How To Not Be Intimidated By The First (or Blank) Page Ever Again

Have you ever perused a gallery of half finished art? How about watched an unedited movie? Bought a book that has no ending?

Of course not. All of those things would be a waste of time. But this is what we do with our books. When we start, we think they are already on display and worry over every word.

We fret over the first line as if once it’s typed it’ll cure and we can never change it again. And then our book dies because of unfair expectation. But does it have to be like this?

Photo Credit: zetson via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: zetson via Compfight cc

Perfection on the first try is a myth. Or if it is perfect the first time it’s because the individual put in constant hours of play and practice out of the public eye. They tested new methods or perfected one and seemingly burst onto the scene.

But our pages, as well as a lump of clay or canvas, are places to grow and learn. They are what software developers call a sandbox. A place to test. A place to see what happens.

While it’s easier said than done to separate ourselves from our work like a software developer does, we’re doing the same thing and just need to change our mindset.

When you say to yourself that you’re creating a piece of art the pressure to be prefect shoots through the roof. What if you just call it a project or a product? Will this make your work cliché or a business rather than an expression of who you are?

I say do whatever you have to do to keep going. I trick myself all of the time to see where my latest project will go.

Put it this way, if you are backpacking across the Appalachian Trail mile marker one is not the place to gauge whether or not you are a professional hiker. If you stop there, you’d miss the bad weather and a possible bear encounter, sure, but also the views, other people who can share in your journey, and the joy of the distant finish.

So writer, don’t put too much pressure on yourself at the beginning. Writing is hard work as it is. Before you struggle to perfect the backstroke, there came the thrill and joy of just swimming. So just jump in and enjoy it.

The Hardest Part Of Writing A Novel

More and more authors are expected to do more for their books. Promote themselves, creating networks and audiences before they publish, and of course, do some significant editing.

Editing, more commonly know as revising, is my arch nemesis. It’s the nasty reality of writing, the rude awakening that says, “you know how you slaved over your novel for the last few years to produce this draft? Yeah, you aren’t even close to being done”. Then it howls in laughter.

Okay, maybe it’s not that dramatic, but you get the idea. You finish your novel thinking you’ve done your best to have commas in the right place, eliminate the passive voice, and destroy the repetitive use of words. But, as you open the word document and begin reading you will probably do what I did when I started to read my finished draft. Groan. Sigh. Then let you head slowly fall until its rested on the desk in the realization that more work is ahead.

Now maybe you thought of it, but I didn’t. Revising, I believe, is the hardest work, work that causes you to dig even deeper into your self than a novel does.

Since I know only bits about the editing process, I do know it can be more of a refining period and much more than simply tweaking grammar. Therefore I wanted to pass on this video about refining your work and tips from a very good blog WritingIsHardWork.