Facing a Blank Page

TheBlankCanvasBlogHop150BadgeIt’s Day 3 of The Blank Canvas Blog Hop! Sign up for my newsletter (in the form on the right) and leave a comment below. One lucky individual will receive a signed copy of an anthology, winner’s choice, containing my award-winning work. Subjects include dating, autism, new moms, pre-teens, and family. Good luck!


Hand-writing-with-penEvery writer faces it. The blank page. For most of us it’s often a puzzle where our inspiration comes from. Some days it’s there and some days it’s not. It’s maddening, mysterious, and also magical. So how do we court this ephemeral creature?

I know for me there is a definite ebb and flow to the creative process. Over the years, I’ve learned to trust that the fallow periods will end, just as the juicy periods of boundless creativity are also finite. Between these extremes there are long stretches of time that are neither. I am not filled with silence or overflowing with words. I simply am.

Through it all I strive to do one basic thing: keep my butt in the chair. I schedule regular writing time and honor it, just as I honor my other work commitments. I know from experience that my life doesn’t go right without a regular writing practice, so I must make time for this essential task. I would love to say I do this every day, but as a single mom it’s often not possible. Currently I strive to write on alternate days and have made peace with this fact.

Some days the words flow and others not so much. On those days I edit and revise previously written work. As a former editor, this comes easily to me. Sometimes editing leads to the writing of new material Sometimes it doesn’t. Whatever happens, I never beat myself up for not doing more. I remind myself it’s all progress towards the larger goal.

Blogging has kept my writing fairly consistent and provided some much needed structure and accountability. Several of my published pieces started as blog posts. Blogging also forces me to break subjects down into manageable chunks. While I may not have time to tackle a longer essay or chapter, it’s hard to make excuses about a 500-word post.

For the past few years, I’ve been content to work on my blog and other short pieces and let my memoir, tentatively titled My Guardian Angel Sings the Blues, lie fallow. I’d produced two draft manuscripts, but then I’d reached a point and didn’t know how to proceed. At first I tried to force the issue—without success. Then I simply let go.

large-3Letting go is difficult and I tend to fight it. But I’ve learned over the course of my unplanned life that letting go it an essential skill. So I reluctantly let my memoir go and trusted that I would know when it was time to proceed.

I suspect now the real issue was that I wasn’t ready to write about a marriage that had recently ended. I could skirt around the edges, but I wasn’t willing or able to delve into the painful, messy truths. I was more interested in writing about my current life as a single mom to an autistic child than my former life as a married professional struggling with infertility.

Finally as my 50th birthday approached, I felt an overwhelming urge to tackle the project once again and finish. Last month I spent several weeks on the coast with my daughter and focused on the third draft. I managed to complete my first 100 pages. In December I plan to devote another week or two. My goal is to have the third draft completed before my 51st birthday next spring. I hope it’s the final draft, but even if it’s not, I’ll still be celebrating.


Thanks for joining our blog hop! Be sure to visit the other artists’ blogs to learn about their process and win cool stuff. I will be posting links every day to the current stop, so you can always return to my website if you get lost.

  1. Sept 8….Karen Friedland
  2. Sept 9….Lezette Markham
  3. Sept 10…Cynthia Patton  ←YOU ARE HERE
  4. Sept 11…Jennyann Carthern
  5. Sept 12…Kiala Givehand
  6. Sept 13…Jan Blount
  7. Sept 14…Effy Wild
  8. Sept 15…Virginia Simpson-Magruder
  9. Sept 16…Dariana Cruz
  10. Sept 17…Susan Miller
  11. Sept 18…Grace Howes
  12. Sept 19…Tori Deaux
  13. Sept 20Kiala Givehand
  14. Sept 21…Martin Arkenstone
  15. Sept 22…Nicole Piar

Until next time,
Cynthia Patton

About Cynthia J. Patton

Writer, Editor, Advocate, Speaker, Special Needs Attorney, and Autism Mom. Also the Founder and Chairperson of Autism A to Z, a nonprofit providing resources and solutions for life on the spectrum.
This entry was posted in Creativity, My Life and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to Facing a Blank Page

  1. Pingback: Blank Canvas Blog Hop | Simply Art

  2. Thank you for your share and vulnerability. I agree with you that letting go is an important part of creation. Letting go and get out of my own way and trust God that I got everything I need to be okay on this journey trough life.

    • Definitely! I couldn’t agree more. I hadn’t intended to write about letting go when I envisioned this post, but I feel it’s an important part of the creative process. When I got better at letting go, I also became better at my craft. It’s interesting how that works, isn’t it?

  3. Grace says:

    Gosh I do love that one simple statement “I simply am”. Says so so much about how you move thru your process. Cynthia I must say, I felt so at ease with your writing style….it flows so effortlessly from thought to thought, like having a warm blanket slowly envelop you. Thank you for letting us take a peak into your world as a writer.

  4. Nicole says:

    This post was so beautifully written. It makes me want to read more of your work. I love the sense of peace and acceptance that runs through this post. I try to remember to be at peace with what is, to make commitments to myself and follow through but also accept how things turn out. This mind-set is a work-in-progress. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Thank you! That sense of peace and acceptance has been hard-won, but wow, what a gift it is when I remember to use it! Lol. It is still a work-in-progress for me as well, but seems to get easier with age. :)

  5. Tori Deaux says:

    Oh how I relate to this, Cynthia! My takeaway summary (worded for my own use): Trust the process. Show up. Work on what’s working. Let go of what’s not. Every project in it’s time. Celebrate! Yes, that’s pretty much my process too; thank you for putting it on paper! ;)

    • Tori,
      I sooo wish I had been able to state as concisely and clearly as you what I was trying to express. Yes, that is my process in a nutshell. Or at least what I aspire to on a perfect day! Lol. Can’t wait for your stop on the blog hop.:)

  6. Artist Karen says:

    I really enjoyed reading this post, Cynthia. Thank you for sharing your process and speaking so honestly about what it’s like sometimes to face work that you want to do but can be so difficult. I liked what you said about “butt in chair” time! What an important commitment you have made! Brava!

  7. karen says:

    Sorry Cynthia. Just trying to figure out what a pingback in and how to do it.

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  9. carolyn says:

    Cynthia, it’s interesting that a writers challenge is so similar to a painters. It’s good to be reminded that creativity comes and goes…just stick with it! Thanks!

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  12. jan blount says:

    Cynthia as a fellow writer I really related to your post and your process. Especially resonate with “I learned over the course of my unplanned life that letting go is an essential skill.” So true. I keep reminding myself “its all in divine timing.” Glad you decided to trust that. …and I look forward to eventually reading your memoir…when its time.

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  14. Lezette says:

    Hi Cynthia, Thank you for sharing a look into your process and congratulations on your first 100 pages. I truly enjoyed you sharing that in the stretches between inspiration your creativity is neither silent or overflowing……it just is. =)

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  17. Dariana Cruz says:

    Cynthia I loved your story. I like how you express yourself and how you have taken well advantage of lives experiences to learn and become a better you. I can relate not only with your creative process but also with your challenges and with all you have conquered. Thanks so much for sharing!!

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  20. Fiona says:

    I’m so glad I came across this. I have just begun a Blogging 101 course on WordPress, so any tips on writing are invaluable to me. It’s strange, because when I had to write for the first assignment, I wrote about the blank page in front of me! Tfs :)

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