Getting past the blank page

Leslie Tralli blank notebook on The Brave Art Lab

Motivation: the key to writing (and most other things in life…)

No matter how much you love to write, sometimes you just can’t face that blank page.

Most writers experience a range of internal motivating factors: the need to create, the fear that if you don’t get it down on paper it’ll be gone forever, and the drive to produce something tangible, whether for personal enjoyment or for a wider audience.

The problem is, some days every shred of internal motivation flies right out the window the minute we sit down to a blank page.

Some days we need some external motivation: a metaphorical kick in the pants to get us going.

Me? I need nice juicy goal.

Whether it’s registering for a half marathon to keep me running through the winter or pledging to write 50,000 words in a month, I need to be chasing something to get me off the couch.

And even though I often (always!) hate the goal while I’m in the middle of the slog (why am I out running when its -24C? Why??), it sure helps keep me focussed.

That’s why I signed up for Nanowrimo again this year.

Not familiar with, Nanowrimo? It’s National Novel Writing Month! The brilliant online creative writing community that bursts into action every November with the goal of writing 50,000 words in 30 days.

I first signed up for Nanowrimo in 2006.

November 4, 2006, in fact. I’d just made a pact with myself to start writing more, to start working on that novel I knew was in me somewhere, to sit down and hash out some words on (virtual) paper Every. Single. Day.

So, all fired up to write, I changed into comfortable clothes, tidied up the kitchen, took the dog for a walk, threw in a load of laundry, made a cup of coffee, rearranged my bookshelf, and then sat down at the computer and cracked open Internet Explorer to do a little writing research.

I’d just made a solemn pact with myself to start writing more, but I didn’t necessarily mean right this minute

But, lo, what appeared in my search results was this crazy thing called Nanowrimo – a whole community of writers pledging to write every day for a month! For fun! It didn’t even have to be good writing, as long it was writing. First draft! No pressure! And I was only four days late starting. I’ve always been a late starter; four days is peanuts.

I signed up, and started crunching out a novel. And I did it. 50,000 words. I won Nanowrimo! (Along with thousands of other writers – it was a fabulous feeling.)

I still have that novel on my hard drive. It’s the worst possible drivel-shit you can imagine, but that doesn’t matter! What matters is that that novel got me going, got me writing, got me thinking about writing, and got me writing some more.

I’m doing Nanowrimo again this year, although this time around I’m attempting to slog out 50,00 words worth of blog posts and articles. I’m past the half way mark and still on target. I love a good goal!

What’s your motivation? What gets you past the blank page? I’d love to hear about it, because November’s almost over – I’m going to need another kick in the pants soon…




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