I began the new alien invasion novel this week, and it startled me how quickly and easily I was able to get into the swing of things. There was no blank page phobia.
Let me back up and explain a bit. Blank page phobia is that feeling of hesitation when you begin a new project. You’ve got the blank page staring at you – a vast, empty white space – and you’ve got to somehow turn it into something unique. Your own expectations can get in the way too. I have a vivid memory of one story where I’d finish the first day’s work, check to find that I had about five or six pages, and then felt discouraged. Novels don’t clock in at five or six pages. Of course, they also don’t get finished on the first day either.
Overcoming blank page phobia is the product of time and experience. I think the reason I began this new book without it is because I developed a rhythm for my writing process in the failed series. I write a vignette each day, and I’ll write notes for it the night before: where it’s set, what the weather’s like, a sequence of events that needs to be completed (or at least I’ll use that to guide me through the piece). Then, the next day when it’s go time, I sit down at write away. It doesn’t all get done in one sitting, of course, but the goal is to finish that vignette by the end of the day.
Establishing a rhythm may be helpful to you as well if you find yourself struggling to be productive. Also remember that a lot of that productivity is mental. No, a novel isn’t a few pages long, but don’t worry about that when you’re doing your day’s writing. Just worry about getting through your five or six pages.