Friday, 31 July 2009

Facing the empty page

I have got an old copy of the textbook for A215, with the idea that, for once, I will be weeks ahead on the course. I will therefore send in all my TMA's early. I always think this is going to happen, but I'm ignoring the fact that I am royally behind on the OCA course. In fact, I have a year's extension and I'm still struggling to get the work in!

There's a reason. Faced with an empty page I do what most people do, I hesitate. I look at my inky boots and the sheet of snowy perfection in front of and can't bear to despoil its blank loveliness. So I read the first few pages of A215 wisdom and The Book says other people do this - and have strategies to deal with it.

So, I did a cluster thingy (Gabriele Lusser Rico came up with this idea in "Writing the Natural Way, 1983) for 'empty page' and came up with some nice ideas. Despoil was one of the words that came up, in fact (see above). Others that came up several times were 'fail', 'mess', 'untidy' and 'distraction'. 'Lunch' also popped up more than once. 'Crap' made an appearance. I am afraid of the empty page. 'Fear' and 'fail' cropped up the most. Writing makes me feel exposed and vulnerable. But when I think that criticism will make me feel like I have failed, I start to doubt it. I don't fear other people's criticism as much as I dread my own. In psychological terms, like all of us, I internalised messages about failure and success - none of which seem very relevant to the creative process. Paper was expensive when I was a child, I now hoard it, I can't pass up a bargain. I take paper everywhere with me, on holiday, in my bag to the supermarket, even in the car. This makes no sense, I feel sick thirty seconds after trying to read anything in a moving vehicle. I must believe that anything I do to the empty page must be worse than just enjoying it's white lovely blankness.

So, I write better on the computer. That explains that. But I think conquering the page with nasty, messy, rainbow pens, will be very freeing and therapeutic. The Book suggests getting into a writing habit. (Last time I had one of these I wrote a novel in 3 months, so The Book may be onto something). So, I pledge that I will write 500 words every single day, even if it is complete rubbish, and I will despoil at least one perfect, beautiful shiny piece of paper doing it. Let's see how long it lasts.

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