Facing the blank page

Our local daily newspaper has always had a full page of cartoons. I enjoy reading these cartoons whenever we get the paper. Some of them are very witty, others are clever and many of them reflect life’s struggles.

One cartoon earlier this week showed one of the characters sitting at an old fashioned typewriter. The caption read:

“Nothing’s more terrifying to a writer than facing a blank piece of paper – except reading back what you wrote yesterday!”

Facing the blank piece of paper is bad enough, but going back over yesterday’s writing and finding it less brilliant than you thought possible at the time is rather embarrassing at best and downright infuriating at worst.

What to do?

Writers have no option but to rewrite. Sometimes it is wise just to scrap the whole piece and start over again. Wait a moment though – don’t totally throw it away or hit the delete key. Even the worst piece of writing can potentially be reworked and used in the future.

The real key is knowing when to give up on a piece of writing and when to slave for hours trying to whip a poor passage into something acceptable. That discernment takes years of experience. Experienced writers know the difference between time that is spent reworking a passage and time taken to totally start again.

I’m not happy with how this article has come out. Maybe I should leave it until tomorrow before I rework it.

Or delete it.

Good writing.


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