On Staring Down A Blank Page

I am sitting with a student while she writes so I have a few minutes to write my blog. (She and I will edit her writing once she is finished.) That brings me to the question of what shall I write about tonight? Finding a topic for writing is one of the toughest parts of blogging daily. On a busy day, it’s often no problem since I might have a ready subject to pull from, but sometimes even on those days, I’m not inspired to write about what I’ve done. That’s when I sit and stare at the blank page, which is usually not all that fun.

When I am faced with a blank mind and an empty page, I do what everyone does, I think, “I’m just too tired to do this tonight.” Sometimes, I go back through my past blogs to see if I can find one to repost or I include a recipe from a favorite dish or I do a photo essay with few words. Occasionally, I’ll listen to music and upload YouTube videos to fulfill my 20 minutes a day of writing obligation. It could be argued that I am not actually writing on those days and that is the absolute truth. I tell myself that any blog is better than no blog and, besides, nobody is perfect so reposts, recipes, photos or videos will do just fine. On one level, I am fine with this since these all represent aspects of my personality or interests and my blog is about maintaining a balanced life. Alas, on another level, I have to accept that I am cheating, and that is just the plain truth.

Tonight appears to be the night that I am writing about writer’s block or what I do when I am not feeling inspired. I guess I should add that when faced with this situation, I often simply write about what I see, hear, taste, touch or smell in the room around me. (Taste doesn’t usually apply here, as you may have already determined.) This will serve me well most of the time because just focusing on my immediate surroundings somehow centers my mind and I often stumble upon something that has caught my attention, which will fill up 20 minutes.

On days when I have waited too long to write and I am just worn out, either physically or emotionally, I have to simply throw in the towel and skip writing. I try not to let that happen too often, but sometimes it does just because of how life works. As I said before, nobody’s perfect.

Speaking of perfect, I can’t help but leap right over to perfectionism, which is the killer of all things creative. I have learned that often blog posts that I’ve determined are glaringly imperfect are often the ones that receive a whole host of positive comments and reader “likes,” while others that I think are brilliant fall on deaf ears. I have come to accept that I may have been too busy trying to be brilliant rather than honest. Alas…I live and learn.

My student is now finished. I am going to close.

The bottom line when facing a blank page is to write something even it you think it’s terrible. The physical writing of the words (or adding those reposts, photos, recipes, etc) will let your brain know that you are going to spend 20 minutes on this writing activity no matter what, so it (your brain) might as well stop protesting. That is where discipline comes from, when you have trained your brain to shut up and you get on with the work, no matter what.

On that note, I’ll say good night.

I hope you’ve had a fine day.

I’ll be checking in with you again tomorrow.

writer's block

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