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The Blank Page

by UnSocialCactus

The blank page, for many writers, is one of the most intimidating things they'll ever encounter. We often think to ourselves: Will I be happy with my work? Will I be able to connect with my audience? or How do I focus? The one question that every writer asks, however, is Where do I start?

Finding a starting point is difficult. It can even be overwhelming. Not only are you overwhelmed but what if you can't get anyone to publish the book that you spent so much time and effort on. In fact, a very well known author, J.K Rowling, who is best-known for writing the Harry Potter series was denied dozens of times before getting it published.

It's totally normal to feel discouraged when writing your prized book. It's all part of the process. And I think most of us have more unfinished manuscripts than we care to admit. You can do it, don't give up.

One way to overcome this discouragement is to think about the first sentence as opposed to the final draft. Think of it as building a house. Writing is put together in a similar way— word by word and then sentence by sentence. Before you know it, you'll have a whole page. It’s not easy being a writer. And often times people take writers for granted. People, not everyone, but people don’t realize the tears, sweat, and even hard losses that a writer suffers. It took me about five years to write my book. And even so- I’m not sure if I’m gonna publish it. Five years. Five years of my life that I stressed about putting one hundred thousand words on some paper. Funny isn’t it?

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44 Reviews

Points: 3165
Reviews: 44

Tue Oct 10, 2017 3:31 am
jster02 wrote a review...

This is a nice, brief, well written essay. It made me feel as if I am not alone. (I have many unfinished manuscripts. Trust me, I know how it feels).

Ok, I saw no problem's with the first paragraph, except the last sentence is a little clunky. The word "however," seems a little out of place, among other things.

The second paragraph was a little choppy. The third and fourth sentences especially. The beginning of the third is a little repetitive and unnecessary. You already mentioned that starting is overwhelming in the previous sentence The fourth sentence is a bit of a run on. You might try condensing it. I'd recommend not saying she's well known. Maybe just say she wrote Harry Potter?

Paragraph three is pretty much good.

Your final paragraph also needs a little work. (But what writing piece doesn't)? In the third sentence, you said that writing is put together "Word by word, and then sentence by sentence." My suggestion is to cut out the "And then." It doesn't need to be there and distracts from the meaning of the sentence. Towards the middle of the paragraph, you said that many people don't realize how hard it is to be a writer. The beginning of this sentence is redundant, because you used the word "people" twice. I also noticed your ending was a bit abrupt, at least to my ears. (This might just be me, but if others say the same, you should probably listen).

Another thing I noticed:
You started quite a few of your sentences with "and." This works sometimes, but not if overused. I'd suggest reading those sentences out loud to yourself. In fact, read the whole essay out loud. It will help you see what needs improvement.

It's a bit of a fixer upper, but it's good. Make sure to revise this essay, because with enough polish, it could really shine.

Thank's for taking the time to read this, I'm still a rookie at reviewing, so I'm sorry if I did anything wrong.

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641 Reviews

Points: 46598
Reviews: 641

Sat Oct 07, 2017 4:17 pm
Panikos wrote a review...

Hi, UnSocialCactus! Welcome to YWS! I hope you're settling in nicely. My name's Pan and I'll be frying up a review for you today.

First Impressions

I think you've definitely tapped into something that a lot of writers can identify with. I certainly suffer from paralysing fear when starting a new story. How comfortable I feel in the opening can have a huge effect on whether I continue it or not, so it's a scary leap of faith for me. You've definitely found a topic that gives you a lot to write about.

Nevertheless, the flip side of choosing this particular topic is that it's one a lot of writers have covered. It doesn't really feel like you're discussing anything new, and you don't really go into enough detail. You skim the surface of the ideas without ever getting your teeth into them. I'll talk more about this later. For now, onto the nitpicks.


Not only are you overwhelmed but what if you can't get anyone to publish the book that you spent so much time and effort on.

This is a bit of a sloppy sentence - it smashes a clause together with a question and it just doesn't really work in an essay. Perhaps rephrase it as something like:

Not only are you overwhelmed, but apprehensive that nobody will be interested in your book even if you do manage to finish it.

Obviously you don't have to use this; it's just an example of how you could make it clearer.

You can do it, don't give up.

This is a comma splice. The comma should be changed to a full stop or a semi-colon.

