You Can’t Edit a Blank Page

“Easy reading is damn hard writing.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne

The story I am writing exists, written in absolutely perfect fashion, some place, in the air. All I must do is find it, and copy it – Jules Renard, “Diary” 1895

That’s the number one rule of writing. This brings me to my next point, that for most writers first drafts are pretty crappy. They are just you telling your story. They are called ‘first’ drafts for a reason. They aren’t meant to be perfect. They are just meant to be written. Every writer writes them and most of the time no else should see it. Just know that the second draft will be better than the first, and that the third might even be amazing.

This brings me right back to my opening premise. You can’t edit a blank page, you have to have something there to edit. You can’t fix it till it’s written, so just get it down, full of flaws and imperfections. You can keep writing knowing that fixing something that is there will always be possible.

So, my advice as a writer, who’s been there time and time again, is to trust that something is always better than nothing, and from that something will often be those gems that you will keep forever. Try to remember that almost all of the books and stories that you have treasured and appreciated also began as terrible first drafts. Don’t let your fear of failure, or even your fear of success, stop you. Everyone has to make that scary trip from the first page to the end. If you don’t produce something on that blank page you’ll never know how great you might have been.
Once you have a presentable draft, the key to editing is getting lots of feedback. More is always better than less. Trust others to tell you what works, what doesn’t, what’s clear, what isn’t. I have been part of this writers’ group for the past few years and it’s making a big difference in my writing. I can always trust the group to tell me what’s working or what’s not, what to take out, what to leave as it is. Today I love hearing what others have to say. They are sure to catch all that I have lost sight of as a result of simply being too close to my own work.

So, take on that blank page. By writing this blog I did!

Maureen Lynch

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