After a night of snow, I was eager to get out with Sophie, our dog, before anyone had shoveled. And since it was 7am on a Sunday morning, we were in luck. At first I just savored the unblemished freshness of it all, but as we tromped down the unshoveled sidewalks I noticed, with growing joy, the companionable paw and boot prints that followed us.
As writers we, too, can appreciate the pristine beauty of untouched snow. And hopefully, at some point, we’ve all enjoyed the magic of leaving footprints on snow. Why then, is it so hard to feel the same way about the beautiful potential of a blank page? Why, instead, are we so often beset by that dreaded condition known as writer’s block? Instead of appreciating this moment of embarking on a fresh new creative journey, we fret. What will we write about, we ask ourselves. How will we start? Will we ever fill the page? Will it be good enough to share with anyone? What if it stinks?
As those snow tracks remind me, the answer is: Stop worrying about all that nonsense! Just jump in! Leap, prance, trod, make circles in the snow. Don’t worry about where the prints are going or if they are perfect. Just enjoy putting your writerly marks on that pristine page!
For me, this leaping and prancing sometimes takes the form of lists. Other times, it takes the form of free writing – where I just trot ahead, like Sophie, only with a pen, writing down everything as it comes, not pausing, or erasing, or worrying about where I am going. Evaluating which ideas I will choose to pursue will come later. For now, like our boot and paw prints, my goal is just to play with words and ideas so that the blank, snow-covered surface of my page is filled with the joyful leaps and prances of words and ideas unencumbered by worry and self-editing.
Do you have a blank page that you need to tackle? Well, first savor that pristine white surface and then jump in! Happy paw-printing, er writing, all!