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Overcoming Writer's Block with Particle, Wave, Field Theory

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It's Demolition Time

Photo by Sebba at

Photo by Sebba at

We get writer's block, otherwise known as white page syndrome, blank canvas terror, or frozen brain, from time to time. Here's an easy writing exercise based on particle, wave, field theory (yes, it's a writing heuristic derived in part from the study of physics), guaranteed to help you overcome writer's block.

It should take you about 10 minutes to read this article and understand the basic three-step drill. After that, you will be ready to unblock the powerful words hammering at the inside of your skull.

Let's get right to the three steps. At the end of this article, you will find an explanation of the brilliant background and theory of this writing exercise.

Get Yourself Set Up for Demolishing Writer’s Block

Choose the writing medium that works for you. Your PC? Pad and pencil? Pen and notebook? Crayon and paper? Whatever is comfortable.

Give the dog a bone. Make sure the kids are tended to, and don't let anything be boiling over on the stove. You don't want distractions.

Choose a physical stimulus. Anything that affects your senses. Pick something that you can see, feel, smell, taste, or hear. Whether it's a work of art on the wall of your study or the sink in your kitchen, the texture of your chair fabric or the metal of the pen in your hand, the fragrance of a slab of meat curing in the smoker or the stench of a pile of doggie-do in the yard, the salty taste of a sardine or the bitter-sweet of dark chocolate on your tongue, or a favorite piece of music or the call of a summer bird, any will work well for this writing exercise. Let's call this stimulus the "object".

After you try this exercise once or twice with a well-defined object within your sensory grasp, you can move on to the thoughts in your mind.

Photo by Sally's Trove

Photo by Sally's Trove

Step 1: Describe the object exactly as you perceive it (the particle).

What is its name? What are its dimensions (how big is it)? What are the parts it is made of? What is its color? How much does it weigh? What is it made of? How old is it?

Focus on the immediate, physical characteristics of the object.

Example: In front of me on the patio's glass-topped table stands a cobalt blue glass vase brimming with more than a dozen stems of shockingly blue delphiniums. Delivered just a few minutes ago by the florist, this fresh bouquet and its vase are still cool to the touch. Although these eye-candy flowers have no fragrance, they do have a powerful presence, placed as they are in the dappled shade of the overhanging maple tree and reflected in the glass top of the table. Nestled among the stems of blossoms is a plastic stick pinching a little note card. The note card, which I hold in my shaking hand, says, "Happy Birthday, Hon. Jack."

Photo Courtesy of Sundstrom on

Photo Courtesy of Sundstrom on

Step 2: Describe how the object changes over time (the wave).

What was the object doing before it came here? What is its history? What will it do after I leave? What is its future?

Be as expansive or restrictive in the time frame of the change as you like: look at the object's change over millennia, or just how it changes during the time you are observing or engaging with it.

Example: Doing my best to calm my furious thoughts, I sit down on a chair at the table and look at the flowers. I cannot deny that they are gorgeous. I wonder how far away these flowers were grown, how they were harvested, what kind of containers they were packed in, and whether they spent time in a truck or an airplane or a train. They were cool to the touch when they arrived here, and I imagine they were refrigerated during their entire journey. They certainly were not picked by Jack.

A light breeze picks up above the maple tree, and I watch the top-most delphinium blossoms quiver. A bee comes to inspect the pale yellow center of a delicate flower, seems to find it distasteful, and dashes off. The bee is my guide. I get up from the table, pick up the vase, walk the length of the yard to the trash bin, and pitch. I hear the vase smash to pieces. My fury is calmed.

Where are we in our universe?

Photo by Woodsy at

Photo by Woodsy at

Step 3: Describe the object in its larger context (the field).

How does the object relate to the larger world that contains it? What does the object remind you of? What is its purpose?

Think about your personal universe, the world you grew up in. Think about the physical universe you learned about in school. What associations between the object and these worlds can you see?

