Fear and Loathing Of The Blank Page

Picture this scene as I sat down to write this blogpost.

INTERIOR – JOHN’S OFFICE – MORNING

A man in an Alice In Chains t-shirt and a pair of basketball shorts coughs three times and sits down in a beat to all hell office chair with a cup of tea in hand. He sips, stares out the window and sighs. 

He touches the mouse and the PC’s screen flicks to life. He sips the tea and stares at the white space on the screen. Then he stares out the window. Then back to the white space. Then out the window. Then he thinks about butts and that makes him giggle. Then he has a giggle contest with himself. The white page is still blank.

He makes a disgusted “Ugh” noise, and picks up his phone instead. 

Yeah, that’s how today started. This post will go up on Monday, which is Memorial Day, and I know that the majority of people will be off, and I did have loads of thoughts about “just put up a fluff piece then go strong on Wednesday”, but skipping a day means I can find ways to procrastinate (yes, I know I have editing and translations due in 2 weeks, so it’s not completely procrastinating, but like, blog procrastinating, blogcrastinating), and I’m not gonna skip a day.

So what do I do? I think of my tiny muse. Yes, I have a tiny muse. Imagine a way cooler Tinkerbell who totally gets memes and eats Mexican food and ditch the wings. I’m not sure about the whole constant shed glitter like it’s dandruff thing, I think that’s a weird question to ask a muse (hey do you have glitter dandruff, did I just make you nervous about your hair, wait, where are you going?), so let’s not get hung up on the muse’s awesome hair and go back to what the muse does for me.

In my head, there’s this churning sea of ideas. I always want to be talking about something, explaining something, giving out information. The hard part is that transmission is work, and like a lot of people, I don’t want to work. I want to sit there and have the world come to me, mainly so I can sit on the couch. But that’s grossly unrealistic, so if I’m going to manage the waves of ideas, I have to do the work to get them out. The blog posts don’t write themselves. The edits don’t happen while I’m playing Prison Architect or Sentinels of the Multiverse or watching Netflix.

Bridging that gap is where the muse comes in. So that the blank page changes from “Ugh”, as in oh-dear-sweet-alleged-deities-what-the-mothersizzlestickbits-am-I-going-to-do-with-this-melonfarming**-blank-page-and-the-pressure-I-feel-to-write-something-so-damned-amazing-that-hundreds-of-people-see-it-ugh, to “Okay this space is mine, and I’m going to use it to convey an idea.” **note: yes, I said ‘melonfarming’.

Here’s the idea – the blank space is blank not because it’s a daunting sheet that requires only perfection touch it, but because it’s an empty space hungry for anything to go up on it.

That urge to be perfect is inextricably tied to the idea that only perfect things get read by people. I have over a thousand twitter followers and they can read everything from a writing tweet to my random observations that make me laugh, so I know that I say plenty of imperfect things that people can see, and I don’t think twice about them unless the spelling errors are egregious or the idea is presented unclearly.

So what makes the blank page intimidating? I have conducted extensive scientific research (meaning: I had a second cup of tea and listened to Metallica) and discovered that I’m afraid of being judged negatively. With the potential for the words to go up and stay up there, and be judged negatively (depending on the topic it’s totally possible) while out there, I keep a lot of my dissenting views (dissenting when compared to the majority of my professional and personal circles) to myself. #somanyparentheses

The tricky bit is that I don’t know if the words are going to be judged negatively. I don’t know if they’re going to be judged positively either. They’re Schrodinger’s Words. So if I want to see how they’re going to be received, I have to put them out there. I need to pump the brakes on the page-fear, and think of that page as an opportunity. To help. To explain. To do the stuff I love to do.

And then suddenly, that “Ugh” goes to “Ooh” when I realize that I just found a blogpost and put it together.

See you guys Wednesday. Have a great Memorial Day. Happy writing.

0 thoughts on “Fear and Loathing Of The Blank Page

  1. When I blog, I always feel like I’ve pulled off my underwear and run it up a flag pole. At some point, I think we have to be like all those other people on the internet and pretend no one can see us. I mean people must think that, right? You are a force for good. Be that.

  2. Love your Schrödinger’s Words comparison. I blog – not on writing, but on depression. I write something I think utterly inane and am ashamed, then get comments that folk have found it helpful. I write what I think is pure wisdom expressed in a frame of glittering gold tipped icicles, and I get “Lovely blog…” Meh. Maybe I need a muse. I don’t have a muse. I want my muse to be a big hunky man with muscles and a sensitive soul who will whisper in my ear and promise me a massage if I just write another 1000 words…..

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