The Blank Sheet of Paper

I'm sitting here staring at the blank "sheet" of paper on my Word Pro. I want to write something, but haven't a clue what, at the moment. Something I learned a long time ago is to simply write and not worry about what. So that's what I'm doing. Writing about not being able to write.

It makes no sense. Why should I want to write and then when I sit down to do so, I can't seem to do it? Why do I want to write when I'm not sure what I want to write.?

I have friends who seem to be able to write with hardly a thought about it. They get an idea and just follow it through and "Voila!" It's done. A story has been completed and then they're on to the next one.

I wonder if any of them ever agonizes over where to begin, how to continue, when to end. I don't think so. I wish I didn't. Maybe I'd get more done if I didn't.

Having finally written a very long short story (almost a novella, I think), I have learned that I need to make rather detailed outlines of my stories before I can write them. I have so many ideas in my files, so I have a place to start.

Now that I'm working on a second story, I'm discovering that the outline is going to be the hardest part! With the first story, the idea came to me partly in a dream and then I daydreamed about it for a while and then wrote it down. I had pretty much each point of action covered.

It didn't make the actual writing easy for me. I've come to the conclusion nothing will do that. I have to get used to the wringing out of the words. What the outline did do was keep me going. Even when I would get stuck and have to stop, I knew what had to come next and I was working on it mentally. When I would finally get back to the keyboard, I usually had managed to work things out and I could get the next section done.

In this new story, I did what I thought was a good outline, but in trying to write I see that I have left out too many details. I can't get from point 6 to point 7 with what I have given myself. Now I have to figure out what I've left out!

This is going to be a longer story. Of course, I've made it harder by trying to write in script form. It's going to be too long for a script! Maybe that's what holding me back. I feel stuck, in a sense. I want to do the script and I hate to abandon it at this point, but I worry about how it will work out. We'll see.

This has become a boring exercise! I yak too much about the process of writing and don't do enough actual writing! I am hoping that somewhere my brain is still working on details for my story/script and when I've finished writing this pointless piece of tripe, I can go on to something more interesting - to write and to read!

Hmmm.. No such luck so far! This obviously has no bearing on what I want to do other than being something for my fingers to type while I sit here. It is producing nothing useful, is it? I don't really know. Maybe it is. Maybe by writing this, however awful it is, I am starting to develop a smidgen of discipline.

Oh there's that word again! I seem to be obsessed with something I don't have. Something I want. Discipline. I used to think of discipline as punishment. It's hard and sometimes still seems like punishment, but I'm beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel. I know the reason for it. It just starts out hard and then with the constant repetition, it gets easier.

So why is writing so hard for me? Did someone tell me it was hard at one time? I've done other things that people think are hard and didn't find them so. Was that because I didn't know they were 'supposed' to be hard? I don't know.

I remember as a child, about six or seven, I firmly decided I did NOT want to be a writer. I think, although I'm not sure, that this was because my mom wrote. At that time she had not done anything professionally and squeezed writing time out from a busy schedule of a mom with four kids. Perhaps I thought she was too busy with it when I wanted her attention. Perhaps I sensed her frustration at not doing what she wanted to do with it. (I won't even go into her difficulties at getting done what she wanted!)

Whatever my reasons, although I wrote quite a bit of poetry then, I didn't want to be a writer of any kind. In seventh grade I had an English teacher who required us to write for one whole class period every week. I did well and that's when I started to think maybe I would write. I don't think I wanted to be a "writer" yet. I just liked the success I felt at having written an "A" story and having it put into the school magazine.

In the next few years that feeling was bolstered. I think I had at least one story in the school magazine every year of Jr. High and High School. I also wrote a book review section for the school newspaper one year. By the time I graduated, I figured I would like to be a writer... Maybe.

They say that real writers have to write. They can't not write. It consumes them. I never have felt any overpowering need to write. I gave it all up years ago because I didn't feel I had to write. For me it's just a nagging. Constant nagging. As I look back, those were my best journal years! But even with the journal I felt the nagging. I'd get ideas for stories. My journal is full of them. Maybe they aren't all that good, but they were always there. And for a few years after my son was born I didn't seem to find the time to write in the journal, either, and I was miserable!

So maybe I do have to write. It still is hard. It still requires discipline. So I'll keep plodding along and writing ideas as I always have and working on outlines for them now that I see the importance of that. I'll probably keep whining about the difficulties, too, but, oh, it feels so good to have finished something!

    The End

This "essay" is an indulgence. I haven't written in several months and needed to get back at it and felt stuck. "Just write" is the only thing that would get me going again. I couldn't seem to get started, so I just whined about it. Perhaps I'll clean it up one day and present it properly. Today I just wanted to get it written and to post it to see if my Word Pro really will do the formatting for a web page.

2001 by F.S. Junaid