Scroll to Continue

Example: I see Jack in his car this morning, driving to work, holding his cell phone to his left ear, barking instructions to the florist about this obligatory bouquet. I know this task was recorded in his cell phone organizer. With just a tap of a button, my birthday flowers would be on their way, and he could get on with his schmoozing sales calls and lunch-time martini swilling. But, after all, he was raised to do the "right" thing, wasn't he?

Now, with the vase smashed in the bottom of the trash bin, I hear the phone ring. I pick up my wallet and keys and a light jacket to wear in the cooling afternoon, and I walk through the front door and lock it behind me. I make a mental note to buy some honey.

More Ways To Demolish Writer's Block

Particle, Wave, Field Theory: Tagmemics

The term particle, wave, field theory belongs only to the study of linguistics, not to the study of physics. Particle, wave, field theory is a subset of tagmemics discourse theory, developed from the work of Kenneth L. Pike in the 1970s. In the 1980s, particle, wave, field became a staple in both undergraduate and graduate courses of study as an aid to stimulate thought and writing.

Linguists are well-degreed, scientifically-oriented academicians who study language in many dimensions. The dimensions include grammar, meaning, language origin, human physiology, and psycho-social dynamics. Wikipedia does a fairly good job describing linguistics, so I leave the further details and references to them.

Linguists, being the scientists and philosophers they are, reached toward the study of physics to find commonalities in human and physical experience in order to illuminate the systems and processes of language.

In physics, particle refers to the smallest dimension of an object in its most elemental form (think atom and sub-atomic particle). Wave , in its simplest definition, is change (how does a particle change through time?). Field is, to me, the most interesting. This linguistic term comes from quantum field theory, where interactive and dynamic systems occur only in contexts larger than themselves. For us, as writers, field means that there is no idea or object that exists in isolation.

If You Want To Go There...

A Note about My Writing Example

When I started to write this article, I looked around my office for an object I wanted to use as an example. I focused on a drawing I did in 1985. As I went through the particle, wave, field exercise, this drawing yielded nothing interesting, nothing I could "sink my teeth into", if you will. I moved on to something I had recently sold on eBay, but only had a picture of. I liked the item, but it didn't trigger any motivation or commitment. So I looked through my photo files over the last few years, and this picture of delphiniums rang a bell of some sort, although I couldn't identify its tone or pitch. As I worked through the exercise using the delphiniums, a story evolved. A story I didn't know was there, buried in my heart, soul, and mind.

This is a powerful exercise, guaranteed to demolish writer's block.

Many thanks to Robie2, who suggested a title that wouldn't put everyone to sleep.

What Do You Think?

Please leave a comment below to join the discussion on this article and share your thoughts. Let me and other members of the HubPages community know what you think.

If you are not a member here on HupPages, you can sign up here. You can publish your own articles and even earn some money. It’s free to join!

© 2008 Sally's Trove. All rights reserved.

More from Sally on Writing and Writer's Block...


Jools Hogg from North-East UK on June 04, 2012:

Sally, I didn't get around to it, busy with my gardening but I love that it is just 3 steps and am going to try it for some fiction this week (not for HP though, just for me). Many thanks.

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on June 04, 2012:

RedElf, what a cool observation! The evilpanted one left that comment three years ago. Re-reading it just now, because of your comment, it strikes me as even funnier today. Wonder if that story ever got written? lol

Never too late! The time to benefit is now. You don't happen to have any butter tarts in front of you, do you? Thanks for the great comment.

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on June 04, 2012:

John MacNab, you are so welcome. But really, we can find excuses anywhere, any time. Writing can be so darned painful, and it's often much easier to have a conversation or a dish of ice cream instead. I'm glad you think this technique will be helpful. :)

RedElf from Canada on June 03, 2012:

Food for thought indeed. Perhaps if I had absorbed it earlier, I might have benefited from the lesson. I see the Evilpanted one grasped it right away :)

John MacNab from the banks of the St. Lawrence on June 03, 2012:

I love it. After reading this hub, I realise that I no longer have any excuse for not writing. Thank you Sally's Trove.

