It’s late on a Sunday evening when I finally have time to sit down and pull up a blank page on my laptop screen, ready to begin today’s Author Note. I’m feeling a certain irony as I do this. My last post was about the importance of stillness, but the only stillness in my weekend came between sets at the gym this morning. Even now the last minutes of the Grey Cup are unfolding on the TV, and snippets of a conversation I’m hearing but not registering join the voices of the commentators and the screaming Saskatchewan Roughriders fans.
My focus at this moment, though, is on the blank page in front of me. I stare at it, and it stares back.
“What have you to say to me tonight?” it asks.
“Is it not you who will be speaking to me in the words I will read as they unfold upon you?” I reply with a mental smile… because this is our regular, oddly-worded shtick.
One of the things that writers talk about is how intimidating the blank page can be… the pressure of staring at it, knowing that it must be filled but totally at a loss about where or how to begin. I’ve felt that a time or two over the years.
But thankfully I’ve also learned a few things with all the writing I’ve done, and the first and most important is to embrace the blank page. It has no expectations of you, no preconceived notions. It passes no judgment on your writing. It’s ready and waiting for whatever it is you decide to say. And it will be there for you always, no matter what.
If it’s hard to find the words to fill a blank page, it really has nothing to do with the page itself, and everything to do with any number of reasons. Sometimes the story isn’t ready yet; sometimes you haven’t actually figured out the message you want to convey; sometimes you don’t have all the information or knowledge or experience you need; and sometimes you’re just trying too hard… so worried that you’ll say the wrong thing (like someone on a first date) that you clam up and say nothing at all.
But the blank page… well, that’s the best friend a writer could have. Indeed, we couldn’t be writers without it.