|search.creativecommons.org, Bob Nicols|
"Just as many natural forms come in clusters--grapes, lilacs, spider eggs, cherries--so thoughts and images, when given free rein, seem to come in clusters of associations."--Gabriele Lusser Rico
I'm a believer in clustering--the writing kind that is, though I do like grapes, lilacs and cherries, too (spider eggs, not so much). Surprising insights have popped for me when I've played around with the technique.
Gabriele Lussen Rico describes clustering in Writing the Natural Way, Using Right-Brain Techniques to Release Your Expressive Powers. "Nature," she writes, "operates by profusion. Think of the nearly infinite numbers of seeds that fall to earth, only a fraction of which take root to become trees; of those five thousand or so drones that exist solely to ensure the fertilization of one queen bee...Similarly, human beings engaged in the creative process explore an astronomical number of possible patterns before settling on an idea.
"Clustering is the master key to natural writing. It is the crucial first step for bypassing our logical, orderly Sign-mind (Rico uses this term for left brain thinking, Design-mind for right) consciousness to touch the mental life of daydream, random thought, remembered incident, image, or sensation."
In clustering, "a nucleus word or short phrase acts as the stimulus for recording all the associations that spring to mind in a very brief period of time." After setting forth that nucleus word, the writer is encouraged to "simply let go and begin to flow with any current of connections" that come to mind, writing them down rapidly, "each in its own circle radiating outward from the center in any direction." Connect each new word with a line to the preceding circle. When something new and different strikes you, begin again at the central nucleus.
Exploration. Patterns. Associations. Connections. The stuff that writers are made of!
Yep, I'm a believer in clustering. Are you? What techniques do you use to replace writing anxiety with a sense of play?
In case you'd care to read more on the subject of clustering, you might want to check out: