Don’t let the blank page intimidate you

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Facing a blank page is like stage fright without seeing the audience—maybe the most intimidating experience we can have. It’s intimidating because someone will read whatever we put on that blank page, and they will pass judgment. We’re putting ourselves out there.

When I began my internship at WordRake, my audience was Gary Kinder, WordRake’s founder and my editor. Gary was a New York Times bestselling author, and I was an 18-year-old college freshman. I drafted emails ten times before I sent them.

The blank page paralyzes everyone

Gary still edits my writing, and I still feel nervous when I send him work to review. But I asked him one day if he feels intimidated by the blank page, and he said, “Always. It never goes away. What gets easier is that you know you will get beyond it.”

Fear is a universal part of the human experience, and overcoming it is a process. We’ve talked about writing and time management before, and one key time management strategy is to write the first draft with little regard for grammar and spelling, or even making sense. Who cares if we make a mistake? No one else will see it. The important thing is to toss the ideas down and see what shape they’re taking. Now, we’re no longer staring at a blank page. The biggest stressor is gone, and we are free to refine successive drafts.

We all can improve

The first time Gary sent me an email with a typo in it, I was surprised, then relieved. His mistake made me less paranoid and served as maybe the most valuable writing lesson of all: Everyone makes mistakes. We improve as we write and receive feedback, which can come through human editors like Gary and editing and proofreading software like WordRake. After two years interning, and now working at WordRake full time, I finally realized that Gary has spent decades refining his writing, but I haven’t. So the more I write, the better I become. And the less intimidated I am by that blank page. It helps to work at a company that creates software to move us beyond the fear and toward more effective writing. When I summarize that in one word, the word is confidence.

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About Gary Kinder

Gary Kinder
Gary Kinder has taught over 1,000 writing programs for the American Bar Association, the Social Security Administration, PG&E, Kraft, Microsoft, and law firms like Jones Day, Sidley, and WilmerHale. His critically-acclaimed Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea hit #7 on the New York Times Bestsellers List.

In 2012, Gary and his team of engineers created WordRake editing software to provide writers a full-time, reliable editor; to save them time and money; and to give them the confidence their writing is as clear and concise as they can make it. The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office has awarded nine patents to WordRake's unique technology, and Harvard Law School has recognized WordRake as "Disruptive Innovation."