The Dreaded Blank Page

So, you’re a writer.  See if this sounds familiar.

You stare at it and stare at it, and it seems that it stares back, that blasted cursor winking at you, daring you to write something — a word, a phrase.  Anything.

It’s at that point that you remember that you haven’t fed the cat in an hour or so, so you trudge into the kitchen and sprinkle a few bits of dry food into his bowl.  Maybe he could use some water, too, even though he hasn’t touched what you put down for him just a little while ago.  Then it’s back to the computer.

But before you get back to what you’re supposed to be doing — you know, working on your novel — maybe you should check your email.  You tell yourself that you’ll return to your “real” writing directly after that.

— Nothing, at least nothing important.  Just some spam and an item from the news feed you subscribe to.

Okay, let’s see what the specials are today on Amazon.com.

— You read reviews of the new movies followed by your favorites, the ones you’ve seen a hundred times, then check out the new BluRay releases  and read about those, too.  Next, the books, old and new.  You wonder if they still sell Tuscan Milk™ on the “Food” page, or that weird tank thing they sold a few years ago in the now-defunct “Everything Else” category, and before you know it you’re reading reviews of O-rings under “Industrial and Scientific.”  At that point you come to your senses and realize that you’ve gone down a virtual rabbit hole into distraction and avoidance.

So it’s back to the blinking cursor and the empty white page.  Nothing has changed, but of course you knew that would be the case.

Maybe there’s something on TV. . .

It’s the writer’s version of stage fright, that performance anxiety that sets in whenever you are confronted with the empty page, figuratively speaking.  And even though you know that for what it is, and you realize that the only way to overcome it is to simply sit down and force yourself to put something, anything, on the page (again, FS), you can think of a dozen other things you’d rather do instead.  A run to the supermarket; mow the lawn; wash the car; housework (okay, maybe not housework).  Still, you know darn well that the only thing that’s worse than confronting that miserable, taunting cursor is the feeling of guilt and wasted time that you’ll have if you don’t write something today.

So you do what you should have done hours ago.  You pour yourself another cup of coffee, sit down again in your high-backed chair, and start to write.  In no time at all you forget about everything else, and before you know it, it’s dark outside and you realize that you’re hungry.

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