Beginning any project can prove a fearful experience for many; a perilous precipice of white expanse where no words dare to fall. Toes curl, hair bristles on the back of necks and fingers pause over keys. They envy those who freefall into the abyss and dream of the day when chapters gush onto the page in a vomit of inspiration. Yes, writing is a messy craft for some.
I recently wrote a blog on keeping a writing ‘log’ after experiencing insecurities over the little time I thought I was spending on my craft. It turned out these insecurities were unfounded and other areas of my life had only appeared to have consumed my writing time. Quite often doubts and insecurities arise when we are confronted with what our own psyche views as a mammoth task.
Starting a new novel, entirely undrafted or plotted in any way except for a title had shaken my confidence. The ‘Blank Page Syndrome’ had crept in while I had been busy with daily work and family routines, to undermine my ability to even begin! Goodness, it had even cast doubts on whether I was doing any writing at all, about anything.
A few weeks into the log settled those initial doubts. Then it was time to get to work on the fear of that vacant page. Where did I begin? I read books, lots of books, all factual research on various topics relating to the novel I hoped to write. As I made notes on Druidry, equine history, Autism and the movement of Celtic peoples after the departure of the Roman Empire from Britain, visions emerged. My vacant page contained words, not of a story per se, but of scenarios.
Finding the roots of your story is one way to chase away the Blank Page Syndrome. Once you set down roots, it is hard to be uprooted as the trunk expands, branches spread and leaves grow with your ideas. Soon these disparate scenarios contain characters, or at the very least names or titles of the protagonists. They may not have faces or hair colour, but they are saying things and moving around a landscape that is slowly emerging, like a watercolour filtering over paper.
Soon you discover you are linking these scenarios together and forming a jigsaw with them, slotting in new ideas or moving them around. External factors or other characters appear to tip the delicately balanced plot, sometimes even before it has completely formed and you find the story spiralling into unknown, unplanned pastures.
You have the beginnings of a book!
- Have you ever suffered with the blank page syndrome? If so, how have you dealt with it?
- Are you a tight plotter, loose pantster or a little of both?
- If you have an idea do you stall it and pause to assess if it will be detrimental to the original plot, or run with it and see where it will lead?
- Do you throw out an idea if it doesn’t fit within the strict confines of the perfect story arc you created, or allow it to alter your story?
Writing as ‘E S Moxon’, Elaine's debut historical fiction adventure ‘WULFSUNA’ was published January 21st, 2015 and is the first in her Wolf Spear Saga series. She is currently writing her second novel, set once again in the Dark Ages of 5th Century Britain, where the legendary Saga ensures a Seer and one named 'Wolf Spear' are destined to meet. You can find out more about Elaine’s novels on her website or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.
Elaine lives in the Midlands with her family and their chocolate Labrador.
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Blood, betrayal and brotherhood.
An ancient saga is weaving their destiny.
A treacherous rival threatens their fate.
A Seer's magic may be all that can save them.