The Cure for the Blank Page

A.K.A. The Case for an Editorial Calendar

I’ve struggled with what to write here lately.

I’m not sure if you can tell from my writing, but, full disclosure, I’ve been writing a lot of these blog posts on the day I publish them. Each piece gets written once and that’s about it. Sometimes a post will get a second look over as I’m publishing it to make sure that it all looks good on the screen but that’s about as far as it goes.

I apologize. It doesn’t make for very good writing. You deserve better than that.

I think there are 2 things that I’ve been missing lately which has caused this to happen.

A Time and Place

The first is a designated time and place for writing every day. I just don’t make the time on a regular basis to sit down and write. Doing all my writing on the day that the post needs to go up means that what you end up reading is a glorified first draft. And we all know that we’re supposed to write crappy first drafts and then make it better from there.

You shouldn’t be reading first drafts. You should be reading third or fourth drafts. Ideas that have been written about, and then written about again, and then clarified and written about again. The editing process is where the writing should come alive. You’ve just been getting the undead, zombie-like first draft version. The version that no one should ever read. Again, I apologize.

An Editorial Calendar

The second thing that I’ve been missing is an editorial calendar. This is something that tells me what to write about on any given week. It can be as simple as a list of topics and when they will get published. It doesn’t have to be hard to create or extremely detailed. It just takes setting aside a little time. When you’re done, you’ll be all prepped with ideas for what to write when you need them.

I feel like one of the problems I have is that when I sit down to write I don’t have much to say. Or maybe it’s too much to say. Without a plan, the whole world of options is available to me and it’s overwhelming. What’s the one thing that I want to pass along this week? Out of all the things I could write about, what is the one nugget of information that I feel like would be beneficial to write about for my readers this week? Picking out just one thing to pass along is hard so I tend to end up just staring at the blank screen not knowing where to start. The cursor taunting me as it blinks away. On, off, on, off. And since I’ve waited until the day the post is due I now have the anxiety and pressure of having to come up with something, anything, that might be even a little bit compelling.

An editorial calendar would solve all of that. Deciding ahead of time what I am going to write about every week means that I don’t have to think about it. There is no question what I will write about during my writing time on any given day. Since I already have a topic, all I have to do is to sit down and write.

This could work for you too. If you have a creative pursuit (hint: it doesn’t have to be writing) and you’re struggling with what to do at any given time, maybe try giving yourself a head start. Decide ahead of time what you will work on in your creative time. It may just be the boost you need to jump start your creative juices and save you from the dreaded “blank page” of your creative endeavor.

Also, if you’re struggling for ideas, check out this video by Sean McCabe: 5 Months of Content in 5 Minutes.