(A comma splice is an error that occurs when two independent clauses are separated by way of a comma rather than a full stop, semi colon or appropriate coordinator. You can read this lovely topic for a short crash course in what comma splices are and how to fix them).

One way to overcome this discouragement is to think about the first sentence as opposed to the final draft. Think of it as building a house.

I don't think this is a very good comparison. When you build a house, you absolutely think about the final product before you start laying down the bricks; you have an architect plan out the structure of the house in advance, and the process of construction is controlled and set to a schedule. If you didn't do that, the building would be a mess. It's not really the best simile to use when advocating for unplanned writing.

I'd say that unplanned writing is more like solving a labyrinth. When you enter a maze, you know you're probably not going to get to the middle in one go, so you just wander and see where you end up. You double back on yourself and take tons of different routes before you eventually get to your destination, but every dead end gives you a better idea of where you should go to find the end of the maze. There are times where you'll feel helplessly lost, but as long as you keep calm and keep exploring, you'll get there eventually.

And often times people take writers for granted

Don't need 'times'.

Overall Thoughts

1) As I said before, this is a topic that a lot of writers have covered. That doesn't mean you shouldn't talk about it - far from it - but it does need you have to take an original perspective on the issue. Try to find original examples for things; everyone and their dog knows that J.K. Rowling was rejected many times before The Philosopher's Stone was published. It would be good to see other rejected authors being used to support your argument. Citing several examples of such authors would also provide more evidence for the claim that rejection happens to everyone (because it absolutely does).

One way I think you could make this article more substantial and interesting is by delving into a bit more detail about your own personal experiences with writing. Explain how you specifically overcome the fear of the blank page. Are there any strategies that you use? Does it vary depending on what you're writing? Maybe give an overview of techniques that other writers say they use, just to add a bit more variety to the piece.

2) Give examples. When you say that people take writers for granted, give an example of how they do that. I completely agree with the point, but you need to back it up. Otherwise you're just making baseless claims.

3) You need a stronger ending. You seem to start the article with a clear purpose, but the structure gets a bit woolly as it progresses and you end on quite a limp point. I feel like the whole article needs to be better plotted, because you have a tendency to move from point to point quite aimlessly. Like here, for example:

Before you know it, you'll have a whole page. It’s not easy being a writer.

You move from giving advice about the blank page problem to lamenting about the difficulties of being a writer in very quick succession. It feels like you never develop any of your points to their fullest, like you only have the bones of the article at this point.

Figure out what the purpose of your article is. Is it supposed to give advice? Is it just supposed to discuss the issue? Once you've worked that out, you need to plan out a suitable structure for illustrating that point. Articles should conclude in a way that draws together everything you've written about, summing it up and delivering your main message. At the moment, this is missing from this piece.

I'll call the review there. I think this is great as a starting point for an article, but it needs a bit of extending and reshuffling before it can hold its own amongst the sea of similar essays. I'll end just by saying congratulations for actually finishing a full-length book. Ten years of writing and I'm still yet to manage that.

Keep writing! :D

Thank you! :) I appreciate the fact you would take time out of your day and critique my work.

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58 Reviews

Points: 2202
Reviews: 58

Sat Oct 07, 2017 3:59 pm
AkeliaTaske wrote a review...

Hi there! Akelia here for a review!

Let me just start off saying, I believe EVERY SINGLE WRITER knows what this is like. Here I am writing this review, while at the same time feeling guilty about my own book that is stopped midway and I haven't worked on it in so long. I, and every other author, probably know this.

So here is how I do reviews. I put the critique and the praise in what I call "Sour" and "Sweet". I didn't see much of sours, for this short piece you did a pretty good job with the flow and keeping to the point. Although may I recommend a slightly different ending? I felt like your ending just kind of cut everything off, which may have been your intent, but I feel maybe a much smoother ending, such as-

"Five years of my life that I stressed about putting one hundred thousand words on paper. It's quite funny how I managed to go that long."

Feels a little more smoother. Other than that, it was amazing! Now onto the sweets!

1. You did a really good job with keeping it short and simple, stating your point. I know it can be quite hard to not go into a huge rant about the issue, but keeping it small and simple is a valuable skill for a writer to have. Good job!

2. I loved your exordium. (Introduction) It drew me in, and all the questions were very relatable to the writer. You did an excellent job with it.

Anyway, I hope you have a great day. Remember, never stop writing!


Thank you so much!

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