Blank Page Angst

a bad day in front of the computer

a bad day in front of the computer

When I was at the Banff playRites Colony, a very well-known Canadian playwright (who shall remain unnamed) confessed at the beginning of a session on the writer’s process that he always had a glass of red wine before sitting down to write.  Otherwise he was unable to face the blank screen.  (I dared not ask him what time of day he started this ritual, but perhaps this is an unexplored reason why so many writers seem to drink.)  Victor Hugo meanwhile is famous for – among other things – only being able to face a blank page by having himself locked naked into a room with only a desk, a chair and writing implements.  The lack of clothes was to prevent him from going out the window.  It seems to have worked.  Personally, I am very adept at self-deception:  “I’ll just transcribe some of these notes” or “I’ll just edit the last few pages.  I won’t draft anything new.”  It’s amazing how I manage to deceive myself.  Practically every time.  You would think the writing part of my brain would have caught onto the lying part, but so far so good.  But I also wonder why the blank page remains so intimidating.  I mean, I like writing … once I get myself to sit down to do it.

Happy New Year!

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