Misha Gericke said...

Ouch! You have my sympathy.

Misha Gericke said...

Yeah. Everyone has something in writing they need to be brave about.

Misha Gericke said...

Oh yeah... those are scary.

It's the one thing I can say. When my book got taken up, I was excited to start revisions.

But when it came to starting. I was terrified.

Misha Gericke said...

That's an amazing idea!

Misha Gericke said...

Thanks for stopping by!

Misha Gericke said...

Thanks!

Misha Gericke said...

I know what you mean. Most often, just the act of writing is enough to give me an idea about what I should be getting down.

Misha Gericke said...

That's an interesting thought. Maybe you should play around and see if you like that more.

Misha Gericke said...

Hahaha yeah. We can say we're thinking rather than writing, but it's only when we write something down that an idea forms completely.

Medeia Sharif said...

I remember when it took me forever to attack that blank page. Now I attack it. Planning helps me, as well as the discipline I've developed over the years.

Misha Gericke said...

I've found that practice does make first pages a lot easier.

Ida Chiavaro said...

Great advice - I have discovered through this challenge that I always delete my first two paragraphs - so i put down whatever sequence of events comes to my mind and Nanowrimo taught me not to edit - at least until I have written something - anything ;)

Mina Burrows said...

I need to print this out and paste this post on my computer.

Misha Gericke said...

Haha yeah. The first paragraphs we write are almost never important enough to keep.

Misha Gericke said...

Hahaha but then I don't think you'll be able to see the screen. :-P