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Writer's Block/Expressing a conceptual idea


I have a question I hope you can help me with or point me in some directions that might help.
I am writing something which is partially conceptual in nature.  Conceptual in that it is more of an idea to be applied broadly and abstracted, if need be, rather than an "ABC" or "123" template.  It has to do with self defense and how any single movement, which might be understood to be perhaps a block or a strike, could be abstracted or interpreted for many other applications.  I am finding it difficult to express it in writing and am looking for input on not to have it done for me but to give me a nudge in the right direction and a "jumping off" place so I can express it in my own words.  So, I guess my question is just what are your thoughts on that and and what "nudges" you might have for me.  Thank you in advance for your thoughts!

Dear Robert,

I make no claim to knowledge about self-defense, but I do understand the problems of explaining concepts, ideas, and abstract thoughts.

I think the beginning of your explanation is already in your question:

“Any single movement, which might be understood to be perhaps a block or a strike, could be abstracted or interpreted for many other applications.”

Let's play around with that.

I'm assuming you’ve already explained what blocks and strikes are, and that a block is a defensive movement and a strike is an offensive movement. (I understand that the art of self-defense does not include going on the offense to attack others.)

I'm also assuming that, by “many other applications," you mean a block or strike can be one part of the flow of other actions. That means you get many next choices after each block or strike you engage in.

If I am wrong about any of these assumptions, please let me know and help me understand the problem better.

At this point, you’re explaining a concept, not an entire philosophy, at least not yet. Let your first draft sound a bit academic if it needs to and then go back later and replace the fancy language with simpler but still accurate words.

Here goes my take on it:

“In self defense, patterns of movement aren’t necessarily predictable, but they must be practiced in order to teach your body how to flow from one movement to another. Any single movement, which could be either a block or a strike, can flow into many other actions. At the same time, your mind is totally focused, not overthinking but seamlessly directly your body’s movements.”

As you explain further, you could start with a familiar analogy or comparison and then build from it to make your point.

You could maybe use an analogy to another sport, like baseball, where serious hitters practice hundreds of times in batting cages, or basketball, where players like Michael Jordan teach their bodies to be responsive engines that work in unison with their creative minds.

It might also make sense to give a couple of examples from self defense, perhaps one series of movements for a block and one for a strike. Then, starting to move away from the analogy, you could explain that every single professional physical contest has unique rules and sequences.  However, every individual player performs differently during each event. What makes the real difference is mindset and training.

At this point, if you’re sure your learner/reader gets the message, you can let the analogy drop away and transition to the next part of the topic.

Once again, please don’t hesitate to let me know if I'm off base (so to speak)!

Best regards,  

Writer's Block

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Frances S. Ponick


EXPERTISE: Unblocking communications is the main focus here, so all questions are answered publicly. I will answer questions from adults who are struggling with a book, a major report for an employer, a dissertation, or something equally hefty in business, science, or academics. I can help if you absolutely have to write something and can't get started, or if you've started writing and don't know what to do next. If you need help beyond individual questions, I also offer personal coaching, book doctoring, or critiques and analysis. I can answer questions about your novel, your journal, or your poem if you are under the gun because of a contract deadline or some other legal or workplace pressure. Unblocking communications is the main focus here, so I don't accept questions marked private.


Independent book doctor, author coach. Author of "Only Angels Can Wing It: Write a Eulogy Quickly and Present It Compassionately" and "101 Telephone Interview Tips for Speakers of English as a Second Language". Other titles in progress. Director of Publications at MENC: The National Association for Music Education, the largest nonprofit arts education association in the world. 1997–2008. Recruited experienced authors and developed novice authors. Their names are listed below in “Past and Current Clients,” and their books can be viewed on At conventions, gave presentations to nonprofessional writers: “How to Get an Article Published,” “How to Write a Book,” “The Publications Process,” “Working with Your Editor,” and similar subjects. Coached book authors and taught staff editors to coach authors. Ghost-wrote forewords for books, endorsements, speeches, marketing materials, presentations, proposals, technical writing, executive summaries, press releases, and other projects. Co-owner, Edge City Press. The Logic of Microspace, a collection of essays on rocket science used as a textbook at the U.S. Air Force Academy (2000). Senior Technical Writer/Marketing Support Specialist, Unisys Corporation, Publications and Engineering departments, 1984–93. S and TS clearances. Designed and taught classes in administrative, business, and technical writing. Wrote and rewrote all types of technical documentation, including proposals. Senior Technical Writer, Informatics General, Rockville, Maryland, 1982–83. Sole writer to thirty-five member Federal Marketing Organization. Conceived and created, wrote and edited numerous marketing brochures, commercial and government proposals. Designed document formats, provided hands-on assistance to technical personnel with documentation assignments, and edited their completed work.

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