Melanie Chisnall from Cape Town, South Africa on June 03, 2012:

This was a great piece of writing, and it kept me hooked until the end. It also made me think about objects in different ways - thank you! :)

Jools Hogg from North-East UK on June 03, 2012:

Sally's Trove, this is a very useful article which I am going to use today! My recent block scared me a little bit and I think this article will help a lot. Also, I want to start to write fiction again and I think this will certainly help with that.

Voted up and shared.

Attani from Silicon Valley on June 01, 2012:

Thank you. :)

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on March 08, 2012:

Jakebrap, I just read and commented on your hub. I think there are many things those who write can learn from each other regarding the skills and strategies needed to excel in the discipline. I got a lot out of your description of how it feels to be in the middle of writer's block and that there are degrees of severity of block. I hadn't thought much about that. Glad you enjoyed this hub!

Jakebrap from Liverpool, UK on March 08, 2012:

Very in-depth hub, wish I'd checked it out before I wrote mine yesterday (similar subject), could have learned a thing or two haha!

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on February 18, 2012:

Thank you all for the great comments. I'm glad this Hub had meaning for you.

@alocsin, thanks for the suggestion to promote on physics boards for students who need to write. They should, maybe could, identify with this approach.

Ty, cclitgirl and Kimberly Turner for sharing.

@tammy, there is probably a scientific approach behind most tasks, but if the approach makes it into our consciousness, then that's another matter. Thanks for your comment about are ahead of the game.

@Audrey, indeed, it is a way of being mindful. Full of bringing the mind to a task.

Kimberly Quevedo from New Jersey on February 18, 2012:

Socially shared!

Kimberly Quevedo from New Jersey on February 18, 2012:

Very interesting approach to getting rid of Writer's Block. I enjoyed your great writing and flow, your tips and examples and your humor! Thanks for the hub!

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on February 18, 2012:

Wow, a bit esoteric, but a great way to merge physics with writing. I hope you post links to this in some of the physics boards, particularly at college. They have to do a lot of writing and would appreciate methods that relate to their field. Voting this Up and Interesting.

Cynthia Calhoun from Western NC on February 18, 2012:

This hub is awesome, fantastic, full of great ideas, and I'm bookmarking! Not only that, I'm SHARING! :)

Audrey Howitt from California on February 14, 2012:

A very interesting approach! A way of being mindful perhaps!

Tammy from North Carolina on February 14, 2012:

Deep thoughts! I always visualize things in this manner when I am trying to grasp a concept, but I didn't realize there was a scientific approach and idealogy behind it. Very interesting! It sounds like you are very educated in these things.

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on January 22, 2012:

htodd, you are very welcome. And thanks for reading and commenting!

htodd from United States on January 22, 2012:

Thanks for the nice post..This is really great

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on June 12, 2011:

Thanks for the link, Morgue. Glad you got something useful out of this. :)

DogGodFrogLog from Multiverse on June 11, 2011:

Nice article. Saw it on the side while I was working my writer's block out. Going to drop a link to it; take it easy man.

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on October 06, 2010:

You are so welcome, MT. I hope this technique is useful for you. You know, I get writers block a lot more often than that! Thanks for reading and commenting.

Linda Rogers from Minnesota on October 06, 2010:

Thanks so much Sally. I seem to get writers block every other week. I will definitely try this technique. Thanks for sharing this information with us.

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on September 03, 2010:

Dolores, so glad you found this Hub after all this time!

About those delphiniums, they did make a beautiful picture, but I actually had a negative association with them, which accounts for the combination of melancholy and anger in the three short examples. This kind of writing exercise can draw out emotions that may surprise you later. I hadn't read the three examples in a long time, and now I am amazed at the emotional power they hold for me. I also noticed today, for the first time, that all four photos are dominated by strong blues. Wonder what Freud or Jung would have to say about that!

I hope you give this exercise a try.

