How To Overcome The Blank Page

How To Overcome The Blank Page

Whether you are actually staring at a blank page or not is irrelevant. Telling a story is difficult. Pulling something out of thin air and forcing it into existence requires tremendous focus and energy. The fact that you have taken a few minutes out of your busy day to try to figure out how to become better is a big step. You should feel good about yourself. Over the next few minutes, I will share a little of my creative process with you. Hopefully, it will inspire you to keep moving forward and to flesh out the unique ideas that only you can express.

I have always been interested in telling visual stories. Whether through movies, Youtube videos or books, I always want my stories to leap off the proverbial page and make an indelible impact on my intended audience. The problem is that stories do not leap from pages on their own. They are rarely launched from flashes of inspiration. A storyteller has to bring them to life. Often, the best stories only come into existence when the storyteller personally experiences something worth sharing with the world. Like many of you, I used to try to tell stories about things I knew very little about and then got frustrated that I couldn’t find anything to say.┬áIt made no more sense than trying to draw water from an empty well and getting mad that you’re still thirsty after hours of repeatedly lowering and raising the bucket. But that is what I did for such a long time.

A blank page does not represent a void in your mind, but a void in your life.

So my first piece of advice is go on an adventure. Take a day trip somewhere you’ve never been. Go to the library and read a different genre. Binge watch movies on Netflix. Call up the most interesting person in your circle and go have coffee with them… and live vicariously through them for a little while. You have to learn to recognize when your creative tank is on empty and then find ways to rejuvenate your creative spark.

The next piece of advice I would give is to not be afraid to borrow inspiration. You do not always need to pull ideas out of thin air. In fact, thinking that you are the last air-bender could be extremely dangerous for your creative aspirations. Just ask M. Night Shyamalan! That movie almost derailed his entire moviemaking career. For almost every project I try to spend some time hunting around on Unsplash.com for photos that set the right tone in my mind. On Twitter, I follow National Geographic, because they have some of the most visual stunning photos on the planet. I like to find a picture that represents what a character might actually look like. Photos of various locations that my characters could interact in. By borrowing this information, I do not have to build every single detail of a story – the plot, the characters, the wardrobe, the locations, the set dressing, etc. etc. etc. – in my mind. It would be like going to a store in the mall and having to hand-make the store’s entire line of clothing before you could try anything on. That would be absurd, and anyone in their right mind would refuse to do business with that store.

Storytelling should be fun… and satisfying… and liberating… and _______________(fill in the blank).

You have something to say. You may not know what it is yet, but you do. You may need to go on a journey of discovery before you will have the vocabulary to express it. Or you may need to borrow a little of someone else’s mojo to jumpstart your creative engine. But the blank page is not your enemy… it is your trampoline. And it is waiting.

 

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