Jim Murray

5 years ago · 3 min. reading time · ~100 ·

Jim blog
The Blank Page: Friend Or Foe?

The Blank Page: Friend Or Foe?



% Whiting About Wiking


(= TE

Every day of my life since I was about 18, I have sat down in front of blank pages.
In fact there are those who would argue that my early blank pages were actually cave walls when, in point of fact they were pieces of 20 lb bond paper rolled up in an OIivetti manual typewriter. Or in one of those red hardcover notebooks you could pick up for 2 bucks at Grand & Toy.
I have not kept anywhere near perfect track of all the blank pages I have filled over the years. With blank verse, with poetry, with stories, with series and film treatments and scripts, with lyrics, with a couple of ersatz novels, with reviews, with op/ed pieces and with advertising and digital content.
And I would not even want to hazard a guess. Because at the end of the day, this is what writers do.
Until today I have never really thought much about the confrontational aspects of dealing with blank pages. They were, to me at least, simply vehicles. They could have been good quality paper, crappy newsprint, in anyone of the hundreds of notebooks I carried around with me and most recently a screen page in a Pages word processing program on my MacBook.
Almost every writer I have know has an attitude toward the blank page. They all find the fact that I don’t to be slightly disturbing.




Jim Murray
I am an ex-ad agency creative director,
writer, art director, strategist, editorialist,
reader, TV & movie watcher. I have been actively
posting on social media since the early 2000s.

I live with my wife on the beautiful Niagara Peninsula
in Canada and work with a small group of companies

who are making a positive difference in the world.



“What about writer’s block?” they ask. “Don’t you find it disconcerting or even daunting to sit there and stare at a blank page and have nothing to fill it with?”
My response is a simple “Nope”. And there is a very good reason for that. The reason I don’t have any issues with the blank page is that I actually figure out just what I want to say and have a pretty good idea about how to say it before I sit down to write.
This process is more commonly known as thinking. And if the truth be told, writers, and by writers, I mean people who get up and do this every day whether they are being paid to or not, are really thinkers. Writing is really just a mode of expression.



Not All Thinkers Are Writers



Actors are thinkers. Their blank page is the character they need to bring to life. Artists are thinkers and their medium, whatever it happens to be, is their blank page. Engineers are thinkers and their blank page is some gizmo idea they see in their head. And the list goes on.
Medium is the operative word here, because that’s really all the blank page or canvas or character or block of clay represents. A medium is the thing that connects the the idea to the actualization or manifestation of that idea.
So when people tell me that they have problems in dealing with the blank page, I am quick to point out that their ‘real’ problem is that they simply have not got an idea.



How To Be A Successful Thinker



Teach yourself to focus your mind on whatever is bubbling around in there fighting to get out.This is actually a lot less difficult to do than you might think. But there are terms and conditions that apply.

1. Successful thinkers actually have a preferred mode of expression and work hard on the craft of it. 

2. Successful thinking are sponges for knowledge, insight, opinion and information, because all of those externals feed the internal workings of the brain and keep a steady stream of potential ideas percolating.
3. Successful thinkers have developed the facility in their brain to stop and hone in on one idea, to drill down into that idea until it makes sense and then stay focused long enough to visualize it as a complete thing in their head before they ‘confront’ their blank page.
4. Successful thinkers understand that this process is a life long and unrelenting activity. And those who are not prepared to commit to it, should, for the sake of their own sanity, probably not be doing it.



Find Your Calling



Having your entire career emanate from the space between your ears is not something everyone is suited for. Many try, but unless you are built that way and are fully committed, it will not last, and you will become one of those people who stares at the blank page.
This is not a judgement. It’s simply a fact of life. Some people are writers. Some are not. Some are very good at things that writers would be completely inept at.
I look at my pal Andrew, the guy who has rebuilt our kitchen, bathroom and basement. Before starting each one, he just stood there and stared and thought about it until he had an idea of what he wanted to do. Our house was his blank page, but he didn’t do anything until he knew what he wanted to do, then he sold it to us and did it exquisitely.
I admire that ability just as much as I admire the ability of anyone who does anything well.

But the way you get there is by being really honest with yourself about what the hell is it you are. Once you figure that out, your blank page stops becoming an impediment and becomes the medium you use to express yourself.









Preston 🐝 Vander Ven

1 year ago #20

Jim Murray

1 year ago #18

Jim Murray

1 year ago #17

Jim Murray

1 year ago #16

Jim Murray

1 year ago #15

Zacharias 🐝 Voulgaris

1 year ago #14

You never hear truckers complain about truckers block so why would a writer do that (with writers block, that is)? I remember the movie about Marquis de Sade (the original sadist) where he was locked up with no means of writing yet he still found a way. It was disgusting but it worked. Fortunately, we don't have this sort of problems… 

Fay Vietmeier

1 year ago #13

@Jim Murray 

Not All Thinkers Are Writers

I guess it holds true as well that .. not all writers are THINKERS 

I appreciate that you are a THINKING writer 

Good “terms & conditions” that you offer on 

How To Be A Successful Thinker

.. multiplied thanks Jim for your valuable wisdom .. 

