by Robin Mayhall
copyeditor for several Graphic Universe titles and author of Twisted Journeys #17 and a book in an upcoming series—titles still top secret!
Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, novels or graphic novels, a lot of writers have trouble just getting started. Some struggle with actual writer’s block. Others just need a little jump start on those first few words and sentences. Sometimes that blank white page, whether it’s in a notebook or on a laptop screen, can be incredibly daunting. The thought of having to fill it or to reach some magic number of words can end up paralyzing even the most creative of writers.
When asked by beginning writers to give them my best tip for getting over that hump, I offer this suggestion. If you’re having trouble starting, try an “info dump.” Open a blank document in your word processing program and just start typing—with no regard to spelling or format—all of the ideas you can think of related to your article or story. Toss out names for characters, settings, historical facts, even quotes and scraps of dialogue. The process will get your creative juices flowing and also give you the basis for a handy reference as the piece progresses. You can go back to it later to organize and add to the information.
This tip actually works just as well for business writing as it does for fiction. You can briefly outline the organization of your article, list potential sources, write questions you might ask when interviewing an expert… whatever fills up that blank page and just gets the fingers wiggling and the all-important synapses firing.
Those who have struggled with severe writer’s block may be skeptical of this technique, but I’ve seen it work. I think it depends on what’s behind the block. For some writers it’s as simple—and terrifying—as that blank white page. Filling the empty space with something useful may be just the solution.