The Blank Page

You must not come lightly to the blank page–Stephen King

This will be a short post, because I can’t take it lightly that I’m facing a blank page, and I have a great deal of writing to do to meet my June 1 deadline.

I’m starting a new series! At least three books about three soldiers. I don’t want to say too much more about it, except that I’m at least one-third the way through it.

This has got me wondering, though…

How many pages do you usually write on the days that you write?

What is the greatest number of pages you have written in one day?

I am about to step up the pace and write more pages per day than I’ve ever done. I have no idea if I can do it! I’ll give you a count next Monday.

Which brings me to another question.

What do you do when you look at the blank page and you can’t figure out what comes next? What do you do to get over that hump when you don’t have any time to fool around?

Of writing well the source and fountainhead is wise thinking–Horace

By the way, go see Made of Honor at the movies. It’s great!

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Gillian Layne
14 years ago

Best of luck, Diane. I’m looking forward to reading about your soldiers.

I think I wrote about twenty pages on my best day. Most of the time it’s between one and four or five, and some days it’s none!

Totally blank means I skip forward or go back and edit a bit. I also leave the computer and grab a notebook and pen instead. That almost always works for me.

Diane Gaston
14 years ago

Thanks, gillian, for the tips. I sure hope I can get near 20 pages!

14 years ago

Well, I know back in the day with school papers, I’m pretty sure I had a couple blank pages that I stare at. . . but somehow it would come. I imagine papers are vastly different than books, so a coming due date, which usually worked for papers, procrastination isn’t good for books. But hope the juices start flowing soon! 🙂


Amanda McCabe
14 years ago

3/4 of a book in a month??? Good luck, and keep us updated!!!

A very good writing day here is 10 pages, an average one about 5. Some more, some less. 🙂 I’ve found that even on days when all I have to do is write, I only write effectively for about 3-4 hours. After that, it’s pretty bad. 🙂

Elizabeth Kerri Mahon
14 years ago

I once wrote 40 pages in one day because I made a self-imposed deadline that I would finish the WIP before I flew off to London. Generally, I write between 4 and 6 pages a day.

If I’m stuck looking at a blank page on the computer screen, like Gillian, I’ll skp the computer and write it down longhand. I find that works for me and gets me going. Nothing like the old-fashioned way.

Elena Greene
14 years ago

Diane, I’m looking forward to this series–love those military heroes!

My productivity ranges all over the place depending on how it’s going. This weekend I wrote 27 pages total, 18 on Saturday and 10 on Sunday. But that was on a writers’ retreat, with the support of fabulous writing buddies and no family/home obligations. I’ll tell you all more on Wednesday.

As for what I do when I’m stuck, I will either go for a thinking walk or go longhand and journal about why the scene can’t ever work. After a few pages of whining I often start coming up with solutions. 🙂

Diane Gaston
14 years ago

Well, so far Elizabeth holds the record, but Elena’s output this weekend is pretty impressive!

Thanks for the encouragement!

Janet Mullany
14 years ago

I once did 14,000 words in a weekend, which works out at about 50-odd pages. Not recently, though!

But I don’t think in pagecounts any more. I write single spaced and format much, much later so I don’t get trapped in the countdown mentality which I find is a real creativity killer. I usually tally up my word count at the end of the day/session.

Diane Gaston
14 years ago

OMIGOSH. Janet holds the record! I can’t imagine even typing that fast.

I’ve four pages done so far today.

14 years ago

I’ve set my own deadline of June 1st, too, even though I’m an unpub. Because I know who I’m going to market my current WIP to, first, and my gut tells me I need to get this out there fast. It’s the kind of thing where if some other writer gets there first I won’t be able to sell it.

So, I’m doing an average of 5/6 pages a day in 3 or 4 hours, because I work 3/4 time and then run kids around. The most pages I’ve written in a day on a weekend is 20. But I find that the next day then the well needs to fill a little bit before I sit down to write.

