Blank = Possibility

Naomi Hawkins-Rowe

Naomi Hawkins-Rowe

“We start with a blank: a world of possibility.”

These words are not my own; they belong to Peter Turchi. I came across them the other day while I searched through my notes in old journals looking for a solution to a plot conundrum. The quote, which is from his book Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer, had been written on a Post It and stuck in a journal, and I can’t help but feel that finding it was serendipitous.

I think we often view “the blank” solely as the white page with the cursor blinking. But we stare at the blank page because we either have no clue where to start/go next, or we feel bogged down by several choices and the fear that if we choose the wrong path we will have wasted precious writing time and will need to tread backwards to fix it. Both can be paralyzing.

But what if we changed how we saw the blank page? What if we saw our moments of indecision as opportunities to get to know our characters? What if we stepped away from our devices, put our pens down and let go of the knuckle-white grip we hold on our stories and the characters we are “creating” and meditated on the white? I wonder if we would begin to see things we didn’t know were there under the surface? If we let our characters speak to us, I wonder what they would say?

For me, Turchi’s words glow like a neon sign guiding me back to the belief that writing is a never-ending trail of discoveries. I won’t pretend to have figured out my current conundrum, but I am listening with a renewed fervor and reminder that “a blank” still equals possibility.

4 responses to “Blank = Possibility

  1. Megan Norris Jones

    Thanks for those words of encouragement, Naomi. I have been going through a period of discovery with my current story that is both exhilarating and exhausting. I am thrilled with each new breakthrough but discouraged that–after so much work–I still don’t have my story nailed down. I’m glad you reminded me to savor the moment of possibility.

  2. Next time I’m having one of those blank page moments, I’ll try to view it as an opportunity and see if that helps. It can’t hurt 🙂

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