You Can’t Edit a Blank Page


“I don’t believe in writer’s block. Think about it — when you were blocked in college and had to write a paper, didn’t it always manage to fix itself the night before the paper was due? Writer’s block is having too much time on your hands. If you have a limited amount of time to write, you just sit down and do it. You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”

-Jodi Picoult

That last part of Jodi’s advice is critical.  We never think of writing like that.  So many times, when we are lacking inspiration, we think, “What’s the point?  I’m going to write this scene, or this blog post, and it will be crap.  Why write, when it’s going to be worth nothing?”

I’ve done that SO many times.

The problem with being a writer is that you eventually become a perfectionist.  And when you become a perfectionist, you, well, want everything to be perfect.  After writing for so many years, there have been those times when we have enjoyed the sweet taste of perfect writing.  We remember the feeling of being able to pour everything out onto the page with perfect clarity and drive, knowing exactly what we want to say and how to say it.

So, what do we do when we aren’t in that state of “perfect” inspiration?

We don’t write.

Because it won’t be perfect.  And we, as writers, are perfectionists.

And we need to get over this.  Right.  Now.

Because you can’t edit a blank page.

If you never write at all, then you will have accomplished NOTHING.  There won’t be any perfection, because you weren’t willing to put up with imperfection.

There’s something beautiful about writing; namely, it’s a battle for purity.  Purity which stems from a desire for reaching something greater, something higher, something that we all dream of.  Our culture seriously lacks this desire for purity, for perfection.  Because we’re so used to settling for less.  In regards to our jobs, our relationships, our bad habits.  We never try to rise above imperfection.

I think it’s beautiful that we, as writers, are striving for perfection.

But first, we have to work on our imperfections.  However, you can’t work on imperfections if you don’t let them out first.

So write.  Write a bad page.  You can always edit it.  You can always make yourself stronger through it.  Don’t wait for inspiration; don’t wait for perfection.  Go make it happen.  Go get it.


What do you think?

6 thoughts on “You Can’t Edit a Blank Page”

  1. This is so true. No writer’s block for me just laziness, I guess. I believe I sometimes amaze myself when I hold a pen and jot down my thoughts and everything starts to flow. I cannot stop and before I know it I have written two-three pages of what happened in my day and my thoughts about a report I reviewed or the book I just read. Anyone who likes to write just needs to write the first word down and soon paragraphs will be made.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow! I’ve never been much of a “thought” writer. I’ve always tried to confine everything to writing my stories, otherwise I considered it a waste of time. But I have heard that just writing down your thoughts is a great way to trump writer’s block.

      Your last sentence is so true! I once wrote a post about how if you can write ONE sentence, then you can write a whole page.


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