Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Blank Page

            “The blank page is God's way of letting us know how hard it is to be God.” 
             G.K. Chesterton.

The blank page has been terrorizing helpless schoolchildren and innocent aspiring writers for centuries. There are times when everyone feels that they would rather “have written” than “write.” Of course, it’s not always like that. There are times that the words come quickly and eagerly, pushing into the brain faster than they can be written down, sounding coherent and beautiful without effort or editing. Another blank page to fill is joyful and easy and fun. 
But there are no peaks without valleys. And the valleys are first cousins to a high-powered vacuum cleaner. They suck.
That is when the blank page is a horrible thing. When you’d rather see a battalion of grotesque aliens emerge from the sky than try to write another word. When another cup of tea and a walk outside and your best friend’s best encouragement can’t get you past the trauma of beginning to write or continuing to write. When you’ve stared out the window and chewed on your nails and drummed your fingers for what feels like days, and you’re still not able to write that critical first sentence.
Or second sentence.
Or third sentence.
If you find yourself slammed into that bleak and insurmountable wall known as “writer’s block,” I sympathize. So does every other writer there has ever been. Ever. Even most non-writers have experienced this shattering and paralyzing lack of creativity. You are not alone.
Don’t give up, and don’t panic. This does not mean you will never write again. This does not mean you will never write anything good again. This does not even mean that you won’t get anything done today. A cup of tea or a walk outside or some helpful encouragement may be helpful, but they won’t fix it alone. The only that is 100% guaranteed to work is in your own head.
  You are a writer. Do you know the difference between writers and non-writers?
  Writers write.
  There are a lot of non-writers who want to write. There are a lot of non-writers who could write, and could write well. But they don’t have time or they tell themselves they’re not good enough or they don’t want it enough to learn how to do it better. And when they do try and they get the first taste of the terror of the blank page, they give up.
  All the talent and imagination and gifting in the world can’t be depended on. It will desert you when you need it most. 
In the face of writer’s block, what you need is determination, patience, and dedication. Do whatever it takes to find ideas, but keep working until you find one. Take a break and see if it helps, but come back. Don’t let yourself accept failure. 
  Romans 5:3-5 was not written for writers. But it is truth about life and it applies. Rejoice and glory in the tribulation of writer’s block, because this is teaching you patience. Patience enables you to stick it out when things get tough, and you gain experience. Experience gives you hope, because the more times you push through writer’s block and turn that blank page into lines of black letters forming words and sentences and paragraphs, the more you can look back and say, “I’ve been here before and if I could do it then, I can do it now.” Then turn forward and glory in the opportunity to conquer one more time.