White Page Syndrome


Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been writing for years, there’s nothing worse than that ‘white page syndrome’. It hits when you’re about to embark on a brand new start to a brand new story. You’re anxious and unnerved by the sight of a stark blank page. A thousand ideas for a New York Times Bestseller float inside your head but you freeze when you realize you have no clue where to start.

This week I began the first draft for The Rogue’s Revenge (the next book in the Rogue trilogy). It will be my second professional novel and now that The Royal Rogue is out and receiving a positive response, I feel the pressure of exceeding the first novel’s impression.

It makes that first page daunting. However, I found the best way to break through the stalemate between myself and the page was to strip down everything standing between me and my connection with my characters.

Forget Perfection

Fear is stunting. Forget what people think, or how it sounds, or if it’s going to work. Creativity doesn’t flourish when you’re analyzing every word that touches the paper. So write and don’t look back. Close your eyes, picture your character in a setting and let the words fall on the page.

Editing has no place in this phase. To pick apart what you’ve put down already only slows your momentum. Every time you get the itch to turn back and reread, remind yourself that editing comes later. This isn’t your final novel. It’s the blueprint where ideas are batted around and brought into fruition.

Put words on the page. That’s your job. Nothing else. You’ll be surprised what kind of inspiration you find when you’re not worried about what people will think or how it reads.

Create Inspiration

Location, location, location. I can write anything with the right vibe; the right scents; the right level of comfort. Lately a band called fun has been setting the mood for me. Its theatrical alternative with an anthemic sound puts me in that ‘epic adventure’ mentality.

What is yours? Find your muse and immerse yourself in it. Settle into a place with no distractions so that the only window open to you is inspiration. When I’m sitting down to write, my cell phone is on silent and out of sight. Facebook? Not a chance. The only time I pull up my web browser is for research or to access the online Dictionary/Thesaurus.

For some this is not as easy as it should be. If you can’t fight the itch, turn off your wifi on your laptop. Disconnect so that you can connect with the one thing that matters: the page in front of you.

Build a Flexible Structure

This is not a “one size fits all” suggestion. Every writer is different. Some of us need more planning than others. For me, the more details I put into my outline, the more walls I build around the story, and the easier it is for me to hit a road block.

Characters are the heart of my book and no matter how hard I plan, I cannot predict every plot twist they throw my way. The Royal Rogue had so many outlines I lost count. So I learned to keep to the K.I.S.S. method.

Keep it simple:

Who is the protagonist?

Who is the antagonist?

What is the main issue the main character will be forced to combat?

How will he face it?

What is the end result?

That is pretty much the sum of my outline, folks. The rest of the details come as soon as I get behind the eyes and mind of my characters and build off of their own reactions to the scenarios above.

Do I make wrong turns? Absolutely. I still have hundreds of pages of unused material from The Royal Rogue. But that’s part of the writing process. Sometimes you will have to take a step back and try a new approach. That’s okay. You’ll get to wherever you’re going in the end.

Most importantly though…

Have Fun with It

Seriously. If you aren’t enjoying what you’re doing, how do you expect to be inspired? The creative process is supposed to be fun (ha… ha ha… ha ha ha… did anyone else catch the irony that statement?). If you aren’t enjoying yourself, chances are you aren’t going to write anything enjoyable.

So stop stressing and remember why you became a writer in the first place. It might just be the break you needed.

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Are you a writer in need of inspiration? Check out Write the White on WordPress! Sherri is an awesome blogger who posts some great ideas and encouragement for writers.

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2 thoughts on “White Page Syndrome

  1. You are just to sweet to me, Liz!

    I’m finalizing some outline things and characterization tonight before I begin on Nano tomorrow. I’m nervous, worried, and trying to shove all that behind me because of the excitement. Thank you for this wonderful post! It was a good way to remind myself to just write. There questions helped calm me down a little, and the best it yet to come. Keep writing! And thank you for the lovely advertisement!

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