I mostly write poetry and enjoy attempting different forms of poetry. My favorite poetry form is haiku because I like the brevity in which I must pen my thoughts. Since haiku is a nature-oriented poem, it is easy for me to become inspired. I just go outside with my coffee and sit with nature for a while. Then I am ready to write. 

Preston 🐝 Vander Ven

1 year ago #11

I may not always be thinking about what I am writing, but I enjoy reading and listening about what I like to write about. This is what helps me stay focused. 

Jim Murray

5 years ago #10

If it feels good publish it, Sandra \ud83d\udc1d Smith... Here's something interesting. Every time I get a link request on LinkedIn, it looks like it's coming from you. It's obviously a glitch, but I have to open the notification to see who it's actually from. Nicely played LI.

Jim Murray

5 years ago #9

Thanks @ Jaqui Lane. can't believe I'm not following you. I will fix that.

Jaqui Lane

5 years ago #8

Jim, With you all the way. I am always thinking about writing and if I am not thinking about it, or writing I am reading. That's pretty much all I do other than some eating, exercise and some catching up with friends...but mostly its thinking, writing and reading. I've got too many things I want to write about and not enough time. That said, I think many people don't have the discipline to write...there's always something else to do. Then, they're not a writer.

Jim Murray

5 years ago #7

Love you to Shelley Brown. Keep writing because my spidey sense has told me time and again that you are one of those.

Phil Friedman

5 years ago #6

in the area of my core business, a toilet IS a "head". Just for the record.

David B. Grinberg

5 years ago #5

Jim, as usual, you hit the proverbial nail on the head with your sage advice. In fact your writing philosophy is the same as mine! You sum it up nicely here: "I actually figure out just what I want to say and have a pretty good idea about how to say it before I sit down to write." It's important to think through and mull over whatever one want to write about. If strapped for time, do this in the shower, bathroom, while commuting in traffic or on the train, or wherever you have a bit of time to think without disruption. My problem, if any, tends to be the opposite -- knowing when to stop writing and start editing. Just as a good painter cannot spend hours upon hours seeking perfection, a good writer must stop at some point, let the piece sit and gel for a while, then come back and edit, edit, edit, until the writer is convinced it's ready to go. Don't seek perfection, just seek to be good -- and then try to go from good to great. Trust your gut instincts and don't be afraid to publish your post. Keep buzzing, Jim, as your prolific prose is always impressive and admirable.

Phil Friedman

5 years ago #4

It has often been said that my mind is a Tabula Rasa. However, not being fluent in Latin, I've never known whether to take that as a compliment or not.

Jim Murray

5 years ago #3

I hear you Amigo. @Don Kerr.

don kerr

5 years ago #2

More from the prolific Beezer Jim Murray

don kerr

5 years ago #1

Jim Murray There is still one aspect of the olden tymes that I miss and it revolves around the blank page. When every day confronted with the 8.5 x 11 bond rolled into my Remington (later an IBM Selectric!) I wondered what would appear when fingers touched keys. Sometimes it all came easily (usually after a well-formed idea was clear in my head). Other times it was as futile as shovelling your driveway before it stops snowing. BUT - there was that visceral, cleansing moment when realizing what you had on the page was total shit and you could rip the page violently from the machine, crumple it with vigour and toss it spiritedly in the direction of a waste basket. The delete button just doesn't cut it!

Articles from Jim Murray

View blog
1 month ago · 3 min. reading time

Over the past two years, I have, among other things, been writing short stories. There are nine in a ...

3 months ago · 4 min. reading time

(This is from my Couch Potato Chronicles column Circa 2000 AD.) · We’re having the worst snow storm ...

9 months ago · 5 min. reading time

This is part of my series on smart marketing for small business. Other posts in this series are avai ...

Related professionals

You may be interested in these jobs

  • Siam Surgery

    Salaried GP with a view to Partnership

    Found in: Talent CA - 5 days ago

    Siam Surgery Sudbury, Canada

    About the Role Siam Surgery is a semi-rural GMS practice which provides a high level of care to just over 11,000 patients in Sudbury, Suffolk and its surrounding villages. · We are a well-established, friendly and supportive practice who are looking to welcome a GP into our tea ...

  • The Engineering Institute of Canada

    Intermediate Geotechnical Engineer

    Found in: Talent CA - 1 day ago

    The Engineering Institute of Canada Calgary, Canada

    Responsibilities Lead and undertake analysis and technical advisory services for the design, analysis, and construction of dams, reservoirs, dyke, spillways and hydropower projects across Canada. · Contribute to ongoing market expansion initiatives and develop Stantec's profile ...

  • London Drugs Limited

    TECH Retail Merchandising Manager

    Found in: Talent CA - 5 days ago

    London Drugs Limited Penticton, Canada Full time

    Not just a job...a communitya partnershipa team · You'll experience them all at London Drugs. As one of Canada's fastest-growing and most successful retail chains, we know what it takes to build a satisfying career. We are seeking innovative, customer focused people to join our t ...