The blank page syndrome. Most writers will tell you it’s the scariest thing about their job. That moment the ideas don’t flow, grammar gets tangled before it leaves your head, and your screen (or notepad) is glowing a terrifying white.
It’s all the more scary when you’re being paid by the hour. And there’s a Big Scary Business (BSB) waiting for that perfect strapline.
So, what do you do?
Lots of writers like to fight fire with fire: confront said dilemma with a pen, and write through. (When the deadline’s stomping nearer, it’s sometimes the only way.) But I’ve always believed in fighting fire with distance.
Usually that means taking a walk and clearing my head. Sloshing through my local Epping Forest. Wandering up the River Lea. Or shouldering through the crowds on the Tube for a little city escapism.
But that’s all very local, isn’t it? And I know it. And that makes it comfortable. And comfort isn’t the energy I need to beat the blank page monster, oh no. Sometimes, we need adventure.
So, for five days in February, I braved the floods of England and headed to pastures new. I was battered by gales on Solomon’s Temple, questioned by police after a local burning and assault in Buxton (lesson learnt: don’t tell a police person that the crime they’re trying to solve ‘sounds exciting’), I waded through streams near Bakewell, ate well in Bristol, crossed the suspension bridge, got smashed in the face by hail. All with my flatmate, designer Alex.
I thought about writing roughly zero times. I faced no blank pages, experienced no terrifying whiteness. I beat myself up and questioned my ability to write in no way, at no point. Instead, I waded and crossed and sloshed and met and chatted and tasted and learnt and wondered and questioned and felt inspired by it all.
And now I feel ready to write anything.