Fighting The Blank Page

I’ve known all week that I have a blog coming up. I’ve spent more free time than I probably should trying to come up with something to talk about it.

Now, it’s Friday afternoon. My blog is set to run in Saturday’s paper — one day later than originally scheduled due to an overflow of obituaries earlier in the week — and it’s the 11th hour. Still, I’ve got nothing.

Sure, there are things I COULD write about, but most of the things bumbling through my mind seem either way too personal to share in a public forum or too mundane for anyone to really care about. This isn’t the first time it’s happened. Typically, I fall back on writing about sports. It’s something I’m passionate about and can usually find plenty of fodder to discuss.

The thing is, I don’t like always writing about sports in my blog. (Yes, I know it’s titled “Sports Hack,” but still.) I write about sports all the time and my blog is often a chance for me to step outside that box and share insight into something else.

There’s a simple term for all of this that I’m sure most of you are familiar with: writer’s block. It’s a concept that might sound harmless enough to most, but for someone like me who writes for a living, it’s about the most frustrating feeling there is. I mean, using creativity and turning a phrase is supposed to be what I’m good at; it’s my thing.

It’s often when I’m dealing with a bout of this when I write what I’ve come to fondly refer to as a “throw-away blog,” something I’ve written for the sake of writing. It appears in my rambling that we’re heading down that road right now.

But here’s where things start to get a little more personal and hopefully transition into more than just a “throw-away blog.” There are very few things that disgust me more than writing something with which I’m not happy, and each time I publish one of these “throw-away blogs” I think I die a little inside. (OK, it’s probably not THAT bad, but you get my point.)

As a species, I think humans are a prideful lot. Sure people have issues with self-esteem, self-worth, insecurities, etc.— we’re all guilty at times — but for all of us there is something we take pride in. For some it’s maybe something as simple as keeping a clean home or desk at work, for others it can be our work or our relationships. (You know, the important, adult-y stuff?)

For me, writer’s block is right up there on my list of things that drive me mad with insecurity. I stare at the blank page on my screen and it looks back, mocking me and daring me to mark it up with something worthwhile. The longer this back-and-forth lasts, the less satisfied I am every time I drop a few words onto the page. Quickly, the “Backspace” on my keyboard has double-crossed me and only seems join in the blank page’s pleasure in frustrating me.

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Eventually I reach a point where I just start typing and let the words flow where they may; blank page be damned. Sometimes this results in something much better than what I’d anticipated setting out. Sometimes I never want to look at the piece again. It’s the risk we take when facing our insecurities, no matter how big or small.

The truth is, this blog is far from the best thing I’ve ever written. I might read back through it and even consider it a “throw-away blog.” But, at the end of the day, I consider it a victory. The self-doubt in my ability to be creative has turned into more than 600 words of something that could actually be considered worthwhile by some.

Pride is something we often look down upon. (Especially here in the ever-humble, passive-aggressive capital of the universe, Minnesota.) But I take pride in my writing and it’s because of that I’m able to ignore the bullying of the blank page. Getting over an insecurity can be hard, but without a leap of faith, the blank page wins.

Don’t let the blank page win.

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