My Battle with the Blank Page

Oct 04, 2017 | Posted by the IEW Blog Team


Writer’s block. Is this phrase as ominous for everyone else as it is for me? Like someone stuck in a cell block, I envision myself sitting in a prison cell, cold, alone, and devoid of inspiration. I’m not sure why that’s the visual I get, but needless to say the picture conjured and connected to “writer’s block” has a harsh connotation for me. The strange thing is that I love to write and feel I have somewhat of a knack for it…once I get going. And there’s where that sinister phrase comes into play. I happened to find myself placed within that cell of frustration not too long ago, about an hour ago to be precise. The task before me was to write a blog post for—you guessed it—IEW. The post you are reading now. After wrestling with it for a bit, I decided to turn the problem on its head and write about my fight with writer’s block and how I, clearly, had won.

The dash for victory began with the realization that I needed help. As the manager of customer service, I was leading the charge on a new plan for our agents to lend a hand in blogging. Being a true IEW believer, I was attempting to employ the model and imitation strategy, and I was first up to write a post. To my dismay it seemed I was failing from the start. How could I require my team to do something I myself couldn’t accomplish? The ideas just weren’t coming although I knew they were there. The words I began aimlessly typing in the hopes of inducing inspiration made no sense. The thought occurred that I had bitten off more than I could chew. “How do you eat an elephant?” My mother’s wise voice rang in my head, “One bite at a time.”

All right. First things first—I needed a topic. Investigating various documents provided for our bloggy inspiration as well as looking through the IEW Facebook page proved fruitless. I needed something more. Feeling frazzled, I whipped around in my freestanding swivel chair and confessed to my cubicle partner, “I can’t think of anything to write!” Somewhat surprised, Nick proceeded to employ just what I needed: Unit 7 (Inventive Writing). He first expressed his empathy for my conundrum, and then together we began to compile a list of possible topics starting with what I loved about IEW and ranging to other topics that varied widely. In the course of our conversation, we were able to find ideas that resonated; eventually we arrived, in a sense, back where I started: the blank brain. But this time I was the victor, not the vanquished. Finally I had a topic! I would write about conquering the blank brain! Not just that, I also had gained confidence. It wasn’t an easy process, but I had arrived.

Through persistence, the buddy system, and a method that teaches us to ask questions and structure our thoughts, I broke free and laughed in the face of writer’s block. Now, don’t get me wrong. I know it will be back. But I also know I can handle it when it comes, and that changes everything. More than that, having experienced this process myself, I am equipped in a new way to assist my team as we move together towards becoming confident and competent communicators and thinkers. Take that, writer’s block! mic drop


Kristin Boutross grew up as part of a large homeschooling family in the rolling hills of Northeast Oklahoma. In addition to working in IEW's customer service department, she also assists the Director of Marketing. Teaching IEW classes for a local homeschool co-op, she has especially enjoyed being an assistant teacher to Andrew Pudewa. She enjoys snow, singing, teaching, traveling, being with family and friends, and working with and for IEW

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