When I can’t feel what comes next (as if it’s spooled up and ready to go) I re-read back a few chapters to re-align my story threads then I go take a bath/shower or a walk.

I keep running notes at the end of my ms, so sometimes I’ll scroll down and read the notes to jumpstart a new page. I find that starting a writing session on a new chapter is harder than in the middle, so even though it’s tempting to stop when I end a chapter late at night, I write a couple sentences of the next chapter before tucking it in.

Best of luck! Can’t wait to read it. 🙂

Diane Gaston
14 years ago

I find that starting a writing session on a new chapter is harder than in the middle, so even though it’s tempting to stop when I end a chapter late at night, I write a couple sentences of the next chapter before tucking it in.

This is a great idea, janegeorge! I try to get to the end of a chapter. I, too, reread when I get stuck.

Good luck on your deadline! I’m eager to know more, but maybe you’d better not say until after you pitch.

14 years ago

I have done about 15 pages in one day but that only happened once. I tend to do about 3 to 5 pages on the days I come home and write after work and between 6 and 10 on my days off. Of course those are the good days. The bad days I sit and stare at the blank page. Curse. Get a glass of tea. Walk around and give the computer the evil eye like IT is the problem. Move the cat out of the chair. Sit and stare at the screen some more. Get up and go pee because I drank too much tea. Get more tea. You get the picture!

Diane Gaston
14 years ago

yes, O Doggie One, it sounds just like my routine….except I can fill a whole day like that!

Keira Soleore
14 years ago

Ten pages is when I have shocked and awed myself. Most days it’s four.

These days, I’ve found that by mixing it up between handing writing in a notebook and typing it in a computer, I usually have a different option available for the blank page. I’ve never run into the situation when I have pen in hand and have nothing to say. The opposite is true.

One of my most memorable handwriting moments came this weekend. I was sitting in the cafe adjoining the Border bookstore before a signing. And I was choreographing a fight scene in deep POV. I was trying to figure out the height of the man on top and the one below, the positions of the limbs and thus decide how I’m going to go for the killer blow. My hand gripped the pen and repeatedly came down. After a bit I heard a cough and looked up to see slightly alarmed staring eyes. Before I could hook my tongue to my brain and make the apology, she gathered all her things and scooted from there.

My advice: Write your fight scenes and love scenes at home. So you can, er, find positions away from prying eyes.

Oh, and a new blog is posted to my blog.

Does a movie with the title “Made of Honor” even have a plot? Just splash that gawgeeus Patrick on the movie poster and every scene, that’s all I ask.

Diane Gaston
14 years ago

Too funny, Keira! I love that you really got into your fight scene!

Made of Honor has a plot similar to My Best Friend’s Wedding but with the twist of it being the guy who’s girl pal is getting married. McDreamy is…well…thoroughly dreamy but also very funny. There are vividly drawn minor characters, too, and you learn to love all of them. I heard it didn’t get good reviews but I thought it was wonderful. It takes a lot to make me laugh in a movie and I laughed a bunch of times in this one.

La Belle Americaine
14 years ago

Back when I was mental? 40 in one day.

I’m working on getting back to that mental state since it was sheer brazen fearlessness that spurred my daily challenges to myself.

Good luck with your deadline!

Diane Gaston
14 years ago

La belle americaine, welcome to the Risky Regencies! So nice to have you.

40 pages? Sigh, I need to get “mental” too!

14 years ago

When I have to turn out a lot of stuff on short notice, it’s usually for something like a grant proposal. They have hard deadlines, so procrastination is not really an option. But they are deadly, deadly dull. I can often barely force myself to get started because everything looks like a string of platitudes. “We will investigate this and optimize that. Blah, blah, blah.” The only thing worse than writing them is reading them.

In my misspent youth I used to turn out 5-10 pages per day. But I shudder at the thought of going back and reading them now. They were probably terrible.


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