Intimidating. Infinite. Deadly. Don't let its calm façade fool you: nothing has inspired so much fear in the hearts and minds of writers. The mere sight of it can be paralyzing, and the longer you stare at it, the stronger it gets. It doesn’t even have to say a word to murder more manuscripts than the most capricious of editors. It is . . . the blank page.
No seriously! Every step of the writing process has its share of knock-outs. But most people don’t start a book without an idea (stage one), and if they do, they at least made it to the next stage. And the outline (stage two)? Technically, you can skip that, too, which gives the actual writing of the first draft (stage three) the most knock-outs by far.
The problem with the blank page is that it is perfect. An endless spread of white representing infinite possibility—for both success and humiliation. Your story—your perfect story—could be on that page. But so could something so awful, you’d fear to use your pen name on the internet forevermore.
But it’s important to remember that this is just the first draft, and that your keyboard has a delete button. You want everything to be just perfect, but your manuscript, like a kid’s knees, is going to suffer a few scrapes and bruises in growing. And that’s okay! Because you learn with each Band-aid. No written word is wasted. Every one of them will make you a better writer. Besides, the sooner you get your first draft down, the sooner you can get to fixing it!
Playing with POV
A book is not just an accounting of events. Books famously leave things out. And it’s a good thing, too! Having to experience every moment in every character’s life, from every possible perspective, would be a total nightmare. One of the most important—and invisible--parts of writing a book is choosing what scenes and points of view (POV) you’re going to use to tell your story. Do it right, and readers will be hooked. Do it wrong, and something just won’t feel right.