The Blank Page is a new weekly series on Novelty Revisions dedicated to any writer who is just beginning their journey or starting again after a long pause. Check back every Monday for more tips and inspiration.
Writing is, for many people, a business. Some depend on writing to sustain themselves, to pay their rent and feed their family and enjoy the few luxuries they may be able to afford thanks to their ability to communicate efficiently and effectively with words.
But even considering that, it’s just not wise to take yourself so seriously every moment of your writing time that you withhold all the light and joy that could transform your otherwise bland prose into something extravagant.
As a beginning writer, you probably already have a lot going on. You’re in the midst of trying to figure out who you want to be as a creator — what kinds of stories you want to tell, how to tell them, how to not be afraid to write the stories you want the world to see … it’s so much to balance. Too much, in some cases.
The last thing you need is to leave all the fun out of your craft and make yourself miserable as a result.
Until today, I’d been putting off a big personal project for a few weeks. I’d done everything I always advise my readers to do — I set a start date and a deadline. I broke the work up into small pieces. I wrote my goals down in multiple places. All I had to do was sit down and write.
But I was scared. I was dreading the writing part. Not because I didn’t want to do it, but because it was a different kind of writing for me. A new kind of challenge. I was afraid I wasn’t going to do a good job, that it would take more time than I had. That I would somehow fail just by writing a first draft that only I would ever see.
I’ve been writing for … let’s just say 15 years and not worry about the specifics. Fifteen years, and I still get scared that I’m going to write bad.
Even before I’ve started writing.
How did I finally overcome my fear and finish the work? I looked at the blank page in front of me and said, out loud, “This is supposed to be fun. Do something fun.”
So I did.
I wrote 1,000 words of pure silliness, smiled almost the entire time, and almost started laughing as I walked away from my desk to reward myself (yes, with coffee) for a job well done.
You can’t usually take something like a big work proposal or an important write-up and goof around to such an extreme — you do have to take things seriously in certain situations, absolutely.
But I’ve written it before and I’ll write it again: Even if you’re working on a writing project that requires you to be fully professional, no jokes or the like allowed, you need a secondary project that makes you laugh. One that is just pure joy to open and work on. One that lets you set your creativity free and smile at your computer screen like a weirdo because all writers should be a little weird. It should be a prerequisite.
We take everything so seriously — because, often, we have to.
Don’t forget to leave some room for writing that is the exact opposite of serious.
It’s good for your mental and emotional health. It’s good for your work, your energy, your motivation. It’s good for your heart, and for your soul.
Write something that makes you smile today.
You deserve it. We all do.
Just starting out as a writer or returning from an extended hiatus? Let me know how I can help. Just drop a comment below with your questions/concerns — I am here to serve.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is an editor and writer, and a 12-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food, and Star Wars.