Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Fear of a Blank Page

I. I am a good outliner. A very good outliner.

A. I learned how to outline way back in high school for thesis papers and speech class and it's a skill that has come in handy for college and grad school and as a writer of screenplays and now, as a writer of novels.

B. I truly believe outlining is a key to avoiding writer's block. If you have an outline, you always have a place to go. This is not to say you have to go there; simply that if you get stuck, you can consult your outline as if it were a map.

B. 1. Hmmm....this fork A seems to go the Mountains of Melodrama. Not sure I'm ready for that right now.

B. 2. Perhaps I should travel to fork B first which is the Funny Freeway and then return to the Mountains of Melodrama.

II. Another writer - someone far better than I - once advised writers not to write until they are exhausted of ideas. In other words, save a little for later.

A. This gives you some incentive to return to your work the next day, since you won't be afraid of that blank page. You'll know that you have material to at least begin your day's work.

B. I think this writer was Hemingway but I can't be sure. So many sayings have been attributed to him, most of them after his death so really, who can verify that?

III. My own personal experience: to avoid writer's block, don't tell other people your story.

A. Once you've told another person, you don't feel the burning need to write it down. It's out there; it's done.