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on September 02, 2010:

Sally - whoah, this is one of your oldest hubs, I see. What a wonderful way to overcome writer's block. Your tips are simple, yet sound so effective. I love the delphiniums!

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on July 16, 2010:

Tony, so glad you find this useful. You know, there's so much on HP not just to read but to DO...look for advice, offer it if you can, follow the buzz about the HP business...I'm surprised you found this at all! lol

I am sorely lacking in keeping up with my favorite writers, as in tonymac04. Particle wave field theory, unfortunately, does not seem to expand time, which is something I could use a lot more of. :)

Tony McGregor from South Africa on July 16, 2010:

Very useful Hub - don't know why I haven't seen it before - better late than never, I guess.

Love and peace


Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on July 16, 2010:

Aaaarghhhh, kimberlyslyrics! For some unknown reason I did not see your comment until just now. Thank you for your good words...I hope this Hub has been useful. ~Sherri

kimberlyslyrics on May 22, 2010:

This was absolutely amazing

printing it now

I personally thank you


Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on February 16, 2010:

Grace, if I may call you by that name, your words are a delight to me.

There is an eternity in a moment of a thought...we just have to be willing to explore that vast space of something that first strikes us as nothing. It is all there, in a bouquet of flowers, in a grain of sand, in a word spoken between two lovers, or even in a word between two who hate each other. By focusing on the present, the here and now for what it is, we can find the story.

Thank you so much for your comment.

UlrikeGrace from Canada on February 16, 2010:

Oh Sally where were you when I was in college? But I'm glad I had opportunity to read this now. Great Hub and I love the exercise pattern. I have also tried the "blah-blah-blah-GOLD!" routine as well, but yours sounds so much more creative and a little more controled. As well, like you said, a person doesn't know what might come out of it. Thanks I am anxious to try it.

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on October 05, 2009:

Duchess, I know what you mean about getting caught up in comments. Same goes for me...I don't get to read nearly as many Hubs as I'd like because I spend so much time paying attention to the worthwhile comments!

Thanks so much for reading and adding your good words.

Duchess OBlunt on October 05, 2009:

I am relatively new to HubPages, and am trying to work my way through some of the "fans" and their work. I just found this one and tickled I did. Not only is you Hub worth book marking (and I have), some of the comments are just as insightful. It's no wonder I don't have time to read more hubs, I get caught up in the comments after as well.

I think that is a sign of a great hub.


Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on August 20, 2009:

You are so welcome, Pamela. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Pamela Laird on August 20, 2009:

Thanks for this hub. I will use it when i am looking at the next blank page or screen.

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on August 05, 2009:

Sabu, thanks for reading and commenting. I am always honored when you take the time to read what I write. I don't know how I missed your comment as well! Apologies.

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on June 23, 2009:

JamaGenee, I can't believe I didn't see your comment until now! It is true I've been in the ozone for a while, but not answering you is just plain rude.

I'm glad that nasty cold pushed you in the right direction. I happen to think you are one of the finest writers here.

Thanks so much for sharing your experiences.

sabu singh on June 23, 2009:

Fascinating hub ST. Shows your innate talent

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on February 19, 2009:

An Engish professor years ago eliminated all the wonderful steps you describe above and instructed us to "Just write!" In her classroom (and only there), simply putting pen to paper got the juices flowing.

I could *always* write *in response to something*, but I didn't realize this when I first came to HubPages. Reading hubs by people like marisuewrites and CJ Stone flat intimidated me and caused what seemed like a terminal case of white page syndrome. It took a Cold-From-Hell to get past that. A complete hub came to me between trips to the loo. Being too sick to protest that it wasn't "good enough", etc, I just typed it, added a couple of graphics, hit "publish", and crawled back into bed. My best hub ever...who knew? Now it's not writer's block that keeps me from writing as much as I'd like, only lack of time. When I do have time, I "just write".

But if I ever do suffer "white page syndrome" again, I'll come here and follow your steps. Thanks!

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on February 19, 2009:

About what is fact and what is fiction, and any Jack, you are as capable of the story as I.

About being around, amen, sister.

