Combating The Blank Screen

You ever have that experience when you’re all set to put some words on paper (or, in this day in age, on the screen) and you find yourself staring at the mouse cursor, watching it flash repeatedly? Yeah, I know, it’s a silly question, but I know it’s something that can antagonize writers, even the best ones.

It’s an even bigger pain when you write for a living and have deadlines to adhere to. Most editors in professions such as journalism don’t have time to wait for your thoughts to fully form. They want that copy ASAP.

I’ve been here several times, even when I was writing stories I had a firm grasp on. If you have the time, you can craft outlines or create charts to help you organize your thoughts better. But if you’re in a crunch, the solution is simple, at least in theory.

Start writing

I’m serious. Even if the words are sluggish, get them out of your head. As more text appears on the screen, the mental barrier of staring down a white screen with a blinking mouse cursor will no longer be an issue.

It’s similar to a football team that receives the ball within their own 10-yard line. They have 90 yards to go and 11 other guys trying to keep them from their goal. It’s daunting at first, but once they make progress and start picking up yards, the goal inches closer.

Want a non-sports-related example? It’s like landscaping a yard, something I don’t have much expertise in, but hear me out. At first, you have an open yard (like a blank canvas) and you have a hard time visualizing the desired outcome. But once you start tackling each task, the work becomes contagious and you find yourself pushing through the mental barrier until you have a yard you can be proud of.

Again, don’t worry about the quality of the writing, at least not right away. An old rule of thumb is to write fast and edit slow. That’s the beauty of modern technology. You can write whatever you want in a Word document and then go back and sift through it, remove the parts you dislike and revising the ones that need work.

That’s how I wrote this blog post. I had the concept, but wasn’t sure how to start writing. So, I started writing, and went back and made the necessary changes. Now, as I review this post before publishing it, I can breathe easier, because I’m looking at a wall of text and not an empty page.


Are there any ways that you push through to get your thoughts down on paper?

Share with us below!