It’s kind of cliché to talk about the horrors of “staring at the blank page,” or as is more likely the case in our tech-driven world, “the white screen.” But honestly, I think there are multiple ways to look at the blank screen, kind of in line with the old question of whether the glass is half full or half empty. Following the cliché, you can consider the empty page frightening, intimidating, and a reminder of how far there is to go.
Or, you can consider it an opportunity. It’s the start of a new journey, a true adventure, and you might have NO IDEA where it will take you: I certainly don’t when I start on a new project, and sometimes even when I start a new scene I’m clueless. How exciting is that? Really, it’s something wonderful when you stop to consider how far you can travel just with your pen in hand (or your hands on the keyboard.) The blank page doesn’t have to stare you down in a mean way. Let it be a welcoming glance with a smile in its eyes. Let it be inviting, because it should be! Honestly, I’ve always felt that if you’ve gotten your thoughts together enough that you’re ready to stare down the blank page, that’s a HUGE part of the battle. You have to develop a concept for a story before you can start writing, and that’s not easy. So, remember, you’re already a winner when you’re staring at that blinking cursor on the computer screen. You’ve conquered the void of swirling and unformed ideas, and after that, the concrete nature of the white page needn’t be so intimidating.
I remember when I started writing “The Crimson League” on vacation at my aunt’s house. I’d brought a notebook to write in, but I didn’t really know what project to start. I’d had a vague idea for a fantasy novel for years, based on a dream I had my freshman year of college. I don’t remember the dream at all, oddly enough, only the ideas it inspired. Back then I came up with some character names and the idea of a resistance group against a dictator with magical powers. I started writing about people from our time and place who got transported by some kind of dimensional warp into my fantasy world, and then stalled. That wasn’t the story I needed. I just didn’t know what was.
Lying in bed three years later, I came up with the idea for a heroine who was from the fantasy world I had created, not my world. I immediately came up with the perfect name for her: Kora. From the Spanish “corazón” for “heart.” And I started writing that day what was truly a journey: I didn’t worry about what lay beyond one step ahead. I didn’t think about how much further there was to go, or how dang WHITE the page was. I just progressed day by day, scene by scene. Now I have a trilogy written, with the second installment set to release in November and the first one free today for all. And it all started with a white page.