Face it. There are few things as intimidating as the blinding white of a blank page.
It makes no difference if it’s an empty sheet lying on our desk, or a blank screen, aiming between our eyes. Defeating “nothing” by subjecting it to “something” with our words is what gives a writer breath.
Whether to pay our bills or please our muse, eventually words must spill. Here are ten tips to help plow past writing insecurity.
1. Appreciate your unique perspective.
No one sees the world exactly like you, and no one can articulate it in quite the same way. The oldest stories are told and then retold, not because they invent new things to say, but because inside a timeless message, each storyteller may weave a million individual moments.
2. Writing is conversation.
The more we speak, the more we understand the fundamentals. Writing is no different. Most of the time, our brains operate on the surface, doing only what must be done. We may adopt the push and pull of conversation to push our voice further. Writing, much like a good discussion, can help us dig a little deeper.
3. Allow your influences to shape your voice, not drown it.
Creativity is borrowed. None of us formed our thoughts in a vacuum, and all of us were subject to a myriad of different models. Inspiration lives inside us, and our subconscious never forgets. We need not copy our heroes, their hand is always there to guide us.
You can do it! Fear is a set of handcuffs, keeping our fingers from flight. If you don’t believe in yourself, then no one else will either.
5. Ignore the rules.
Rules can be intimidating; intimidation a shortcut to insecurity. You may not know precisely when to use a comma and when to use parentheses, but that decision will never equal the importance of a good idea. We first need broad strokes to lend foundation. We wash our world in red, blue, yellow, and green. Chartreuse and vermillion come later.
6. Write for someone specific.
Nothing will crystallize your voice, like scribbling for a single set of eyes. It doesn’t matter who it is, and it doesn’t have to be the same person twice. Write as though you are speaking to them. Design your jokes to make them smile, your words to feel them near.
7. Write without pause, return later.
Alone with our thoughts, it is easy to think the worst, but we should never allow them to slow us down. When our inner whisper begins to shout, we must lower our nose and keep on going. Once drained, leave. Return later, and you’ll likely be surprised at what you’ve written.
8. Take pride.
Our words are simply a more permanent version of our thought. Be proud of who you are, and know that what you write is a reflection of you.
9. Even Stephen King writes with his door closed.
No one gets it right the first time through. Just start. Even if the world will be watching once you are finished, no one is watching you now. Close the door, breathe the silence, and let what’s inside you come out to play.
10. Dip your toe, then jump… the water’s fine.
The first keystroke is always the hardest, but begetting something from nothing is what separates us from the lower species (well, that and opposable thumbs). Pushing past our fear and into uncertainty, is when we’re most likely to find ourselves.