Three authors tackle Blank Page Syndrome

One of the greatest challenges a writer faces is Blank Page Syndrome. When we sit down to write with a fresh sheet of paper or a blank word-processor screen, the page or screen looks back at us as if to say, “Well?”

Three BestSelling Reads member authors discuss how they face the blank page.

Elyse Salpeter

Elyse Salpeter photo

Blank Page Syndrome is interesting to me. Over the years I’ve compiled something I call “Story Starters.” I sit down at a blank piece of paper and I just start writing the beginning of a story. I just pick any idea and write. I give myself the liberty of writing only one page. If I find what I’ve written is interesting, I print it and put it in an envelope to be looked at later. 

Over the years, I’ve put 20 to 50 “story starters” in there. Occasionally I’ve gone in and seen merit in one, and then I have actually used those works to create short stories and sometimes even a novel.

Blank pages are just that. Thoughts. It could be stream of consciousness. The idea is to just write and for me it’s an exercise to simply keep myself writing.

Elyse Salpeter is the author of the Kelsey Porter supernatural thriller series, paranormal suspense and horror. Her latest book is the dystopian future novel, The Door on the Right. 

Visit her BestSelling Reads author page for more.

Samreen Ahsan

3/4 portrait of author Samreen Ahsan

There was hardly a moment in my ten years of writing that I had faced writer’s block. But I’d say life gets in the way, and I pause whatever I am writing. If I resume it after a long time and struggle to pick up where I left off, I do a few things which I highly recommend to other writers. 

Read whatever you have written so far. Read it aloud so the words settle in your mind and build that world again.

Take a break. Read a book. Go for a walk. Listen to an audiobook or podcast to refresh your mind or listen to soothing music for mindfulness. 

Start afresh. If you don’t feel like writing the same story, start a new one. Sometimes, another world leads you back to your previous world. 

Take inspiration. Inspiration comes in many ways. You can watch a good show. If you’re writing a historical novel, watch the period shows of that era to get an idea of the character’s attire. Travel and explore a new place to perhaps provide a setting for your scene. Meet people and observe them for character-building. 

A lot of the time, simple research leads to a whole new world.

Samreen Ahsan is the author of the award-winning Prayer paranormal romance series and the [Stolen] time-travel romance series. 

Visit her BestSelling Reads author page for more. 

Scott Bury

What’s the opposite of writer’s block? 

My problem with the blank page is that I don’t have enough time to write all the stories I could tell.

I made a list once of the ideas I wrote down in various places for books. There are at least 20, and the list keeps growing.

Many are full-blown plot outlines: I know the beginning and the end, and the major milestones on the way between them.

Where do ideas come from? Just about everywhere. A news story could be a source for an new story (See what I did there?)

A kitchen witch in a gift shop sparked my short story, Dark Clouds. The book I’m working on now was sparked by another book. I’m not copying an idea, but one element led to an idea, which led to … well, you’ll have to read it.

My latest release, Echoes, was inspired by two songs from my youth. Wildfire was the result of my wife saying to me on a trip one day, “You should write a book about this.”

Another complete story came to me in a dream. Literally. 

There are so many more, and the list keeps growing.

My wife wants me to get going on an idea I mentioned to her, a non-fiction guidebook that she thinks I’m the ideal writer for: How to Drive Your Wife Crazy. I’m still doing the research. 

There are so many other things I have to do: the day job, house upkeep, promotion of my existing books, podcast (Beyond Barbarossa, the first English-language podcast in the world) …  

One day, when I become independently wealthy (buy more books, readers), I will just be able to sit down and do nothing but write.

What’s my writer’s block? Time. Not enough of it.

Scott Bury is the author of the Dark Age historical fantasy series, Hawaiian Storm Mystery series, and The Eastern Front Trilogy. His latest book is Echoes, Hawaiian Storm mystery number 4.

Visit his BestSelling Reads author page for more.

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