Ifind nothing more intimidating than the blank page.
That big. Blank. Motherfucker. Staring at me.
It taunts me.
“Hey. Wanna write? Well, whatcha gonna write? Fill me. FILL ME.”
Like ideas for brilliant stories just drop out of the air.
Today’s post is about writer’s block, that motherfucker of a blank page, and why giving yourself permission to write crap is the most creative move we can all make.
But first, a story.
I’ve been depressed as hell since moving to LA. Not something I publicize. Not something I hide.
Depression makes the starting block appear like its a mile from the Blanket Fort.
It also means the blank page makes me want to cry. How will I fill the page if I feel like shit and have no desire to write?
I’ve written little that wasn’t to pay my rent since moving seven weeks ago. But that’s changing, thanks to brute force and a simple reminder from a horde of working screenwriters:
Brilliant stories don’t just drop out of the air.
They are birthed, word by word and inch by inch. They’re incubated.
They all begin as not-so-shitty inklings of ideas we’re this close to chucking in the Shitty Idea bin.
Great stories are crafted. Edited. Honed. Parts fall away and better ones take their place.
It takes time to craft a brilliant story.
Which means if brilliant stories are crafted inch by inch and over time, the best thing I can do to slay the starting block and silent that taunting blank page…
Is move an inch.
I’ve blocked a single hour of my morning for VOMIT. Some folks call these Morning Pages. I like VOMIT because I’m not all cutesy and like the messy level of permission VOMIT grants.
I give myself permission to write complete shit.
And there’s one stipulation — I have to write for an hour and it has to have something to do with a project I’m working on. Doesn’t matter if I bounce around between three projects in that hour, but that hour is 100 percent dedicated to writing about something that is remotely related to a writing project in my creative queue.
I’m not talking “pages.” No screenplay pages, no literary pages. This VOMIT time is dedicated to Grade A stream-of-consciousness CRAP that might spin me into something useful. Or not.
But whatever it turns out to be, it lubricates my story gears.
It gets me off the starting block.
It silences the blank page.
And it also helps me get the crap out of my system so I can get to the good stuff.
Giving myself permission to write crap is one of the bravest things I’ve ever done. Having hit “publish” on this blog for 11 years, I won’t lie and say I don’t feel pressure to make everything that lands in your inbox worth your time and well thought-out.
But sometimes we need to wade through the crap to get to the story we didn’t know we wanted to tell. That’s what going back to a daily blog post means for me.
Giving space to lesser thoughts and connecting with everyone else’s lesser thoughts because we all have them.
Not everything is so fucking momentous that it’s going to garner 1000 shares, likes, and loves.
But these tiny thoughts fuel big stories.
I’m learning to let the tiny thoughts flow, no matter how shitty.
And it’s funny — giving myself permission to write crap has made the words that matter come faster than ever.
If only I gave myself that kind of permission in the rest of my life. (another post, another time)
Which brings me to tomorrow’s post: You’re Making Shit Up. Have Fucking Fun.
That’ll bring me to the end of week one of my daily blogging. And yeah, I’m keeping to a M-F schedule. I appreciate you being here. Your hair looks great today. And yeah, have the cookie. You earned it.
See you tomorrow. Thanks for seeing me.
PS: If you like my blog, share it with a friend. Facebook makes it super hard to get eyes on my stuff because even though 30k people have opted into my brand of weird, they want me to PAY to reach them. The kindest thing you can do for a fellow creative is hit the LIKE and SHARE buttons. If you’re getting this in an email, hit forward. I love you for it.