The Tyranny of the Blank Screen

Blank-Word-Document

This screen is blank.

Now that I’ve typed four words, it is less blank.

At present, there are 14 words on the screen, and I can relax a bit. I will still be concerned about the order of the words, how well they flow, how well they convey my idea, my mood, my Right Now. But the more I type, the less overwhelming everything seems. I must keep typing.

A blank screen is intimidating. I always worry that no matter how well I beat back the last one, I won’t be able to do it again. The last one may have resulted in the greatest batch of words ever splattered over a blank screen, but that doesn’t matter. There is now this new one to contend with.

I despise you, you blank screen, you. You are a sonofabitch.

It doesn’t matter how many times I come up against you. You’re always there. Always empty. Always taunting me, saying, “Don’t think you can fill me up again. Not with anything that’s any good.”

The blank screen says, “Walt, I dare you…seriously. Because no matter how much you type, I will always be blank. I extend into infinity with my blankness. Type all you want. There is nothing but blank me ahead.”

46 thoughts on “The Tyranny of the Blank Screen

    • I think if I were an artist I would view the blank canvas the same way as the blank screen. However, I’m sure that some artists see the finished product in their head before they start and just need the blank canvas as a place to put it.

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      • This reference to a blank canvas brings to mind that, when I write, I see the words first, then rush to my canvas and lay down what I see in my head. So I never have to approach a blank page. Like the painter, my empty page is the canvas where I set down what I see. After the initial brsuh stroke is down in words and letters, I then continue, as you mention in your post, gaining confidence with every new thought. Interesting topic, this.

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      • Michelangelo once said, or at least I once read that he once said, that he never sculpted anything. He only chipped away the stone to reveal the sculpture within. If that’s true, and I would guess it probably is, then that seems pretty much the epitome of artistic genius.

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      • Yes. I agree. If I applied that to myself, I’d write a lot more than I do, chipping away at the blank page. Good thought.

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    • I see a blank canvas and I want to bother it. I want to put a great big splatter of yellow right on the top and paint a sun even if it is stupid and silly. I hate the purity of the white. It is so boring that it begs to be colored on but when I see a blank screen…. I get what this author is saying. It intimidates the fuck out of me.

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      • I think I’m more intimidated by a blank canvas than a blank screen. I know I suck at art and whatever I put on the canvas will be crap so I don’t worry about it quite so much. I don’t think I suck at writing, but that’s why the blank screen is more intimidating. I want whatever I put down to be good, so I put more pressure on myself.

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  1. I actually kind of like the blank screen, or the blank page. So open for possibilities, open to anything that may come.
    At least, that is what I tell myself as I stare at a blank screen trying to figure out the right words to put on it… it’s waiting for all those possibilities to narrow down to the right one….

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    • Another optimist… What’s wrong with you people? Just kidding! Actually, you’ve touched upon the very thing that frustrates me so often… The struggle to achieve perfection. The idea (certainly wrong) that there is one true and perfect sequence of words, and that anything else is failure.

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      • Hehe, I’ve had to teach myself to be an optimist (or, am still teaching myself that? One of those “fake-it till you make-it situations).
        However, I have always known that I am not, and never will be perfect, so making mistakes and failing (lots) is something I don’t worry about so much.

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      • Believe it or not, Business-Speak, a language I’ve had to learn over the years, has helped me become more optimistic. When you must not complain but offer solutions, when the idea of poor performance is replaced by opportunity for improvement, optimism wins out. Which I guess is the main reason for speaking that way.

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  2. I see the blank screen as a challenge. A challenge that I will do my best to fill in with words that others will enjoy and maybe comment on. Sometimes the blank screen will win the challenge and I press the minimise button so it disappears into the corner of my device, only allowd to come back when newer words come to visit and place themselves in that blank space. Hopefully they will stay and I will win the challenge.

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  3. Oh god! The Blank Screen!

    Sometimes I just can’t handle it and revert to the Blank Page. Even if what I hand-write is nonsense that I scratch out, the scratched-out bits take up space and it makes me feel ever-so-slightly more productive than just deleting back to a blank page. (It’s how I trick myself into quantity, if not quality.) 😉

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    • You’re right. Leaving behind a bunch of handwritten scratch-outs is much better than deleting back to white. Plus, handwriting activates those synaptical thingies in the brain more than typing, or so I recall from a psych class.

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  4. Word counts are worse than the blank screen: sometimes, you’ve just got to get down to it. I once did an article for a German publisher and they had a character count, not a word count. Now that’s what I call efficiency!

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      • It’s true! When I lived in Germany (in Cologne), people would actually wait for the traffic lights to turn green before crossing the road even if it was the middle of the night and there were no cars anywhere.

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      • I could never get by over there, then. My natural desire to respect authority would be in such conflict with my impatience to wait for the green light in the middle of the night that my head would melt.

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  5. I somewhat like the blank screen. So much potential for all that stuff I can’t think of. It’s the potential that maybe something good could emerge. It’s the idea that something already exists that hasn’t been created yet. Sometimes I leave it blank because it’s pretty that way and I don’t want to screw it up.

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