Overcoming the Big, Blank Page

By: Marilyn L. Davis

“Confront the page that taunts you with its whiteness. Face your enemy and fill it with words. You are bigger and stronger than a piece of paper.” ― Fennel Hudson, A Writer’s Year – Fennel’s Journal

Blank Page? Fill it Wisely

I have gotten emails from other writers asking how I continue to make my niches new and exciting. They perceive that I do not seem to suffer from Writer’s Block. The reality is that I do, from a different perspective, Writers Glut. I have too many ideas floating in my head, both for Two Drops of Ink and my other blog, From Addict 2 Advocate.

One problem with brain overload is that we have difficulty focusing.

Sadly, for a writer, when we lose focus, we might end up in a situation like Gordon Comstock, the protagonist in George Orwell’s book, Keep the Aspidistra Flying.  Comstock struggles to complete an epic poem, which disintegrates into fragments because the writing is not cohesive.

While information or links enrich our posts, when we use more than necessary to make our point, the post often becomes:

Just in case you didn’t know, the Megillah alludes to five books of the Bible read on certain Jewish feast days and considered by some as long and tedious.

And long and tedious are the last thing people want in a blog post.

With too many words or ideas clamoring for attention, it’s often necessary to find ways to focus. Certainly, you can free write and fill the pages with words, and in turn, move the random thoughts and ideas from brain to paper. Since it’s the first draft, you also don’t have to worry about how disjointed it might be.

However, if you want to make more sense of even a first draft, ask yourself these questions to help you focus. You’ll be sure to get responses that can stimulate your creativity while narrowing the focus.

  1. Are you passionate, angry, or saddened by the subject?
  2. Can you convey your emotions about the issue in powerful words?
  3. Has your viewpoint changed since you wrote about the topic last?
  4. Are you writing about an underdeveloped aspect of the subject?
  5. Does your site need updated information about this particular topic?
  6. Is the online world saturated with information about your subject?
  7. Is this a worthwhile topic?
  8. Is your information correct, factual or accurate?
  9. Can you support your information with credible links?
  10. Can you add useful or valuable information about the topic?
  11. What are your qualifications to write about a topic?

After your point of interest, decide your level of skill in presenting the information. skill einstein expert

  1. Skilled
  2. Authority
  3. Knowledgeable
  4. Professional
  5. Expert

When you establish your skill level about the topic, approach it from the standpoint of the reader. Frame questions to help you narrow your focus.

What were you curious about when you didn’t have much information about the topic? What stimulated this interest? Write as if you’re discovering something beneficial and exciting, as this tone and sense of wonder will translate and engage your readers. When we write from the standpoint of learning and teaching, we aren’t condescending nor pompous in our choice of words and tone.

Remember what you did not know and tell the reader about it. While you’re an authority on the topic now, there’s always a backstory about what you learned. These stories can also add some humor. “Then there was the time that I didn’t understand…” and let your readers know that you’re an authority or knowledgeable, but had to learn a lesson the hard way.

We’ve all made mistakes, in fact, mine was misspelling message with massage and trust me, that one change in letters made my piece unacceptable for small children, even though spell check let it pass. Thank goodness for an editor with an eye for context like Scott Biddulph.

As you learn and write about your topic, you may understand the subtle nuances of it. Elaborate on them. Remember, you’re not writing this as a new topic. You’re writing this with a skilled eye and can expand on the obvious facets of the topic. However, your readers may just be learning about the topic, so teach them. It is not redundant to explain the basic aspects of the topic.

If you have professional or expert knowledge about a topic, you need to let readers know that while any post is your opinion; you back it up with years of experience, your education, or current research. Qualifying your information or credentials is not bragging. You’re doing this so readers learn to trust your posts. Your readers know that you’ve worked in a field, have advanced degrees, or you can let them know where you’ve been published. Letting them know that other sites value your writing goes a long way in establishing this trust.

Even for an expert, it’s not enough to write about the technicalities, subtle nuances, obscure facts learned over the years, or minutiae of the topic; you still have to write new insights, interesting content, and provide original thoughts.

Whichever skill level you have about the topic, it is your writing that will make it worthwhile. Your distinct tone, style, and phrasing can and will make it original, which allows you to produce a stand-out piece.

How you convey your information might be:

  1. Repeating sage wisdom of the ages with a new twist.
  2. Reforming someone’s thinking with persuasive facts, passion, and your point of view.
  3. Revamping one of your old articles with updated information.

Taming Block and Glut

Some days, we simply have to accept that we can’t produce and publish a piece. We’re either too distracted to narrow the focus, too uncertain about our skill level of the subject, or we can’t think of a perspective that isn’t saturated. On those days, unless you have a deadline, give yourself a break.

Adopt the Scarlett O’Hara mentality, “I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow”, or  remember the words of Ann Lamott, “The word block suggests that you are constipated or stuck when the truth is that you’re empty.”

When you think you’re empty, then reference the following:

  1. Have you taken a reader’s comment and expanded on it?
  2. What grabbed your attention today?
  3. What piques your curiosity?

I think writers are often too hard on themselves. Writing is one of the few professions that it’s hard to walk away from because it doesn’t need an office. Furthermore, I’ve never seen any mention of traditional writer hours. For most of us, it’s when we’re awake.

Unlike most other professions, we’re never without the tools necessary to write. We’ve got enough electronics to record our thoughts, and even if there’s a power outage, our phones still have Evernote. Not to mention, paper and pen.

So sometimes, we’ve got to let our brains rest.

  • Jot a few good sentences down.
  • Put the writing in your Darling file
  • Review it the next day.
  • Drink some tea, meditate, take a nap, or call it a day and go to bed and read.

After all, glut and block will undoubtedly pass by morning.

Here at Two Drops of Ink, we also believe that how something is said is just as important as what is said. In this spirit, we invite you to submit your writing.

Two Drops of Ink is accepting submissions for all genres except “R” rated romance or anything politically partisan.

We are proud to collaborate with our guest contributors.

  • We showcase them on Sunday Spotlight.
  • Give their books a boost on The Book Shelf’s Sunday Shout Out
  • Feature humor on Wednesday’s Hump Day Humor.

We hope you consider submitting to an award-winning site.

Two Drops of Ink: The Literary Home for Collaborative Writing

  

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3 comments

  1. Thanks for the wisdom Marilyn. Always informative and unexpectedly funny. It’s a healthy reminder to stay in touch with my passion and viewpoint. I didn’t start writing because I wanted to crank out one dry, gutless article after another just so I could say “I did my part as a writer today.” I think, apart from putting in the necessary work as far as writing is concerned, we would do well to have some faith that our stories have chosen us. We should remind ourselves to enjoy life and write what we can write for the day.

    Liked by 1 person

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