The Procrastinating Page

A blank page: I sit, I stare. Fifteen minutes goes by, still nothing but a blinking cursor.

I pick up a pen and fiddle with it. I open and close a stapler perhaps a hundred times wondering why I hang on to things I have long since stopped using. Then I spin in circles in my desk chair. If there was someone other than me around I might challenge them to a chair race. But there is no one around but me. So I sit, I stare, another fifteen minutes go by.

I consider turning on the television in another room. Maybe a little background noise will distract me from the silence I once treasured. Wait, was that an incoming email I heard from my smartphone. I better check, might be that agent I queried, you know the single agent that you painstakingly picked to be the first one to query. The one that you will most likely receive the first rejection from if she bothers to respond to your query at all because she has received 50 queries a day or more for the last few weeks and while rushing to get yours out you left something off. I shake my head as I check the email, another advertisement, nothing more.

Over the course of my life, I have filled blank pages with tens of millions of characters, millions of words. My first novel was 527 pages when I first thought I had finished it. After much debate and listening and reading what other authors, editors and agents had to say it is still considered a works-in-progress at around 350 pages. It wasn't easy shaving off that much work, but if you think a first draft is a completed work, you still have a lot to learn.

My second book, the one I am working on now currently clocks in at around 40,000 words. I am shooting for a printed 100-page novella and getting close to an ending. But there will still be a lot of work to do even after this draft is completed. I just realized this page is getting filled, words are flowing, keys are being pressed. I might make that 500-word blog post yet. Then the moment's gone; do I have anything left to say?

Perhaps a change of scenery, so I pick up my tablet with its keyboard case and step outside in the warm sun. I sit down in a folding chair and soon realize I am watching the birds more than the partially completed blog post. Maybe something to eat, or a brief walk; it's difficult to write while doing either. I have almost decided the blank page should be called the procrastinating page. (As if it's really the page's fault.)

The blank page can stare you down longer than a crazed mountain lion. But remember: you can reach a lot more minds with what you put on that blank page than you ever will with spoken words.

With my blog post now complete, I realize I never knew procrastinating to be so fruitful.