The Dreaded Blank Page

Even for the most seasoned writer, there may be nothing more daunting than starting to write… particularly when faced with a looming deadline and absence of an idea from which to begin.

What you are reading now is the result of such an impasse… but that’s not the right word, since these sentences prove I am past the first part of the challenge.  Now, at the moment of writing this, I have no way of knowing whether this sentence or the next will ever make it into the final memo, but I am doing one important thing that I was not doing ten minutes ago…  writing.

These monthly works are particularly challenging when I have not been inspired by an issue that stirs some passion – pro or con. I frankly prefer limitations and directives.  For instance, a friend asked for help with his business recently and when he finishes the homework I assigned, the copy will have to flow around the list of key word terms the target audience will be searching on the Web.  This search engine optimization for his online materials sets specific limitations, but also provides a framework upon which the written material can be hung.  (A moment ago there was a marginal analogy here, but on trying to complete it, I realized it was not useful… so it’s gone.)

Just got back from a walk now: it’s been ten minutes or so since the last line was written. Sometimes it helps to move around, or just do something else and come back to the task. It is in writing this line that I finally know what this memo is about… tips for writing. Not pronoun filters or suggestions for reducing passive verbs, but working through a writing task that isn’t clicking.

Ultimately it comes down to one thing – write something. It may be less poetic than you wish it to be, but at least you have something to edit.  And once actually tapping at the keyboard, you have committed yourself to some degree of engagement in the task – which means procrastination has ended.

While this may not be my most scintillating post for this blog, it is now done, so I can begin thinking about something better for next month.

Dr. Michael C. Porter, APR is the director of the UST MBC program.