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Blog post by Ascia Guseva

An overwhelming majority of us get stuck in front of a blank page upon sitting down to write. We find excuses not to write or delay the first words because we want them to be perfect. We tend to think that writing is a well-structured and well-thought-out process, but it’s more spontaneous than not. As Jodi Picoult once said, “You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” The fear of the blank page is a very common obstacle often described as the fear of not knowing or the fear of expectations. Forget that you are writing for an audience – that creates resistance. You are writing for yourself. “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story,” to quote another famous figure, Terry Pratchett.

Writing is an art, and art does not require a system. Put pen to paper, open your computer, find some paper scraps and anything you can scribble with, and just start. Myself, I find this to be very practical advice. I often subconsciously tell myself to find the perfect time and the perfect place with a fancy notebook and pen. Truth be told, this hardly ever works in my favor; the inspiration is just not there. But then, I’d find myself at the oddest of moments with an old receipt and a pen that was on the bottom of my bag for months and start writing notes circulating in my head.

Once you get started, don’t stop. Keep your hand moving. Don’t think about spelling. Don’t think about what you want to cook for lunch. Don’t be bothered by the lines or creases of the paper. Just write. There is no need to even go back and edit right after you finish a part. Come back shortly and just continue the thought. It is your voice. It is the essence of your thinking. It may even occur to you that what you have written may reflect some parts of your personality or background history. That’s good – the inner part of you is communicating with your unadulterated voice and style.

Keep your own pace with drafting and editing, and don’t overthink. Think of writing as something to enjoy the process and the benefits of rather than feeling obligated to create a perfect piece, be that a personal expression or an academic paper. As it goes with any practice, the more you try and commit to it, the easier and more natural it gets with time.

And for the closing remarks, I will end with a quote from an American novelist, Louis L’Amour, “Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”