Friday, 3 December 2010


What shall I write about today? I've not got a clue - inspiration has definitely left me. The blank post awaits my typing but I have nothing to say. There must be a million posts out there which start in pretty much the same way, a zillion newspaper and magazine articles. There are probably quite a few novels that begin like this - and an awful lot more that begin the first draft in the same way.

We have to write something, anything, to fill the blank page, and yet our fingers either lie idle or our thoughts stray into solipsism as we busily examine our empty navels.

On a weekly basis I subject my students to the same terrible situation. Write about this, I command, write about that. Their faces stare at me blankly.

'How long have we got?' one might ask, playing for time.

'8 minutes and 35 seconds,' I say brightly. 'Off you go.'

And off they go. Everybody writes something. It might not be long, or original or particularly inspired, but written it is. I want to say that again: EVERYBODY writes something. My students are a talented and lovely lot, but they are ordinary people. When put under pressure, they can always write.

We need to do that to ourselves sometimes. Turn up at the blank page and demand that you write something. It doesn't matter what, just get it down. Inspiration is as much about turning up as it is about good ideas.


womagwriter said...

It is amazing what you can accomplish in a short time with a deadline. My writing tutor uses the same idea, only we get just 6 minutes, and a kitchen timer beeps when time is up!

Sarah Duncan said...

I have thought about using a kitchen timer but have yet to put the thought into action. (Bit like my non-fiction book that's been lurking for the last couple of years.)

womagwriter said...

What's your non-fiction idea? if it's a how to write book then go for it - everyone in writingblogland will want a copy!

Sarah Duncan said...

How nice! I've actually got two ideas for books about writing, which I never seem to get round to writing the proposal for. Bit like finishing making my sitting room curtains. Perhaps I'll make the effort over Christmas...