You wake up in an empty white room.

You immediately recognize the cliche, but are powerless to do anything about it.

Many stories written for Introduction to Creative Writing classes start with something white (a room, a wall, the sky, a face, etc.) because the writer sits there staring at a blank piece of paper or computer screen and eventually grabs for the dominant sensory inspiration. You know this because many writing teachers have warned you not to start a story exactly like this.

Come to think of it, though, you can’t remember a story that actually begins in a blank white room. Probably because the creative writing teachers have been passing this piece of wisdom on for a while. But that doesn’t change the fact that you are now presumably in a story (a dangerous place to be under the best of circumstances) that starts with a featureless room, without furniture or door.

There’s only one thing to do in a situation like this. “Appeal to the narrator?” you ask out loud.

Talking to yourself won’t help.

“Make me a door,” you say and stamp your foot. Nothing happens and so you stand there and huff. Because of the even light coming from nowhere in particular and no visible seam where walls meet the ceiling or floor, the dimensions of the room could be anything at all. It might not even be a room. It could be that you’re standing in a vast plain that stretches into infinity.

“That isn’t helpful!” you shout. “I refuse to participate in this story!”

Alright, fine! You may go now. There’s a door.

And with that, you (or You) leave. We’re alone, now.

This is the first blog post I’ve written in a while and I chose the worst trope I could think of because writing anything lately has been difficult. Rough drafts in particular. It’s been months since I’ve been able to crank out a story that I find palatable. I find myself sitting and staring at the page or the screen wondering what to write and immediately vetoing any idea that comes to mind.

It seems like most of my writer friends are having this problem. lately. It seems like we’ve collectively reached a point where we know more about what not to do than how to get started. Instead of writing, I just make lists of all the things I shouldn’t write. So, whenever I do manage to get a few words out, I can’t get over how awful they are. But without more material, without actually going through the motions and committing something to the page, I’m left with little. That isn’t very good anyway.

Writer’s block has never been this bad before. But I’ve resolved to finish this and publish it. I need habits, not excuses.

… To be honest, I’ve always wanted to start a story in a empty white room. Have you ever read Harold and the Purple Crayon? It begins in a void and from it the protagonist makes a universe. The same as pretty much everything anyone has ever made, really.



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