Braving the blank page

Writing fiction doesn’t sound very daring, but clearly it scares the pants off me. Otherwise I wouldn’t try so hard to avoid it.

O, the procrastination. Must straighten house! Must do paperwork! Must go to library! Check email! Prune the petunias! Check email again! Organize thumbtacks!

I am terrified that I have not one creative bone in my body. Why is this so scary? Because I really want to be creative. A good story is my favorite thing, and I want to be able to write one.

Failing at writing fiction scares me so much that I can only bring myself to try it about twice a year. I recognize the absurdity of expecting to be good at something you rarely practice. Yet at the first sign that I am producing tripe instead of insta-literary gold, I run screaming from the keyboard. Because it is better to yearn for something than to prove conclusively that I can’t have it. So you can fully appreciate the depth and richness
of my lunacy, I should say that this has gone on for years.

Finally I sat down and attempted several writing prompts from Writer’s Digest and Fifteen Minutes of Fiction. Here is a sample of my internal dialogue:

Brave me: Maybe I could—

Hypercritical (and sadly more authoritative) me: That sucks!

Brave me: What if—

Hypercritical me: Derivative!

Brave me: I know. I’ll—

Hypercritical me: Boring!

Brave me: Well, maybe—

Hypercritical me: Brainless!

Brave me: But—

Hypercritical me: You’ve got nothing!

Brave (by now somewhat cowed) me: Maybe I’ll try a different exercise.

This is all before my fingers touched the keyboard.

When I finally managed to type something, I doubted every word, every sentence, every potential direction for the story. After 15 minutes on one writing prompt, I abandoned it for another.

After an hour and a half, I gave up. Not sure what is more frightening – trying to write fiction and utterly failing or giving up on the idea entirely. I can’t give it up entirely. Not yet anyway.

I braved the blank page and came up empty. So I did something else today: I added my name to my About page, and I linked this blog to Facebook. At least I think I did. I don’t entirely understand how Facebook works.

Don’t even get me started on Twitter.

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2 Responses to Braving the blank page

  1. blueghoul says:

    As Maureen Johnson’s said, allow yourself to suck. First drafts always do. No matter what. First draft is when you get it all out on the page. Just the idea in the rawest state possible, the crudest, even. And then the following are just to clean it up, make it better. Don’t tell yourself it has to be good–just write. You’ll have time to improve later. You’ve gotta suck first. And then you’ll learn and you’ll get better, I’m sure. And plus, you are your own worst critic. As cliched as all of it sounds, I’ve been exactly where you were, never even trying to brave the novel-writing waters because I felt like I’d always just end up failing, drowning. Well, you’ve gotta take a dip sometime. Hope you figure out something. Wishing you the best of luck!

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