A Writer's Life: Facing the empty page
I’ve been trying to write all week. Some days I think I’ve got an idea that will work, and other days I stare at the blank white space on my screen and that blinking cursor, with no ideas at all. The thing that makes it harder is that my mind isn’t actually blank - there are plenty of thoughts fluttering about, but the fear that fills me cancels them all out. Some people call this writer’s block. I’m not sure I believe in writer’s block though. I’ve written before about how terrified I am to write the words inside me and have them not be good enough, and the reason I keep this blog is to ensure that no matter what, I’m always writing something.
Which led me to this post. That fear can become all-consuming if I let it; I’m so terrified that I’ve put myself out there and claimed this title of ‘writer’ without having a completed manuscript to back it up. Yet the manuscript is slowly forming — at last weekend’s regular writer’s romp I added just shy of another 5k words to it. I am passionate about the stories I want to tell, but getting them out of my head and onto paper is a process that is teaching me a whole lot about my own hang ups, and about persistence. My own past experience matches the words of many writers who have told me that getting the words on the page to begin with is usually the hardest part, and that after that, it’s just a matter of moulding those words into exactly what you want them to be. Yet all the knowledge in the world doesn’t necessarily make it easier to get those words out.
In my heart, if you asked me what I dream about, what I love to do more than anything else, writing is the answer. This word — writer — is the one that feels most like me. I’m still awkward when I talk about writing in person, especially when people ask me about what I’m writing on lately. The thought of sharing it before it’s perfectly formed makes me feel ill! It takes building up a whole lot of nerve to even show anyone any of the writing I have done until I have edited and refined it a hundred times; even then it never feels done. Other writers tell me that this too, is quite natural. So I’m attempting to tackle that blank page yet again, reminding myself that showing up means keeping at it, just getting those words out. As I told a dear friend a long time ago, first drafts are for finding the words. There’s no rule that says they have to be good words, right?