Fear of the blank page. Fear of starting a new notebook (or journal, call it whatever you want). We’ve all been there, we’ve all had it, and yeah, it’s annoying when it happens. It wouldn’t say that it’s as much of a wall as “writer’s block” – fear of the blank page is more… A stalling point. To be honest, I think writer’s block is more of a stalling block than a brick wall too.
First thing’s first. Take your notebook out of any packaging it’s in, if any. That will help. Flick through your notebook, flatten the covers onto your desk or kitchen table or whichever surface you use.. If you have a spiral bound notebook, flip the covers right around to the back a few times to separate the spirals a bit (sometimes they can get a little squashed together). Flick through the pages, flatten those out too. Find the middle of your notebook and flatten it out from there.
Now, for the first marks on the pages. The following is what I do, so you can take what I do and do the same or, take the ideas and run with them. Reverse them, if you like, take them and use them for inspiration. I like to leave the first page for a contents page and then I start using the notebook on the next. If you don’t want to use the first page as a contents page; if you have no use for a contents page, then you could always use the first page as a pen or an ink test page. Or, the very last page in your book can be an ink testing page. Either works. Paper can be a little unpredictable after all. If contents pages and ink tests pages aren’t of any use to you, then maybe you can write a quote on your first page. Or even a start date and end date of this particular notebook.
Speaking of dates… Once you’ve gotten through the very first page of your notebook, things can go two ways; you will either not have a problem using the next page (in which case, yay!) or you will run into the “blank page problem” again. In which case… Date the page. Always date your pages. Or your pieces. Always. Write a title or a working title if you have one. Write out the prompt you’re using, if you’re using one. If you’re not using one, and you can’t get started, write a stream of consciousness. Do it in pencil, if you’re not sure, and switch to pen when you start getting into it. You can then rub it out later and/or write over it (though I don’t recommend doing those things, it would be like throwing away something that you’ve written and I’ve been taught never to do that. Ever.) Normally though, just writing the date and a working title helps me out if I have a “blank page problem” moment after the contents page.
Finally; you are allowed to write crap the first time. That’s what editing is for. Give yourself that permission. You can write it down, or say it out loud, or just repeat it in your head. Once you get this thought ingrained, then… I think you might have less “blank page problems” – at least, this is what happened for/to me. I hope it does for you as well.