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Horror of the blank page Part 2: How to overcome it

In my last post I wrote about the horror of the Blank Page. Today, in honour of NaNoWriMo, I’m sharing a few things I’ve found useful in overcoming it:

  • Set yourself up to work. In other words ‘go through the motions’ – literally – even if you can’t do anything. There was some writer, I forget who, who used to just sit in front of his manuscript, and look at it, for a set period every day. If he could write, great, but he couldn’t do anything else. No internet, no dusting, no admin. It’s brutal but it works.
  • The internet is not your friend (aside from this post of course). Use Mac Freedom, turn off the router, or go to a café where you don’t know the WiFi code. And turn off your phone.
  • If you’re stuck for ideas, use the Pixar trick of ‘What wouldn’t happen?’ to get you started. I did this when I was totally stumped in the first chapter of If I Could Turn Back Time. It opened with the heroine working in department store, secretly broken-hearted over her ex. I thought, ‘What would she not do?’ and came up with a list of nonsense including her running out of the store. And then I thought: that would actually really work … and I made her run out of the store.  (Of course I had to give her a reason for doing this. To find out what it was, you’ll have to read it …)
  • Challenge yourself to write the most awful, terrible nonsense that you can. Set out to write a terrible first draft. This should help remove the performance anxiety a bit.
  • Remember, inspiration follows action and not the other way around. So don’t worry if you don’t have any ideas yet. If you build it they will come.

And if all else fails, there’s always coffee.

Does anyone else have any tips? I’d love to hear them … And good luck with NaNoWriMo!

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