Blast Through Writers Block: Create a Sensory Collage


Here’s a good exercise to try if you’re stuck, blocked or ready to start a new piece but don’t know what to write:

Take a walk, and bring a notebook. Jot down things you see, hear, smell, feel, touch and experience. Use all your senses.

Include everything:

  • bits of conversation—not just the words but also the tone of the language and the postures of the speakers
  • neighborhood signs—their messages and their visual style
  • changing cloud formations and the things they bring to mind for you
  • the exact color of the sky
  • a crying or laughing baby—how it sounds and how it makes you feel
  • the scent, texture and color of blooming flowers
  • dogs checking each other out or chasing squirrels
  • traffic—the sound, smell and look of it
  • the sights, sounds and smells of trees you encounter
  • the color and texture of the hair of anyone you pass
  • the items people are holding or carrying

These are just a few ideas—be sure to include everything that catches your attention. And pay attention to everything around you as you walk.

Then find a place to sit such as a park bench, cafe, picnic table, the ground, your car … whatever works for you.

Now combine several of the sensory images you’ve gathered and use them to create a story, essay, poem or any other piece of writing. Play around with the images and try different things, just as you would if you were making a collage. If one combination doesn’t work, try something else. Write something silly or dark or absurd or uncharacteristic of you. Have fun as you fit the puzzle pieces together in different ways.

I like this exercise because it combines the physical activity of walking with the mental and emotional experience of collecting bits of what you experience. It gets you away from staring at a blank piece of paper. And combining things in new ways always engages the muse.

Let me know how you like this exercise, or share your creations!

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2 Responses to “Blast Through Writers Block: Create a Sensory Collage”


  1. 1 maggiequinn May 21, 2014 at 1:08 am

    This article of yours is interesting and challenged me to examine the environment in which I live. I looked for colour and these were so subtle as to be almost not there. It is less than a week since the last patch of dirty snow melted awake. There are no flowers anywhere. Even the crocuses did not appear this year. I used to look forward to tulips at this time of year but these all disappeared a few years back. I guess they must all have been eaten by those cute little squirrels. In any case, thank you for inspiring me to write. I even managed a dismal poem which I shall post on my page.

    • 2 stranglingmymuse May 21, 2014 at 11:10 am

      Interesting — so you were seeing what wasn’t there, as well as the subtle colors that were there. I’d love to see your poem, if you feel like posting a link here. Thanks for sharing your experience, Maggie, and good luck with all your creative endeavors!

      ~Sandy


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Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach and Writer.

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