Pam Roberson from Virginia on February 19, 2009:

YES, the two aspects you mentioned are so correct. My biggest downfall is in being overly critical of what I write. I welcome the second one where writing leads to other places. :)

Those flowers are gorgeous, and I meant to make mention of that before. When I got to the part about them going in the garbage I literally gasped! lol! That's when you know you've done a great job in writing out an experience whether it's fiction or real.

And yes I know all about those "Jacks." ;) I could of sworn yours was real, but then again that's how great of a writer you are.

Ah, to be removed from yourself yet be engaged with yourself is incredible. Thank you for sharing that. I agree totally although I hadn't thought of it in that way, but YES, and that is when the good stuff happens.

I'm around too, just not as much as I wish I could be. :)

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on February 19, 2009:

Pam, unlike you, my biggest problem is coming up with ideas. This exercise always surprises me. It's not the only one I use, but it's one of the most worthwhile. And so I get ideas from it.

But I do know what you are saying about finishing an idea. There are two aspects to this. One is being so critical of the self that nothing passes muster, and therefore the idea dies. The other is that the original thought leads elsewhere, to somewhere we don't anticipate. Actually, this is the path to follow.

This little story about the delphiniums. I had no idea where it would lead. But I went along with the winds. Something spoke to me, without my understanding, and I trusted it. I trusted the other me that lives inside my head. There is no Jack, but there is a world of Jacks. Know what I mean?

This exercise removes me from myself, but also engages me with myself. Who knows what I am thinking, and what might ensue from what I think? Just cast it all to the winds and wait to see the detritus.

Thank you for your awesome comment...I am here, but sometimes spaced out from engagement.

Pam Roberson from Virginia on February 19, 2009:

WOW! I'm so glad this popped up! Sally this is marvelous. And the example story you gave is awesome. This is a must read for anyone who writes, and it's going to be bookmarked before I leave.

I think my biggest problem isn't in coming up with ideas, it's in finishing them. Thinking I know where I'll take it, then second guessing my intentions. Sometimes what i write doesn't go anywhere near where I intend it to go. Many times when I do finish, it sits for a long time because I can't bear to go through and edit it. Other times, if I'm really excited about the idea, I just throw it out there then CRINGE over my errors!

BUT writer's block does hit, I've just tried to not get too worked up over it. I'm going to try this exercise the next time I get blocked and also for fun.

Thank you!

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on February 19, 2009:

Done. I won't ask how many beer cans, because that will make another comment on this Hub. But I'm going to assume it's less than 250 worth.

Looking forward to our next engagements.

goldentoad from Free and running.... on February 19, 2009:

I got empty beer cans, will that do?

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on February 19, 2009:

First, GT, just go ahead and bookmark it.  What's with the "I may have to"?  The wall always hits, whether we like it or not.

Second, I think you own a boiling pit (as do I), like the center of the earth, that erupts.  Maybe, sometimes, it erupts by accident, or by the hand of some one or thing's control outside one's self, and therefore, it is unpredictable.  But other times, I think we can reach down there, get a burned hand, but get fuel for a controlled fire without permanent damage to the self.  Maybe this exercise will help the reaching. 

Thanks for the astute comment.  That will be 250 USD for my response.

goldentoad from Free and running.... on February 19, 2009:

I may have to book mark this one, never know when this wall is going to officially hit. What's funny is that everytime I write, I feel that's it, I don't know if I can ever write again. I feel so dead, but a couple of days later, something happens, or someone pisses me off and I feel the blood moving again. Good reading, and I like the way you added some creativity to the mix of straight talk.

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on October 12, 2008:

You are so welcome, Shalini. Thanks for your kind comment!

Shalini Kagal from India on October 12, 2008:

Great writer's block busters! Now to try and put them into practice :) Thanks Sally's Trove!

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on October 12, 2008:

Next time you try this exercise, BT, maybe you want to pick something like a monkey wrench or a cast iron pot? LOL!

