by Joe Torres
The cursor … the cursor … oh, you accusatory little blip. How I hate thee. And yet I love that blinking little motivator. It’s almost like it’s saying, “Hey, hey, you should … be working … hey, hey you!” And really it’s not work – doing something you thoroughly enjoy isn’t work.
There’s an old adage about it, something about teaching a man to fish and he never works a day in his life with two in the bush and some sinking ships. And then the cursor brings along his judgmental friend, the blank screen. Now the blank screen, this is a whole other level of challenge. It’s part exhilaration, part fear, and part disappointment. The blank screen is unflinching; it begs to be filled, but still seems to challenge you, as if to say, “Tame me if you can.”
It’s a challenge to sit in front of this deadly duo and not feel slightly ashamed when, night after night, you sit and stare. I often find myself thinking, What now? What am I going to do? Do I just keep on keeping on? Do I sit here, stare, and do nothing? What is it that I should do? Should I just blather on with pretentious crap? Should I sit and have a staring contest?
They say that writers’ block is what happens when even your imaginary friends won’t talk to you. And you sometimes have to stare at a blank screen – just stare at it. It stares at you, and you stare back at it, just waiting for some sort of inspiration to take hold. You listen to music, you watch some TV, and you hope. You hope that something will happen. You hope that you’ll stare at the screen and this time something different will happen, that something will happen – that anything will happen.
Oh, the dreaded nothing. I’d rather write garbage than write nothing. Garbage, at least, can be turned into something. I stare at the blank screen, and think, I’d give my left arm for some garbage … well maybe not my whole left arm, but certainly a few fingers.
And then finally you have a moment, a moment when you are truly inspired, a moment when you’re in the zone. You can’t be stopped; you are a juggernaut of creativity. You feel like it’s effortless. You think, How did I not see this before? Things line up. You put two and two together and make a glorious four. You find new and exciting ways to connect your ideas – and in that moment, you are free.
And you can’t believe that it came from one silly little blinking cursor and a blank computer screen.
So I say, stare that blank screen in the face! Look at that cursor! And then remember that no one is going to do it for you. You have to do it yourself. Not today, blank screen, not today!
Joe Torres writes sci-fi adventure with heart. He is currently working on his first novel, Force of Nature. Joe lives in Gilbert, Ariz., with his wife and either the most amazing child on the planet or a demon from the depths of hell, depending on which side of nap time you find yourself.