Staring at a blank piece of paper can be overwhelming. The idea of starting from scratch can sometimes produce a sense of premature defeat. The problem is that too often one focuses on everything that lies between the blank page and the finished product. The gulf seems too large. Build a bridge over that gulf with the help of these writing tips.
Doodle on the blank piece of paper. Begin by writing down all of the random ideas that pop into your mind. This will allow your mind to loosen up and a will create a sense of momentum for your writing task on which you can capitalize. Let the blank paper become your brainstorming partner instead of your taunting foe. This free flow of ideas doesn’t need to be limited to one sitting. Keep your paper near you throughout the course of the day so that you can record anything that comes to mind.
Walk away. Give yourself some space from the project. Allow your subconscious to work on it while you take care of other things. When you return to focusing exclusively on the writing task at hand you will have fresh eyes and possibly a clearer perspective on the direction you wish to take.
Talk it out. The best way to see how well you understand something is to verbalize it to someone else. In math assignments, teachers now encourage students to not only give the right answer but to give an explanation of how they arrived at that answer. If the student understands the process then the student will always get the right answer. Similarly, the better you can explain your ideas and thoughts out loud the better you can record them textually in a clear and cohesive fashion.
Map it out. Sort through the “doodling.” Keep what is useful and avail yourself of the rest. Now you have manageable, relevant and productive content blurbs. Take those blurbs and map them out in the order in which they should appear in your writing.
Fill it out. Now you can face your final blank page without suffering from that crippling anxiety that defeats so many people. Your ideas are laid out, the content is ordered and all you have to do is elaborate on the ideas.
A professor gave me some invaluable advice when I shared my sense of anxiety about all of the work that needed to be done for all of my classes. He said “You just need to quit thinking about what needs to be done and just do it.” When you see that blank page in front of you, stop thinking about the totality of what needs to be done. Just do it. Break it down into little, harmless steps that incrementally build upon themselves. Next thing you know, you will have accomplished your writing project without having succumbed to blank page anxiety.