Of writing and blank pages, an essay by Stephen Wholesome

OF WRITING AND BLANK PAGES

Prologue

There must be 

a blank page

for there to be 

a writing.

The Reception

The reception is about to begin. As a friend of the couple, you have no trouble gaining entrance into the hall.

That’s trouble for whoever doesn’t have an IV. 

Old friends are around, school mates you’ve not seen for about five years.

A table has been made, surrounded by chairs in a circular form. The chairs are comfortable to sit on. The table is covered with a well-designed garment full of rose. Somewhere at the center of it there’s an inscription, ‘couple’s friends.’ 

The chitchat begins immediately. The couple are your friends and you and other friends have come to celebrate them. The couple is still outside though, so people are getting themselves busy with the food on their tables. 

But instead of doing the same, you get yourself busy with your friends, talking and having fun, remembering the old days and how quickly the times have passed. 

Once in a while you look around. Then you get back into the talk. You wish to reduce talking and get busy with eating too, like every other people in the hall. But one thing is stopping you.

Your table is empty.

Sadly, that’s not exactly where you are, because it would’ve been better. At least, sooner or later the food will get to you if the servers don’t mean to intentionally isolate you. 

That’s where your imagination is. 

The Blank Page

Currently, where you are is at the front of your personal computer in your apartment with a blank page of Microsoft Word staring at you. Your hands are fixed on the keyboard but they’re not moving. You want your fingers to start typing but they’re not bulging. 

You know it’s time to write and you know what you want to write, but you don’t know how to begin. There’s no idea at all. Just as the page before you and the reception table, your mind is blank and it’s like you’re young again. 

Tabula rasa. 

But one thing is complicating things. Instead of thinking about what to write and how to begin your work for the day, your mind starts racing about. You try to call it back but it won’t answer. 

The first thing that comes to your mind is the dream you had last night. You can’t imagine why you’re just remembering it now. You tried to remember it when you woke up but it wouldn’t come. All you knew was that you had a dream. Now the whole movie comes rushing back and you’re in no way able to stop the flood.

The next thing you think about is your spoilt shoe. The one you love so much that you’ve worn it always even though you had others. Now the left foot is spoilt beyond repair and it’s not like you can wear the right foot alone. Why you’re thinking about it when you’re supposed to be writing, you can’t explain!

Then you think about your bills, running a mental breakdown of your budget for the month and assuring yourself you have to save money this month. 

It’s an hour already and you’re still struggling between calling your mind to order and writing.

Write Anyway 

Here’s my wholesome advice. When next this happens, don’t give the damn blank page the power to ruin your precious time with unproductive thoughts and anxieties. 

Write anyway!

When I say write anyway, I mean write anything that comes to your mind at that time. It’ll jolt your creativity to life. 

You can even write about the dream you just remembered. You can write about your unrepairable shoe. Or better still, you can write about the last wedding you attended. The one you spent your last cash and all your energy for the day on but came back home without tasting anything. 

And you don’t even have to write any of those. But by all means, write something. Trivial or important, write something. Relevant to your work in progress or not, write something. 

I tell you. It will jolt your brain into life.  

The reason you find it difficult to write something on a blank page is not far-fetched. It’s that voice called perfection. 

It wants you to start perfectly and end perfectly. It gives no room for first drafts. It doesn’t understand what it means to struggle with the words before you get your footing. It just wants the cake baked, with all the icing and the flavors, at once.

It’s now your turn to speak to that voice to leave you alone. If you’ve been experiencing the blank page phenomena more often, then it’s time to scream to its hearing, ‘No more!’

Just as you cannot sit down with a table of empty plates served before you, never sit down passively with a blank page before you except you’re getting ready to write immediately. 

It Doesn’t Have to Make Sense

That means you’ve got to master the art of writing something every time you set down to write, whether it makes sense or not.

If it makes sense, then you’re on the right track. Keep writing.

If it makes no sense, then there’s no need to worry. While writing what seems to make no sense, you’re stirring the waters of your mind to respond to your beckon for ideas. It won’t take long before it leads you to the road you’re supposed to be.

If it doesn’t work out, at least, you’ll be satisfied that you wrote something for the day. It might not be worth showing to anyone. It mightn’t be worth publishing on social media. But it’s worth your time, because you wrote when you needed to write. 

And that’s all that matters.

It matters because you’ll come back tomorrow and write again. And the more you do that, the more your mind learns to respond to your request for content creation.

Of course. That’s not a promise that you’ll never experience a blank mind before a blank page again. You’ll always do as long as you write. 

But you’ll know how to fill the page when next it’s blank, whether with what you desire to write or what your mind desires to pour down for you in your absence.  

Now that your table has been served with all the delicacies you’ve been seeing around, what are you waiting for? The food is yours.

Get ready and start eating. 

Then in the next piece, I’ll tell you how to deal with that subtle voice called perfectionism.

Will you be here to read it?

Epilogue

There must be a writing

for there to be a book

and for an audience

to emerge.

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