1: Pick a Topic Write the word or phrase you want to brainstorm on in the middle of a sheet of paper. Circle it. Baby ducks
2: Noodle and Free Associate What comes to mind when you think about the subject? Accept whatever comes up. Draw an arrow, write the new thought and circle it in its own bubble. Baby ducks Fuzzy, yellow
3: Follow the Thought to Completion What do you think of next? Arrow out, write it down and circle it. Eventually, you gracefully arrive at the end of that thought process. Then just stop that line. Baby ducks Fuzzy, yellow Cute, quacking Precious
4: Start a New Chain of Thought What else do you think about the topic? Start a new arrow from the first bubble and chain out again. Follow it to its end. Waddling in a row Following mama Rigid single file Land or water Baby ducks Fuzzy, yellow Cute, quacking Precious
5: Do as Many Chains as Feels Right While youre clustering your thought processes, images, meanings, metaphors are assembling. You will get an aha! feeling and want to write. Baby ducks Fuzzy, yellow Cute, quacking Precious Waddling in a row Following mama Rigid single file Land or water Hidden eggs Babies chip thru Wet then fuzzy Mobile, cheeping Imprinting Shoes Aha!
6: Let Your Prose (or Poetry) Flow! Your whole brain has been working in the background to come up with a resonant theme. Just write, letting it flow and leaving editing for later. The Mother, to Her Nest Sleep snug and well, my treasure, my beautiful ones, for tomorrow you will rise and shake yourselves dry. The long quest for direction and purpose comes soon enough, a lock-step parade imprinted in our cells. For now you are perfect potential, beaks soft and guileless, eyes seeing nothing but the exquisite contours of home. This is what actually flowed out of me on this exercise…
Principles of Clustering Dr. Rico says our left brain/editor brain often takes over when we write. Its focused on grammar, rules, punctuation. But the fresh metaphors, sensory details, in-the- moment immediacy? They live in our right brain. By not using sentence cues, clustering bypasses left brain control to allow the whole brain to collaborate, hook up our unique experiences, images, thoughts, emotions, etc. about the topic. Writing the Natural Way, Gabriele Rico, PhD
How I Use Clustering Its great on essay questions in tests! Really organizes what you know on the topic. Its my first action when planning a story; often I cluster on the title, or each main characters name. I also cluster on chapters or scenes to get a focus on the mood. Very often one bubble in a chain will wind up applying to another chain, so I hook them up with arrows. Compelling writing: you can explain things intellectually and your reader might cogitate on it. But when you get them to feel emotion (which is very much what this does), its the most effective way to change someones mind. Plus, I often get insights into myself when I cluster on topics. Hope this is useful! THE END