The Dreaded Blank Page

Two weeks ago, I started a brand new book. I planned it all out on post-it notes scattered about my writing room and I couldn’t wait to begin. Well obviously I had to make a cup of tea first. Then I switched on the computer, hit new page and my fingers hovered over the keyboard. And they did nothing! I sat staring at the blank piece of paper, wondering when the words were going to pour out of me. They didn’t.images-1I went on Twitter and Facebook before returning to my blank page. I tried again. Still nothing. The white page seemed to taunt me. I tried writing various opening lines but I couldn’t seem to manage a complete sentence. Now in the past, I have written so many opening chapters knowing full well that I’m going to rewrite them when I start editing. But for some reason, I couldn’t even write a rubbish one. My fingers and brain were on strike.

I glared at my computer and thought about throwing it out the window. I took my dog for a walk before glaring at my computer again. I made myself another cup of tea, read the news, went on You Tube, went on social media again.

Then I had a brainwave.

At the top of the evil white page, I typed, Chapter Three. Suddenly my fingers flew over the keyboard. It was almost as if they had a mind of their own, as sentence after sentence filled the screen. And reading them back later that day, I thought I might actually keep some of them.

And so to anybody out there – when given a blank piece of paper at school or at home and you have no idea what to write – perhaps you could start your story at chapter three. Or chapter four or maybe even start with the end. I know of a few authors who don’t write in sequence at all. They might write chapter four, then two, then eight, before going back and filling the gaps.

It felt liberating not starting with the beginning, a bit like starting a jigsaw with the middle pieces instead of the edges. Hey – I’m a rebel at heart! ; )images-5




8 thoughts on “The Dreaded Blank Page

  1. Good tip! After all, how often does chapter one even end up chapter one in the final version? And there are lots of ways of writing, as you say. It’s whatever works for the writer.

  2. Hi Tam! =D

    I have to write from Chapter one, otherwise I loose the whole story if I don’t keep spoilers at bay, all though, if it works for you, I might try it on my new story idea I just thought of, and it sounds, Roar! 🙂

    See you on Twitter! 🙂

    • It worked for me on this occasion but I guess every writer and every story is different. Do let me know how you get on. I love the fact that your next story sounds ROAR! How exciting!

  3. Brilliant idea. Anything that staves off blank page nerves is useful – and as Emma says above, often Chapter 1 in the first draft is not Chapter 1 in the final version. Though I do love a good opening line and it’s heaven when you find one!

    • Thank you! And I agree entirely about opening lines – heaven when you get a good one. I often feel as though mine comes to me from some strange magical place. I can never force it.

  4. I couldn’t help but chuckle when I read this because just before I turned one of my novels over for publication a few years ago, I was sitting, thinking about its opening chapter, and I thought, boy, I need the stuff from chapter three in there. As soon as the thought hit me, I realized that I really did need chapter three to be chapter one. So I made the switch. Actually, the exchange cost me 12 days of action, for which I had to insert one little flashback scene, but it was worth all the work. So it could be that chapter three will actually make you a great beginning after all.

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