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The Blank Page

How to break through the roadblock of the blank page.

Ernest Hemingway called it "The White Bull."

The blank page.

You start typing, scribbling, then stop and erase. And panic. But it doesn't have to be that way.

Your job is not to fill the page with words. It's to form thoughts worth communicating.

Remember when you had that great experience, the one you couldn't wait to tell your friends? You call them up and the words just start pouring out.

The images, the sensations, the moment you lived… it's alive in your mind. You don't even know what words you're saying. You just can't wait to share it.

THAT'S what good writing feels like. The key is to do your thinking BEFORE you confront the blank page.

Get that momentum going however you need to. For some people, like me, it's about places. If I can see the place, I can put characters in it. Then they come to life.

For others, it's about the people themselves. Specific ways they talk, or move.

What I recommend is to take a few brief notes, nothing more than a list of moments or images in a sequence, then talk it out. Tell the story to a friend, or record it on your phone.

Once those sparks have begun to really flare up, just write them down exactly how you said them. Don't worry about the specific words, or even if they form sentences. Just transcribe them.

And you know what? The page isn't blank anymore. You're off and running. You have something to edit, to rewrite, to build on. The bull is dead.


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