Writing Goals

New Year’s Resolution: Tackling the Blank Page


We have all been there: that white document glowing in your face, only marked with a flashing cursor simply ticking off the seconds that you aren’t writing—that you are allowing your idea to tuck further inside of you, away from the fate that waits on the page.

You have your idea, that little seed of inspiration you have carefully nurtured until a hint of a sprout peeks out, but when it comes time to coax it out into the world, you feel it shrink back into that safe space. Who can blame it? It is cozy and peaceful there, without any of the twisting and turning to find the sun and the pressure to blossom in just the right way. Any stray tendril, any leaf gone awry, will be subject to the shears—cutting away to reveal your desired shape. Even that most delicately perfect petal, your favorite, could be trimmed off if it doesn’t fit the silhouette just right.

The ubiquitous New Year’s resolution for those with their heads full of curled-up seedlings is to finally scatter them out on the page and shine a warm light on them. Why do we see writing that first line as such a hurdle? Why is typing suddenly an anxiety-inducing act?

Risk. Vulnerability. The actualization of an idea that looks so pristine in our heads, but may in reality reveal itself to be misunderstood. What we attempt to groom and trim into a soft, charming lily could turn out to be a stinking corpse flower.

And yet, we must do it anyway. We must clear our heads of these sprouted seeds—the beautiful, the odd, the painful to look at—to find what will grow in the light of that blank page. “There is nothing to writing,” Ernest Hemingway once said, “All you have to do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” It sounds horrible and painful—and it can be—but, as writers, we crave that release. All of those seedlings filling your head have curled around your thoughts and consumed your daydreams. You have a story inside of you just waiting to spring forward. You have words that the world needs to hear. You can feel the thoughts and images and characters build up within you; now let them spill out onto the page through your fingertips.

Don’t start trimming your ideas—don’t even read them—until you know what you have. Put away the critical eye of the pruning shears and simply admire the shapes that your words make on the page. Watch as they crawl and climb into places you didn’t even know they could go and transform that sad white page like lush green ivy down a flat stucco wall.

Let this be the year that you spill all those little seeds into the soil, give them love, and show them faith. A new year means a new opportunity to look at that blank screen and see promise, possibility, and purpose. The year will pass anyway, so you might as well watch what grows when you step out of the way, releasing your ideas from the shadows and flooding them with light on a beaming screen.


With experience as an English literature teacher and freelance writer, Elaine brings her knack for revision to the editorial team. She started at the University of Central Florida in 2005, and she holds degrees in English Literature and Language Arts Education with an additional minor in writing. As a parenting blogger, she enjoys writing about her adventures with her toddler daughter and husband as they take advantage of living where the rest of the world vacations.

4 Comments on “New Year’s Resolution: Tackling the Blank Page

  1. Beautifully stated! Staring at a blank page can be so intimidating. But it’s important to remember that the first step is just getting the words out, as messy as they may be.

    1. Thank you, Kristen! Yes, for me (and many other writers I would imagine) overcoming self-doubt can be the hardest part of the process! It is important to let your creativity come through unfiltered before trying to tame it into any kind of structure or form. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment!

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