Or perhaps you need to write with both forelimbs at the same time to prolong an unwilling attention span just enough to avoid eating your subject?

On the other hand, I do believe you have more than a seed of a story right there with the disappearing tarts. Perhaps it wasn't you who ate them?

What a great start. The list of possibilities is endless! :)

B.T. Evilpants from Hell, MI on October 12, 2008:

I tried this, but I seem to lack in attention span. It went something like this:

On my table is a box of butter tarts. They are golden brown, and have a beautiful gooey...

On my table is half of a box of butter tarts. Gorgeous little jewels of...

On my table is an empty box. It looks so forlorn. A truly sad predicament for a once beautifully adorned container.

Feline Prophet on October 12, 2008:

Hehe...that's exactly the image I was trying to evoke!

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on October 12, 2008:

You are so welcoome, FP.

I like that phrase, 'starting problems'. Like the car engine is having trouble turning over, but once it does, then you're on the road! Nice image. I'm glad you're going to give this exercise a try.

Feline Prophet on October 11, 2008:

Such an interesting hub! I often face 'starting problems' when I write...once I'm past the first para I find the rest just flows. Maybe I need to use this exercise to get past the first obstacle. Thanks Sally. :)

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on September 15, 2008:

Julie-Ann, thanks for reading and commenting!

Julie-Ann Amos from Gloucestershire, UK on September 12, 2008:

Great hub - love it!

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on September 10, 2008:

Block buster article...ROTFLMAO. Love your play on words, Mike.

About dreams, no....I don't remember them all, but enough.

Thanks for the great comment!


mikeq107 on September 10, 2008:

Hi sally!

Just wanted to say really enjoyed your blockbuster article and creative writing style. I bet you remember all your dreams...look forward to reading more of your creation!!!!! Mike Q

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on September 04, 2008:

SweetiePie, your comment really strikes a chord with me. I am much more of a visual person than a reader. getting mental stimulation from what I see rather than what I hear or read. I wonder if you still have that mask and story? :)

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on September 04, 2008:

Jenn, love the "arthritic quill". I have a few of those myself. I keep trying to lose them, but they keep showing up, sort of like bad pennies. :) Thanks for the compliment!

SweetiePie from Southern California, USA on September 03, 2008:

I love the strategies used here. This is something I will come back to the next time I have writer's block. One of my favorite assignments in high school art class was when we had to write a descriptive story about a mask we made.

JennHollowell from Richmond, Maine USA on August 26, 2008:

GREAT hub!!!!! I'll be returning to this one as a reference each time arthritic quill hits. Thank you for such a great resource!

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on August 04, 2008:

Absolutely, Paraglider. Metaphor and analogy are means of making sense of experience. Thank you for reading and commenting.

Dave McClure from Worcester, UK on August 02, 2008:

Lots of interesting ideas here. Wisdom consists in understanding the connections and similarities between seemingly unrelated fields.

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on August 02, 2008:

Marisue, you took this exercise to the place it can go.  Not all writers can do this.  It takes a willingness to shut yourself off from preconceptions about anything and everything and get down to the essence of what you are observing. 

So you were looking at toenails and tadpoles (if not in reality today, then in your memories, or wherever the hell the toenails and tadpoles came from).  And through this exercise you made a leap to reveal to us that you had a salon where you flushed toenail clippings down the poor sewer, and you got tadpoles in your underpants, and you told these wonderful stories for all of us to identify with and ultimately enjoy.  How good is that?

No bowing, TY.  Bow-Wow-Arf would be OK.

Your fan forever, Sally

marisuewrites from USA on August 02, 2008:

I have to say, that I was struggling to think of things to get the hubs up to 100 and do the writing on my other blog sites. Well, I did a piece of this and it worked!!!

In my amateur way, - this is the first time for me to use these steps... but I created the tadpole hub and the toenail hub from using these I don't know if that scares people or encourages...but it worked for me and I thank you so much for writing these steps down and doing your consistently outstanding work.

