Thursday, November 07, 2013

The Dreaded Blank Screen




“Writers write.”
I don’t know who said this first, but it’s a good quote. Brief and to the point. Since I started writing in earnest back in 2008, and especially since I started writing fulltime in 2010, these 2 words have popped into my head on countless occasions.
Usually when they do, I’m staring at a blank screen on my laptop.Dans published books - various editions
The above picture shows a fairly wide stack of books (21 in all) sitting on top of a hutch in the foyer by my front door. My wife put them there. They are various editions of my 9 published novels (paperback, hardback, book club and large print editions, foreign language editions, etc.), starting with The Unfinished Gift on the left, which came out in 2009. 
I see this image almost every day as I come in and go out of my house. Some might view such a display as a “trophy shelf,” but that’s not the effect it has on me. When I see it, I marvel at the goodness of God allowing me to do something I love, and that so many people enjoy reading my books.
I marvel at something else...where in the world did all these words come from? I think back to the moment after I finished that first novel and remember my editor asking if I had any other book ideas. The Unfinished Gift cover - avg res
I did not.
I never expected this book to get picked up so fast and figured I had years to come up with a second. As I pondered her question, it dawned on me that I’d been thinking about a possible love story which lingered in my mind at the end of The Unfinished Gift. She suggested I start writing it.
Some months later, I finished writing The Homecoming. She asked if I had any other book ideas? I didn’t. Not a single one. She suggested I think and pray about it, because they wanted to keep this going.
A few weeks later, as I sat watching a show on The History Channel, the idea for The Deepest Waters entered my mind. I jotted down a synopsis and pitched it to them, and they wanted to buy it. But now, they wanted to make it a 3-book deal. Could I come up with 2 more book ideas? To be honest, I was a little frightened by the prospect. How could I commit to writing this new book and 2 other books when I didn't even have a clue what they’d be about? But my editor and agent both felt confident these ideas would come, and that I could pull this off.
The reason? They firmly believed I was a writer and…Writer’s Write.
And they were right. Soon, the ideas for Remembering Christmas and The Discovery came to me. Eighteen months later, all 3 books were written. Since then, I've written 6 more novels (2 aren't out yet) and I have 2 more books on contract. Sometime in the spring, I plan to negotiate a new contract for 4-5 new book ideas, which I've already roughed out.
Some who've interviewed me call me “prolific.” I almost laugh when I hear this, because I’m more aware of all these moments when I had absolutely no ideas in my head. Even since I started writing full-time, it’s fair to say that more often than not, my writing day begins with me staring at a blank screen, wondering what the heck I’m going to write.
At least now I know something I didn’t know at the beginning. Writers Write. I don’t have to sit around waiting for incredible bursts of inspiration. I just start writing. Word after word, line after line, page after page.
Sometimes it feels a little bit like walking on water. But I’ve learned something else…the God who called me to get out of the boat in the first place is out here with me. And really, it’s His power, creativity and strength that started this adventure and keeps it moving forward.
So how about you? Can you relate to any of this? Tell me some of the more interesting writing moments you’ve experienced that came after staring at a blank screen.
Dan Walsh is the bestselling author of 9 novels, including The Unfinished Gift, Remembering Christmas and The Dance. He has won 3 Carol Awards and 2 Selah Awards. Six of his books have been Top Picks on RT Reviews. Two were finalists for Inspirational Book of the Year. Dan is a member of ACFW and Word Weavers. He lives with his wife, Cindi, in the Daytona Beach area where they love to take long walks. To connect with Dan or check out his books, go to:http://danwalshbooks.com

2 comments:

Nicole said...

This is really a tribute to your obedience, Dan. God inspires, you wait and write. I take too long to write between the spaces. I need prayer!

Keep going - it's working. ;)

Dan Walsh said...

Thanks Nicole. I do find myself less anxious about the "blank screen" than I was at the beginning.