“Don’t let the turkeys get you down,” they say. What if the turkeys are in your brain?
One of the things I had a hard time getting used to when I started my foray into fiction was continuing to write, no matter what came out on the page. It’s a basic technique that established writers mention all the time—just keep writing; getting something down is vital. That’s because you can always go back and revise something terrible to make it better, but it’s impossible to edit a blank page. (“Can you maybe make it a bit… starker?”)
It’s been so long since I was in that write-a-ton-every-day NaNoWriMo groove that I’d kind of forgotten how insidious Blank Page Brain could be. Faced with an entire chapter to be chucked in the bin and begun fresh, though, I remembered right quick. “Duhhh… I dunno,” my brain offered, when I suggested it should write something to take the story from Chapter N to Chapter N+2. We fumbled around together for several pages before declaring it was time to step back and give ourselves a chance to regroup.
“Here!” I suggested optimistically. “I’ve got this short story idea I’ve been sitting on for a while. Why don’t we work on that, instead?”
“Duh, okay,” replied my brain.
But what happened next? You guessed it: another blank page! Sure, it’s a different storyline to pursue, but it’s another start-from-scratch project. So once again, we faced the dreaded Blank Page together. Working on the hypothesis that banging my head against my desk couldn’t possibly make my brain work any less well, and might even stimulate it to come up with something for me to write, as a sort of self defense against being further bashed around in its brain pan, eventually I coaxed enough words out to call my short story a draft. (Unless you count the ending—which, obviously, you should; an ending is vital to any story. So I guess I can’t even call it a full draft. Bugger.)
Somehow, switching between the two pieces, I’ve managed to grind out an initial version of each. I’ve got my Chapter N+1 and my short story, though neither of them is anything to brag about. Except that they’re no longer Blank Pages. And maybe that’s worth a little brag after all:
Hey! Hey, world! I wrote some really crappy stuff that’s not a Blank Page anymore! How do you like them apples?
And for my next trick, I’ll see if I can eliminate most of the Suck.