You Cannot Edit a Blank Page · 16 October 2021

I never really thought about it, but you cannot edit a blank page.

Apparently, Jodi Picoult said, “You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” As obvious as it sounds, the quote is very deep. There is a truth to it that cannot be denied. Or can it?

By the way. If you are like me, you may not know who Jodi Picoult is. She is an author of many books, none of which I have read. Not that I would not read her stuff, I just have not. There are so many authors like that these days. Authors who are famous and have written a lot, but who I have not read. There are just too many books to read. At any rate, she has many books out there. Perhaps I will read one.

But back to Picoult’s quote. You cannot edit a blank page. Really. Try as you might, you just cannot change the writing on a page that has nothing on it. Then again, once you put something on it, have you not edited it? After all, editing is changing. Once you put a single word on a page, you have altered the page. And so, you might consider the page edited. At least from a certain point of view. A technical point of view.

Still, I agree with Picoult. I think that adding a word to a blank page, is not editing. It is just getting started. And that is what writing is all about. Getting started.

Mary Poppins said that well begun is half done. I agree. Especially when it comes to writing. Getting that first word on the page is well begun. At least for many writers. And would be writers. Actually, probably more for would be writers. After all, they are the ones who still believe in writer’s block. (Which is a completely different story. One which, by the way, I have already written. Thus the link.)

But back to the quote. You cannot edit a blank page. And even one word is not a blank page. That one word can be edited. And that is the point of the quote after all. Just get to it. Just write. If you want to be a writer, you need to write. Period. Rather, exclamation point! Write! Write! Write!

Or sit there and pretend that you want to write. Sit there and give in to the myth called writer’s block. People who sit down to write and end up with a blank page at the end of a writing session are destined to never be writers. Or they are people who take a long time to write stuff in their brains and then spew them out when the time is right. I know because I used to be like that. Now, I just spew. Write, write, write. Nothing else matters when you are a writer. Get words onto the page. And if they are worthy words, publish them. And sometimes, if you are trying to meet a deadline or you are bent on getting something out there for your next blog post, publish them even if they are not so worthy. (Not that I always do that, but…)

When it comes right down to it, Jodi Picoult is right. “You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”

So if you want to be a writer, get to it. Write. And if you feel like it, edit. But for Pete’s sake, get started. Start writing. Get rid of those blank pages.

© 2021 Michael T. Miyoshi

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