How to Conquer "Blank Page Syndrome"


The dreaded blank page.

And the endless procrastination tricks that keep you from it: Pavlovian “get mail” button pushes, Twitter refreshes, and RSS feed checks.

(Admission: I was secretly glad I had a cold this week. It gave me an excuse to get up from my work every 10 minutes and go get a tissue to blow my nose).

Oh how I hate the blank page. And oh how I love it.

The drama of it all.

But here’s the deal with all this avoidance of the blank page: Chances are, you’re not procrastinating, you’re “marinating.”

I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I still have a hard time believing this, but it’s true.

Here’s why.

Assuming you’ve done all the background prep for a writing product—interviews, reading, research, etc.—the time that you spend avoiding the blank page is time that your brain is using to figure out what’s important, why it’s important, what the problem is that needs to be solved, and how you want to say what you decide needs to be said (or the “voice”).

It really is amazing: If you’ve done your due diligence, if you’re excited and interested about what you’re working on, and if you’ve let your smart little brain work on this without you even noticing, when you get to the blank page, it’s going to be shockingly easy to get the right stuff down.

Of course, you can't stop here. You'll need to let it "marinate" again after you get that first draft banged out so you can dig back in and revise the hell out of it until it's good.

But you'll be long over your Blank Page Syndrome by then, so go ahead. Check your email. Write a witty tweet. Blow your nose. It's all right.