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The horror of the blank page

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This post is almost TOO topical, because:

  • It’s nearly Hallowe’en and also nearly NaNoWriMo.
  • I am starting a new book right now and it’s TERRIFYING.

I have an idea that I’m really excited about, I know more or less what’s going to happen and who the people are … And I know that I’ve done it before, several times, so hopefully I can do it again. But I still don’t know what I’m doing and I spend a lot of time staring blankly at my cursor. It’s like throwing a tiny thread of rope across an abyss. Horrifying.

So what’s so scary about a blank page? There’s fear of failure obviously, and of looking like an idiot even if it’s just you and your laptop. But I think mainly it’s the fact that before you’ve started writing it, your book is pure potential. It exists somewhere out there as a sort of platonic ideal book, a cross between Dickens, Harry Potter and The Iliad, on a golden bookshelf with unicorn bookends. And once you start writing it, you have to make peace with the reality which is a pile of dreck taking up valuable megabytes.

BUT there’s no way around it. Because without those first few shaky pages, which turn into your first few ropey chapters, you’ve got nothing. But if you keep on throwing out your tiny threads, they become a kind of tightrope that pulls you across the abyss. By which time you’ll be totally obsessed with your story.

Now I’m off to stare at that blank page again. Happy Hallowe’en!

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