Elle a la hantise de la page blanche.

Elle a la hantise de la page blanche.

ell lah lah ah-teez duh lah pahzh BLAHSH. Click below to hear this.

She has writer’s block.

Writer’s block is bad enough. You feel as if someone has built an impossibly tall brick wall around your brain. There is stuff in your brain, but it can’t get out.

It’s even scarier in French. La hantise means the haunting. The page blanche (the white/blank page) is your nemesis. It follows you, beleaguers you, harasses you, taunts you in your sleep like a ghost. Sounds like a bad Halloween movie, doesn’t it?

That’s why so many writers have rituals they perform before sitting down to write. Whether it’s lining up pencils in a precise, straight line, wearing a favorite sweater, opening up computer programs in a certain order, or waiting for the stars to be aligned, they are practicing a form of magic.

The purpose is not just to chase away the paralysis that the page blanche may inflict, the fear of spoiling the lovely pristine surface before you. It’s also that you will be shamed by spoiling it with your unworthiness, that you will write junk. Much has been written about silencing the “inner editor”. Sometimes it feels more like the inner executioner.

Which is why I like writing on the computer. I love brand-new notebooks and smooth-gliding pens, but they don’t have a DELETE button. Let the ghosts go haunt someone else; I’ll stick to my BlackBerry.


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