Bow, Bow. =)))) I LOVE ya.

trish1048 on July 26, 2008:

Oh, ye of great faith! LOL

You're right, now, to get in the right frame of mind to start!

Thanks for commenting :)

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on July 26, 2008:

Well, Trish, I see you have your next 100+ Hub subjects sitting in front of you. All it will take now are the words to bring them to life.

Writer's block for you is demolished forever!


trish1048 on July 26, 2008:

Hmmmmm, ok. I have a problem with Step 1. Describing an object is not the issue for me, it is WHICH ONE??

As you know, my house is chock-full of objects! If I think about it, and I do pick one object, ask myself all the questions you raised about each one, wrote down the answers, well, gee, I could put out probably 100 hubs, and that's just for starters :)

Seriously, thanks for the guidelines, I know I will be referring to them often.

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on July 24, 2008:

Robie2, you are so right about this Hub being a good illustration of how writers work. I hadn't thought about that aspect when I put this piece together.

For the most part, I use this exercise to generate material for expository pieces, but the example I used was a departure from that genre; the delphiniums stepped into fiction or memoir (sometimes hard to tell which is which) instead, precisely because I left myself open.

You had other suggestions for the title, but I liked this one best. :)

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on July 24, 2008:

Thank you so much annemaeve...I'll collect what you owe me at breakfast tomorrow morning. I think I'll have the Threshers' Special, if that's OK with you. :)

Roberta Kyle from Central New Jersey on July 24, 2008:

Well hi, ST-- so see what comes out of a lunchtime discussion about writer's block LOL--this is a fabulous and very useful hub. You just distill the creative process down to its essentials and it not only works for writers with writer's block, but is also a good illustration for non writers of how we work--so often I sit down to write one thing and something else emerges and this is a good illustration of why it's important to be open to that sort of thing. Creativity is always flexible. Happy birthday,thumbs up and thank you for the tip of the hat on the title-- I had forgotten I suggested it:-)

annemaeve from Philly Burbs on July 24, 2008:

Sally, thank you for yet another engaging, useful, fun hub! My problem with writing isn't so much a "block" as a "severe procrastination", but I can see how this exercise would help ease me into working at a brisk and happy pace.

We all owe you for this one!

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on July 24, 2008:

Tyhill27, you put into words what a lot of us feel when we've finally put our thoughts down on paper, we know we've written a good piece, and yet we fixate on re-working it. I think all of us could potentially revise until the cows come home. But at some point we have to abandon the revisions and put an end to our efforts; otherwise, no one would ever read what we write. I don't think that's writer's block. That's the inability to let go.

I know when I get to the frustrating point you describe, I just have to walk away. Sometimes that means physically getting up and going somewhere else, and sometimes it means asking a trusted writer friend for comments. In either case, when I come back to the piece after being away from it, or after looking at the comments of others and making any necessary changes based on what they say, I can usually end that frustrating behavior.

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

Regards, Sally

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on July 24, 2008:

FlyingPanther, I'm so sorry I didn't see your comment until now. Thanks so much for reading and leaving the good words. Yes, I owe you some news!

Tyhill27 from Red Deer, Alberta on July 23, 2008:

Good Work, Great Essay! I can't say that I have ever had writers block before because I am not really a writer yet. Sure I have written lots before and am learning but coming up with something to write about is easy for me. The problem for is that it takes a long time to get my thoughts organized and on paper. I could write and write, and re-write everything. Or spend hours trying to make it better some how. Is this writer’s block? Anyhow Thanks again for the ideas and questions. Ty

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on July 21, 2008:

Thanks, dayzeebee! Writer's block is dreaded, for sure.

Something I didn't spend a lot of time writing about in this Hub is how this exercise may lead to unexpected places, especially if you leave yourself open to accepting whatever feelings and emotions rise to the surface.

In my example above, I originally wanted to tell the story of where delphiniums are grown, how they are handled for commercial delivery, what their meaning is in flower lore, and how you can grow them in your own garden.

