The black, blinking cursor on the blank, white screen must have a magical effect on the brain somehow. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been walking, driving or in the shower and had 101 absolutely brilliant ideas about what to write about, only to sit down in front of my screen and forget every single one of them.
I know I’m not the only one either because I’ve heard the same scenario from every author client I’ve ever worked with over the years — and it didn’t matter if it was their first book or third book or any other book, blog post, or email.
Writer’s block happens.
New authors come to it wondering how long it’ll be before the magical, black, blinking cursor loses its power to erase the mind. They think there is something wrong with themselves.
Seasoned authors have learned it will never go away, we’ve just learned a few little magic tricks to combat its evil spells.
Next time that quarter-inch mini-wand on your screen starts wiping away your creativity, here are a few things you can do:
- First, check in with yourself. In my experience, 90% of being an author is the internal, mental-emotional game, not the words on the page. I’ve found that the vast majority of the time, the sudden blankness is actually a symptom of a fear you’re feeling and need to take some time to address.
When I look at F.E.A.R., I think of it as Friendly Energy Awaiting Recognition. Typically, it’s some part of us that loves us enough to protect us and keep us safe but doesn’t know any other way of getting our attention other than scaring the crap out of us (like parents yelling at a toddler heading toward the street).
When we stop and address the fear, take a few moments to do something that makes us feels safe again, our minds open back up.
2. Carry a notebook or your phone with you EVERYwhere to take notes and help you remember your thoughts for later. It can be a lifesaver! Just don’t get it wet if you’re in the shower…
3. Just start. Sometimes, the brilliant idea is there but we don’t know how to start. After all, our random thoughts while we’re walking, driving or in the shower don’t really have a beginning, middle or end that’s all neat and tidy. They are glimpses at the heart the thing, but the reader also needs the pathway in. So, just start. Type your name, your address, and whatever other random things come to mind until you’re in the flow of it. Because the real truth is that great writing doesn’t happen while you’re writing; it happens while you’re editing — and you can edit all the random nonsense out later. Just start.
Personally, I’ve come to love the blank, white screen and all its possibilities. It feels like having a blank canvas in front of me onto which I can paint the world, if I choose. I think the biggest mental shift for me was when I decided to give myself permission to write as badly as I could and just get “it” out — whatever it was that that needed to be written.
Even after multiple best-sellers and an award winning book, there are still days when that little mini-wand on my screen can work its magic. The difference these days is that I’ve learned to trust in my ability to overcome it.
And so can you. Self-trust comes with time, practice, and a willingness to keep showing up with patience, commitment and self-love.
How are you showing up to your blank screen today?