All too frequently I come across tweets and blog posts by writers and screenwriters who are afraid of the blank page. Perhaps a more accurate way to put that is that they fear what it represents, especially at the start of a new project. Beginning to put freshly crafted footprints across a pristine wordscape can be daunting. There’s always the potential for an early misstep to alter the path you think you’ve
chosen. Sometimes such an opening can be considered a happy accident. Other times…not so happy. A writer prone to endless rewriting or tinkering could end up in an alphabet filled quagmire that blocks the true path to fin.
Since I started writing screenplays the way I was already writing fiction and started writing fiction the way I was already daydreaming, I’ve never had much of a problem with the blank page. It was only well after I got into fiction writing that I realized that what I thought of as daydreaming was actually my brain plotting fiction, but neglecting to let me in on that crucial little fact. In hindsight, and in that case, the writer in me started manifesting when I was a little girl. That’s awfully cool. I wish I’d figured it out way back when I was studying to be a journalist.
The daydreaming to plotting thing segued right into cinematic fiction and screenwriting plotting, complete with imagery and sound. I work on stuff in my head, until it’s ready to burst onto that initial blank page. It’s as if the characters walk onto the computer screen from my brain when they’re ready, and that’s an exciting time. It makes the whole process a series of adventures in creativity, one page at a time. Each click over onto the next page leads to a blank canvas waiting to receive the next phase of the adventure.
This doesn’t mean I don’t get stuck sometimes. People have been writing themselves into corners for a long time. Probably all the way back to some beleaguered soul cursing at his papyrus, as he washes down the time’s equivalent of chocolate with its companion coffee prototype. Intense creativity is inherently frustrating and scary and impossible…at times. But that passes. The rest of the time can be fun and exhilarating and joyous.
I think the way to not be afraid of the blank page is to not look at it as an overchallenging monster. Something set before you to taunt and elicit insecurity. If it can be seen as the doorway to an experience which at that stage is for the writer alone, it can be an invitation to wonder instead of a reflection of selfdoubt. Why not let that initial draft be the place where the blank page is your friend, your partner on the journey of your characters across the wordscape of their lives?