That Big Blank Screen: A Writer’s Nightmare

The first time I was requested to write a set of articles, I was very excited. I believed I had a lot to say and I did! I churned out articles daily with no problem, keeping in mind the parameters that the client required. When I read articles I’ve written 5 years ago, I can feel the exuberance and energy leap out of the page. When I compare it to my  recent articles, the difference is obvious.

What happened? 3 years ago I became an in-house copyeditor and my attitude towards writing altered drastically. I was proofreading and polishing articles daily and I loved everything about it. During that period I rarely wrote except for the one or two random writing requests, and writing content for my site which was seldom.

“Write drunk, edit sober.” This is easier when your writing is  edited by someone else or when you edit another person’s work. Having an editor is good because you can immediately dive into the act of writing. Editing someone else’s work is great, if you’re doing it professionally. That’s why I sometimes cringe if a friend asks me to edit her web content,  thesis or publication. A lot hinges on the delicacy of delivering points for improvement.

I found myself freezing every time I tried to write. The copyeditor monster got to me first. I would create an outline, and deviate from it. I found myself writing a sentence and editing it right away. Whole paragraphs and even whole articles got deleted. I was starting over and over again needlessly. I hated the big blank screen that was Microsoft word document. Oh things got done eventually and ‘I always beat deadlines, but the joy of writing wasn’t there. It was a chore.

The discipline editing brings effectively plunked the writer in a straightjacket. It was not so much as finding what to write about, but going about it. My writing became stale, generic, SEO optimized, the word choice dumbed down,  and terribly boring to my eyes. Would I read what I’ve written? Yes. But would I enjoy reading it? The thing is, writing should grow and improve as time goes, not digress into blandness and obscurity.

Wouldn’t it be perfect if I can break free from the confines of the editor breathing down my neck? I tell you now I’m itching to edit this post! Was there a time in your life you doubted your ability to write? What happened?

2 thoughts on “That Big Blank Screen: A Writer’s Nightmare

  1. No matter how good I think I am at copy edit others it is always best to let someone edit read my stuff because I always miss something as often the mind sees what it wants to or expects not what is actually typed. Thanks visit my blog.


  2. I enjoy visiting your blog, Carl. especially when the day seems to drag. makes me smile 🙂 I’m bad at editing my work too, all my posts here are unedited btw..I will get to them in the future, for now I jsut want to let the words flow.


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