I’ve been thinking about the kind of stories I could write for a while now. Ideas have definitely been brewing, be they in the form of concepts, characters or even images, but so far, that’s all they’ve been. Ideas.
I’ve scribbled them down and have been carefully mulling over the basics, getting flashes of inspiration every now and then, all of them written in my brand new notebook (which I just had to get before I could start taking this writing lark seriously again), but they’ve yet to take any real shape.
Essentially, I’ve yet to properly put pen to paper (or the digital equivalent). I haven’t written anything that could be even marginally construed as a narrative; nothing fiction-related in the slightest. Basically, I’m scared, and it’s this fear that’s holding me back.
It’s the fear of not being good enough – of writing rubbish, of not being creative enough to qualify as a true writer, of not even knowing what to write, how to write or where to start. The fear of the blank page.
It can be a crippling, debilitating fear, I’ve found. It can completely immobilise a writer and prevent them from putting even a single word on the page, so every idea remains locked away. It can prevent a writer from becoming a writer.
And it’s starting to annoy me. Considering the fact that I face the blank page several times a day in my role as a financial journalist, it’s something that I really should have grown out of by now. If I was completely paralysed with fear every single time I had to write a new piece, I’d never get any work done whatsoever and would quickly find that I become a *former* financial journalist.
But this isn’t journalism. It isn’t work and it isn’t something I’m getting paid for. It’s an entirely different way of writing, and it has an entirely different set of motivations.
It’s writing from my own ideas, my own thoughts; not from a press release or research findings. I don’t have anything solid or tangible to build my narrative around. And I don’t have any real need to write – from an external point of view at least – other than that I need to write.
I think that it’s precisely because it’s so different that it’s so terrifying. As it stands, everything about this new phase of writing is entirely theoretical. All I have is a basic idea (or two) about what I want to create. There are no well-rounded characters and there’s no clear, defining story arc for me to build on.
But the fear can’t paralyse me forever. I may not have anything to work with yet, but if I don’t start, that’ll never change, and I’ll forever be a writer of fiction in theory rather than one in practice. So, I’ve come up with a few key things that I’m going to put in motion to try and face my fear:
- Write anything. Even if it’s terrible. At least then there’ll be something that I can work with and improve on – everyone’s got to start somewhere.
- Don’t be afraid of writing rubbish. An addendum to the above, but important nonetheless.
- Start with a title. Even writing a few words on a page can make it seem less daunting – it isn’t blank anymore, after all. Case in point: I had no idea what I was going to write in this blog post, and almost didn’t start it at all, until I wrote the title on a fresh document. It’s amazing how writing a few words can spur you on to write more – it’s made me realise that it’s possible to build something from nothing.
- Have a different mindset. Rather than thinking of it as a blank page (which, as we’ve established, is a terrifying concept), why not think of it as a clean slate? A fresh start? A chance to create something new and exciting? It shall no longer be a blank page – instead, it shall be a new, exciting opportunity that’s waiting to be explored.
So, that’s the plan at least. Feel the fear and write anyway. Let’s see how this pans out.