I feel like my work speaks for itself. At this point you have already read two hundred and twenty-eight of my words. Count them if you must, but that’s a good amount of words on a page if you ask me. Enough about my success, here I present you the process.
The Blank Page
Words & Photos / Brian Long
A couple of weeks ago I was asked to write something funny for Crude. Without a thought I answered yes, and even provided my own deadline. These were my first two mistakes. I then learned my third mistake, or what fellas in baseball uniforms would call “strike three,” was forgetting I lack focus. For example, I’ve been writing for about an hour and have written four sentences. I have changed the music six times, made toast, decided I should be wearing a hat and learned how to make Egg Nog. Well, to be honest I only looked up how to make Egg Nog. Now, it's past the deadline and I have finally written the following; where in an article do I mention this is a forward to the article? Nevertheless please enjoy, it’s a quick tutorial to my process and a few anecdotes. Hopefully, it will be enjoyable enough to be seen by more than one other person’s eyes.
When I sit down to write a piece of business I have a few tricks I’ve learned through the years that help me get it done. I would hate to say that these tricks work, but since I picked them up I have been pretty successful at getting words onto pages. I feel like my work speaks for itself. At this point you have already read two hundred and twenty-eight of my words. Count them if you must, but that’s a good amount of words on a page if you ask me. Enough about my success, here I present you the process.
For starters I like to have two things in front of me: a pen and a regular sized piece of paper. Why do I use the term “regular sized”? Great question, in my opinion it helps to have a piece of paper that can hold a good amount of words compared to a piece of paper that can only hold some amount of words. You’ll hear of writers who have done some great work on napkins but that’s not often, and I bet if they had the choice they would have much rather had a regular sized piece of paper. Let's not forget the importance of the pen. There are plenty of options here. Some possibilities are color, name brand, ballpoint or quill? If you let these options give you the anxiety it used to give me you’ll never write a thing. Just grab a blue or black inked pen and keep it simple. My final thought on the pen, don’t use red ink or it will look like you are grading a paper. The last thing you need when trying to create is the ability to personal critique at the same time.
At this point I have the tools I need to get to work, but that’s all they are. I need an idea to put these tools to work and fill the paper. For me that’s not a problem, I have plenty of ideas. For example I could write about a cat that can read minds but not the written word. That idea alone has promise to be the next best movie, book, or graphic novel.
I can see him now reading the mind of a child where he sees that the boy stole a pocketknife from the corner store. The boy always wanted a knife since his big brother has one, but his father told him he was too young. The cat warns the father through some sort of cat telepathy, and nobody gets hurt. Later on the cat looks at the daily news and can't read it, “WHY?” the cat thinks in disappointment of himself. If only he could read the headline stating all cat food was accidentally poisoned. – Now that’s a good start for what I can only assume will be the next classic American story created by, Yours Truly.
So that’s what a wonderful example of what a blockbuster of an idea looks like. If you put your mind to it, you too can soon be on the front lines of creative writing. At this point we've covered the tools and the imagination. I have one last tidbit to provide you dear reader. Do not let the blank page discourage you. It's regular sized and it's empty, but there are things you can do to battle this opponent of nothing and I have a few favorite options. The first good way to fill space is to write your name on the page, I like to place it on the top right like I did back in school. You don’t even need to worry about an idea at this point because you know your own name, and hopefully by now you can spell it. Also, I like to write in all capitals and in extra big letters. If you write big you can count on the page getting real full, real fast. Nothing is more intimidating to a blank page than big words.
Finally my third great defense against an empty page is putting an inspiring quote at the top of the page to get your mind right. A great example I use to inspire and get myself writing is “WRITE SOMETHING YOU IDIOT, TIME'S RUNNING OUT!” There’s nothing quite like the fear of a deadline, and that fear will strongly combat the fear of the wordless page.
Well there it is, my process and all its glory. I encourage you to go and try out a few of my tricks of the trade. I look forward to hearing about some of the ideas you all come up with. Here is my final tip, as fun as it seems to take credit for other’s great writing, don’t do it. For a while I tried to say I wrote Harry Potter, and the truth is I did not. I’m glad that terrible lie is off my chest. It’s an awful burden living with a lie. Now go be creative, use your pens, find a new world inside your mind and write it down on a regular sized piece of paper!