However, once I started to describe the flowers as they rested on the table, I began to feel anger. Eventually, the anger led the delphiniums down an entirely different track, to the conclusion of walking out on *Jack*. The story that evolved was quite a surprise to me.

I'm glad you bookmarked this useful exercise. I wonder how it will work for you, and if you wind up with surprises!

Best regards, Sally

dayzeebee from Cebu, Philippines on July 21, 2008:

thumbs up sally. i've bookmarked this hub for easy return trips. now i don't have to worry much about the dreaded writer's block. thanks to you.

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on July 21, 2008:

jonesj64, thank you for stopping by and leaving your good words. For me, this exercise never fails to lift up something useful from the subconscious.

Welcome to HubPages!

Regards, Sally

FlyingPanther from here today gone tomorrow!! on July 21, 2008:

Sally, great hub again you will always amaze me,plz let me know how you are....


jonesj64 from Michigan on July 21, 2008:

This is wonderful, I am always looking for creative ways to get over writer's block. Thanks for the examples also, very useful.

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on July 20, 2008:

That's a neat observation, Neil, about being good enough for the creation of our universe. I never thought of it that way. I guess you could say that each writer is his own universe as well, so this theory should be able to describe that personal universe.

Maybe once you practice this technique, you might want to feature it as a topic for one of your Toastmasters speeches?

Thanks for your insightful comments, Neil. I always enjoy hearing from you.

proudgrandpa from Charlotte, NC on July 20, 2008:

Very useful technique. I guess if it was good enough for the creation of our universe it applies to writing as well. I see a good application for my Toastmasters speeches. I have been known to go stone cold empty head on some of them. Thanks for your hub. NEIL

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on July 20, 2008:

Mon, Bowen, msms, thanks so much for your good words. I have found this exercise to be very useful, and I'm glad that's the way it looks to you, too!

Best regards, S.

msms on July 20, 2008:

Well written and very useful HUB You have given wonderful material

fishskinfreak2008 from Fremont CA on July 20, 2008:

Very useful information on writer's block. Thumbs up

monitor from The world. on July 20, 2008:

Great stuff. THis is what we all needed to read.

Thank you.

Your fan.


Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on July 19, 2008:

Glycodoc, sounds like you and Lissie might be facing similar challenges. When I originally learned about this technique, I used it on expository writing projects, with good results. I hope you let us know how it works for you.

As for Jack, well, I think he was more than a little hard on me, and eventually he did get what he deserved. The good news is that I can be at ease about it now, something I could never do at the time.

Best regards, S.

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on July 19, 2008:

Marisue, I look forward to anything and everything you have to say!

You may be the one writer I know right now who doesn't seem to need some kind of anti-block stimulus. Your writings have been flowing in delightful and thoughtful deep, penetrating streams.

But I am so glad you might want to try this exercise.

Your fan, S.

glycodoc on July 19, 2008:

I have been trying to write an article for my blog for days and just haven't been able to do it. Your article is very interesting and I will now have to see if I can do it! David

PS: I think you were a little hard on Jack

marisuewrites from USA on July 19, 2008:

I'm going to read this again and again and let this soak in...I have not tried it yet, but I intend to! I think many writers will be thanking you for this hub, Sally!!! You astound me!

This is hugely valuable for us all!!

Its late on my birthday but I wanted to read this before going to bed...I'll be reading again tomorrow...=) more comments after I do the know me, I'll be back with a lot to say haha

Sherri (author) from Southeastern Pennsylvania on July 19, 2008:

Lissie, I admit it's a stretch to use this exercise to come up with practical, timely, journalistic, information. But, believe me, it can work for you. Anything you write for a client or a blog has a particle (object), which can or will change over time (perhaps the change is what you suggest the reader does with the object), and belongs to a broader landscape.

Thank you so much for being the first to punch a hole here!

Best regards, S.

Elisabeth Sowerbutts from New Zealand on July 19, 2008:

Its an interesting approach - I can see how it would work for creative wrtiing but my blocks are specific: on a topic I have to write for a client or a blog !

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