Katia Raina

The Magic Mirror

Blank Page Fears

Twyla Tharp's Creative HabitI am re-reading a wonderful book, The Creative Habit, by Twyla Tharp, a dancer and a choreographer. The book aims to help artists of any kind take control of their routine (so that within their writing hours, they can surrender to their art even more effectively). In the very first chapter Ms. Tharp talks about facing down fears. Here is an example of a common fear she gives, then destroys with a simple argument:

The fear: “I am not sure how to do it”

Twyla Tharp’s reply: “A problem, obviously, but we’re not talking about constructing the Brooklyn Bridge. If you try it and it doesn’t work you’ll try a different way next time. Doing is better than not doing, and if you do something badly you’ll learn to do it better.”

So obvious, but how many of us need that gentle reminder?

So now, my turn. On to my own fears. Currently, I have a very short list (which is a great improvement!). I present it to you, below, along with my own rebuttals.

When facing the blank page, I am afraid that:

1. It won’t come out well

It might not. But at least what does come out will clue me in to where a problem might lie. At least it’ll get me thinking. It’s like playing a song on the piano, when suddenly a note sounds false. So I go back to that spot. So I play around. What’s so terrible about that?

2. My advisor won’t like it

Then she’ll tell me so . Also, she’ll tell me why. Likely, she’ll toss in a brilliant suggestion for another fun writing exercise. (I have recently fallen in LOVE with writing exercises).

3. I’ll never get published

This piece might not get published. But the next one might. Or the one after that…Or the one after that…

What monsters lurk invisible behind your blank pages? And how would you argue with your fears?

If you don’t feel comfortable sharing, consider answering these questions for yourself!


October 1, 2013 - Posted by | VCFA Adventures, Writing Mirror


  1. I have such a fear of rejection, I do not submit nearly as often as I should. I am getting over it, though.

    Comment by Rosi | October 1, 2013 | Reply

    • Rosi, when fear of rejection gets too much, here is a little something to remember from J.R.R. Tolkien: “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door.” 🙂 This probably speaks to just about any other fear, now that I think of it.

      Comment by Katia Raina | October 2, 2013 | Reply

  2. I think the only thing I fear, when it comes to writing, is taking on something that’s beyond my capabilities (the very complex novel series I want to write) or what my life will allow. Doesn’t mean I still don’t plan on tackling it 😀 We usually surprise ourselves, I think. The biggest thing that annoys me, and isn’t a fear, is feeling like I’m wasting too much time. Generally, I’ve learned that it’s all been part of the learning process—every time I try something one way or another, and it doesn’t work. It’s all fine when I’m not under pressure for a deadline, or feel a sense of urgency. When writing at my leisure, I have no problem with it 🙂

    We need to just WRITE! 🙂 Enjoy the journey! I hope I find the time soon 🙂

    Comment by writersideup | October 2, 2013 | Reply

    • Sounds like you’re nearly fearless then!

      Comment by Katia Raina | October 2, 2013 | Reply

      • lol…well, I don’t think I’d go THAT far! But over the years, through experience, I went from “ridiculously nervous” and “ignorantly hopeful” when first meeting for agent or editor critiques, to “probably not” and “I’ll just keep plugging.” I’ve also become friendly with enough people in the industry and have a better understanding of it, overall, that fear is not the issue. If anything, it’s simple frustration. Really, what’s the worst that can happen? I generally feel confident enough that my work has quality, then I may hear something that points out its flaws or a weakness I may have or something that can indicate what’s holding back success—either that or it’s simply not the right people connecting with my type work. I’m not overly confident, but confident enough not to fear, at least when it comes to putting my work out there. Of course, we’re not talking about public speaking. THAT is a totally different issue! lol

        Comment by writersideup | October 3, 2013

  3. I have a fear of finishing a project and then wondering “what next?” Sometimes when I’m behind on a project, I feel that fear deep down. I think about the rewrites, querying, and rejection.

    Comment by Medeia Sharif | October 2, 2013 | Reply

    • Ha! You have a fear of finishing? I have a fear of NEVER finishing… 🙂 One thing that helps (and I’m sure you know) is taking it one step at a time.

      Comment by Katia Raina | October 2, 2013 | Reply

  4. Have all your fears and more. Always cimparing myself to other poets who are just wonderful. Sometimes it’s easier not to write than to take the heat. Appreciate your comments and honesty,
    Kathy Santangelo

    Comment by Kathy Santangelo | October 2, 2013 | Reply

    • Thank you, Kathy. I know, right? Here is to taking the heat! Cheers!

      Comment by Katia Raina | October 2, 2013 | Reply

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