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How to Overcome Fear of the Blank Page

Kate Mara as Zoe Barnes in House of Cards

“Creativity is always a leap of faith. You’re faced with a blank page, blank easel, or an empty stage.” Julia Cameron

How does writing fear affect you? How do you respond to a blank page as a creator?

Choreographer Twyla Tharp said “The blank space can be humbling. But I’ve faced it my whole professional life. It’s my job. It’s also my calling.”

She writes more about the challenges of this “blank space” or “blank page” experience that most artists have to face in her book The Creative Habit.

You can see more of her quotes and a video on her book in my post Twyla Tharp on How To Be Creative.

Writer Lisa Unger has expressed a very positive attitude about it: “I live for the blank page.” With 14 novels, she certainly has the experience.

But what if you feel more intimidated and fearful than excited about starting on a creative venture?

Writing anxiety such as writer’s block can be fueled by self-talk and emotional habits such as responding to a blank page the same way you have in the past.

Author and writing coach Christine Kloser, host of The Transformational Author Experience, quotes some of her students about this experience:

“I have general feeling of anxiety when I sit down and open up that blank page.”

“I feel like I can’t keep excitement in my stories.”

“I keep asking myself is this good enough.”

“I don’t think have anything new or valuable to share, although I know my experience has been profound.”

Kloser points out there may be a fear of writing some kinds of material:

“Sometimes what you write will make you cry and a few of you write me about how you have this fear of the emotions that the writing brings up.

“You’re writing about perhaps some clearing some things that had happened in the past that were really painful to go through and the releasing of them on the page for the purpose of serving your reader through those same, narrow paths.”

Preparing for the meeting with the blank page

Kloser thinks there is a value, even necessity, for preparing ourself internally, and thinking of this as a “meeting, and it is a meeting with the blank page when you get there – it is not just, Oh, this is something I have to do…

“Sitting with a blank page is like meeting with a dear friend. It’s like meeting with someone who you love, care about, and who you want the best for.

“When you sit down to the blank page, it is not the cold, stark, distant, scary, vast nothingness. It is a meeting, a meeting of souls, a meeting with a loved one, a meeting with someone you cared about and you have something to communicate to.”

Begin with quiet

She has interviewed some of the bestselling authors in the world, and says, “In my experience most of them, I can’t say all, but I can say a good portion of them begin their writing with quiet first.

“They begin their writing not in the chatter, not in the pressure, not in the fear, not in the self doubt. They begin the writing actually in the quiet, in the question, in the opening to what it is that wants to come through you.”

Read much more in her free ebook How to Face the Blank Page with Confidence, Clarity and Courage.

She is also editor of a book series with interviews of transformational authors from around the world: Pebbles in the Pond.

Here is a short video with Christine Kloser:

Learn more about her free webinar: Get Your Book Done.

[Photo: reporter Zoe Barnes (played by Kate Mara), from my page Programs for Authors and Writer Entrepreneurs.]


How to Overcome Fear of the Blank Page

Douglas Eby

Douglas EbyDouglas Eby, MA/Psychology, is a writer and researcher on psychology and personal development related to creativity; creator of the , and author of books including [link to book site with excerpts.]
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APA Reference
Eby, D. (2016). How to Overcome Fear of the Blank Page. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 30, 2020, from


Last updated: 7 Apr 2016
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