The Blank Page Can Suck It
The other day I wrote about The Process you can find it here. It got me to thinking and wondering, back off, I CAN do both, back to a college creative writing class where the prof had us write to fill a blank page.
This was a time when electronic notebooks were not even a thought. It was when iPads, cell phones, MacBooks, laptops, and personal assistants weren’t brought to class because, well, they didn’t exist. In fact, a notebook still consisted of college-ruled white sheets of paper.
And we used pens and pencils.
Wait. Guess those are still in play.
Back to the class.
Yes, a blank piece of paper to fill in one hour. He might as well had me explain the theory of relativity. Or offer an understanding of Peace and War.
This is where I’ll tell you that creative writing is not about filling a blank sheet. That notion is invariably WRONG.
Creative writing is finding realism within the things in ones environment. Seeing the color red as more than blood. Seeing the sun as more than a lifeline of existence. Seeing people of every size, shape, and color and knowing there’s a story there. Creative writing is knowing there’s a story in everything and anything all at once. It’s so much more than allowing yourself the freedom to write whatever with reckless abandon. It’s making the unreal real. Making the non-existent exist. It’s taking something meaningless and minuscule and fabricating it into a morphing giant. It’s the power inside all of us just waiting to be dragged out by its gnarly hair.
It is not, however, asking a teenager or anyone to fill a single sheet in an hour. That, well, that’s just pure torture. Sure there’s writing prompts and whatever other bullshit we can use to break out of doldrums, valleys in Writersville, or bleak spots in Inkcity. And yes, they may or may not work.
But filling a blank page in a small amount of time is not creative writing.
While it’s creative, it’s not goddamn improv. You’re not in front of fifty drooling humans demanding a story while paying ten bucks for a drink.
Creative writing takes time. Stories take time. Sure, this shit is made up, but hey, we research a lot of stuff to get the details right. And details can make stories great.