My Journey as a Writer – blog (part 4)

My Journey as a Writer documents my journey as I rediscover my love of writing, and push forward into a new career path. Watch for new posts on Mondays and Thursdays.

Part 4 includes – 

  • The blank page – intimidating or exciting?
  • Writing prompts – friend or foe?

The blank page – intimidating or exciting?

I mentioned in my previous blog post about my biggest writing tip – start writing, one word at a time. That’s the secret, although it isn’t much of a secret at all. And yes, sometimes it’s easier said than done. Believe me. 

One tip is to know before you start whether you’re going to free-write or write with intent. This helps organize and focus your thoughts.

The blank page (or screen) can be intimidating. There’s an expectation, albeit maybe from yourself, to create something from nothing. 

The blank page can also exciting. It’s filled with endless possibilities. The tricky part is somehow mining those endless opportunities and figuring out what to write. I think that is my biggest obstacle. I often have a ton of ideas but have trouble getting focused on one.

I mentioned an expectation with the blank page. The expectation intensifies with a computer screen, and the cursor blinking, blinking, blinking as if to say – Well? I’m waiting. Are you going to type something or not? 

Sometimes writing on paper is the way to go. It seems more patient and understanding. I like writing with pen and paper. There’s an intimacy with pen to paper contact, almost as sensual as skin to skin contact. There is a continuity, a flow, that happens. The ideas form in your mind, flow through your body to your hands, to your pen, and you write something in your own font. It becomes more personal. And if it feels more personal, you may be encouraged to share something more personal – which often leads to writing that’s more fulfilling, both to you and the reader.

Writing prompts – friend or foe?

Some people turn to writing prompts to get the creative juices flowing, especially for a journal or creative writing. I use some every so often. There’s certainly nothing wrong with using them, but I’ve found that they can be a hit or a miss.

While writing prompts can help focus your attention on a specific topic, they can also be limiting. Now, instead of having a blank canvas to create your art, it’s reduced to a “paint-by-numbers” exercise that encourages you to stay within the lines. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’ve used some writing prompts that were flammable kindling for my fire. I’ve read others that were worse than a blank page. Even with a writing prompt, I can’t write about anything. It needs to be something relatable. It needs to push the right buttons for me. 

I’ve started to create my own writing prompts and keep a running list with my writing resources. When I don’t know what to write about, I pull out my list. This way, I already have prompts available, and they’re something that interests me. Brainstorming a list of writing topics can be a fun and creative exercise with benefits. 

Even in my journal, I try to go a little deeper than the usual day-to-day fodder. Writing about my day can get repetitive and dull. (Maybe that’s telling me something about my day.) I try to focus on how I feel about certain things or topics. It’s often more exciting to write about your opinions or perspectives, instead of what happened in your day.

Ideas for writing prompts

  • Ask yourself a question and then answer it. How do I feel about _________? 
  • Consider revisiting a painful memory or something you’ve buried deep in your mind. 
  • Describe your perfect day, vacation, or career.

Writing for fun is enjoyable, but writing to challenge yourself can be even more rewarding. A fresh writing prompt can unlock a flood of thoughtful, meaningful, and compelling writing.

I want to challenge myself in my writing, not just overcome the challenge of writer’s block. 

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