20 ways to help you beat the blank page by Joy Lenton

There it sits - blank, clean, virgin-white - a new page on which to write. A fresh start. New work waiting to be expressed. So why does my heart palpate, find the blankness icily chilling instead of inviting? It's such a small thing to halt a writer with hesitation.

All those what-ifs scream out our previous failures - ink-blotted scribbles, deficient daubs, lackadaisical prose and inability to colour well within the lines of art.

It must be overcome, of course, or we would never start our potential masterpiece, beguiling blog post, pretty poetry, or just our everyday ordinary showing up to offer a faithful labour of love at the altar of creativity.

All art begins with a mark. all creativity invites us to start with something. So where to begin to leave our mark when a mind feels bereft of thought? It's a dilemma whether we're staring at a blank screen or pristine page. Fear of making a mess can stop us in our tracks, because who wants to screw up before we've barely begun? Not me, probably not you, either.

I'm sharing what helped me after I took a prolonged break and feared I might never write another word. I began with recognising the limiters on leaving a mark. Mine were: fatigue, false expectations, life circumstances, poor self-esteem, people-approval issues, loss of confidence. Maybe some of those resonate with you?

Once we start to transfer words to a page, make a list or frame an image in our head, then we begin to stir those latent creative juices again. What begins as an act of faith becomes a work in progress.

Words beget words. Lines sweep into form. Colour bleeds and blends. Art is taking shape...and we can always set it aside for a while, strike through, erase, draw circles around potentially usable stuff and learn as we go.

Here are 20 ways to help you beat the blank page

  1. Pray, pray and pray again - be inspired by God first and foremost
  2. Write morning/evening pages, or whenever you get uninterrupted time
  3. Use a journal/diary/sketch pad/doodling or crayoning book
  4. Have all necessary materials to hand - including coffee/chocolate/cake
  5. Jot random ideas in a notepad whenever a creative thought occurs
  6. Use prompts from books/films/blogs/all creative resources
  7. Do a brain-dump/plan in advance for important projects
  8. Switch off distractions as far as possible - especially social media
  9. Make your environment conducive to creativity
  10. Use aids to concentration - music/silence/rest/imagery/black coffee
  11. Avoid making comparisons altogether - you and your art are unique
  12. Stay true to the gifting you have while being willing to experiment
  13. Be prepared to be stretched outside your comfort zone
  14. Take a break - go outside/breathe/stretch/have a walk/nap/read/watch TV
  15. Attempt a new genre/style/method to jar inspiration back to life
  16. Use disengaged moments as unpressurised free-thinking time
  17. Read lots of books - be inspired by them and fellow creatives
  18. Seek individual mentoring or group support - there's strength in numbers
  19. Establish daily rhythms and routine but don't worry if it's a dry season
  20. Be prepared for low spells and high productivity to be part of a creative life
Thankfully, no matter how today may have turned out, God continually offers us a blank page fresh start, an opportunity to begin again by His grace. And maybe the best way to view our own blank pages and days is as openings and invitations rather than dead ends. 

Sometimes we just have to trust art and words will flow when they're ready to come, and continue nurturing our souls while we wait. Happy writing and creating, friends! 

Joy Lenton is a grateful grace dweller, contemplative Christian writer, poet and blogger, author of 'Seeking Solace: Discovering grace in life's hard places'

She enjoys encouraging others on their journey of life and faith at her blogs wordsofjoy.me and poetryjoy.com as she seeks to discover the poetic in the prosaic and the eternal in the temporal. 

You can connect with her on Twitter and on Facebook.


  1. Thank you, Joy. This comes just as I am thinking about my own writing priorities. Sue

  2. You're welcome, Sue! I love to share the things that help me with life and writing. Though each person's priorities will be a bit different. May you gain fresh insight into what will be applicable for you. :)

  3. Dear Joy, Thank you for being one of those who have encouraged me to keep on being stretched! Because as I have persevered through this process, I am finding this so true: "What begins as an act of faith becomes a work in progress." May God Bless you as you are an encourager to so many!

    1. Dear Bettie, I'm in awe of the way you have yielded to the stretching, especially during this particularly challenging month. It's been a joy to watch your work flourish as you write more frequently. I love how the Lord is leading you into new avenues. Blessed to walk beside you, dear friend! xo

  4. One of the best things I think I have read on this subject . Thank you

    1. Thank you, Lesley! I'm so pleased you found something useful here. May you write bold and free as you continue to beat the fear of a blank page. Bless you, friend.

  5. Really practical and inspiring post. Thank you Joy!

    1. Thanks, Deborah! I'm glad you found this useful. Bless you. xo

  6. This is very helpful, Joy, but one thing: I doubt if your heart ever 'palpated', since this refers to a doctor feeling part of you for a diagnosis. I'm sure you really mean 'palpitate'. Important for us writers to get our words right! (especially as nothing seems to get copy edited these days...)

    1. Oops.. sorry about that! I've been writing a post each day this month, so I think fatigue must have got the better of me again. I meant to add "perfectionism" to my list of limiters but it looks like I'm less worried about it than I thought. Well spotted, Veronica. :)


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