All writers look for a writing process which makes writing EASY. Me too. For years writing was a HUGE struggle for me. Not only did I procrastinate endlessly, I made everyone around me miserable with my whining. Then In 1985, I took Larry Block’s Write for Your Life seminar in NYC, and that was a turning point.
The same trip, I spent the long flight from LAX to Sydney engrossed in the first edition of Writing the Natural Way, and that was another turning point. I’ve been a fan of clustering ever since.
In the image above, you can see an example of clustering, which I created for the Speed Writing audio in Copywriting You Can Do. Basically, with clustering, you chose a nucleus keyword, and create a cluster around it. Here’a a longer explanation of clustering.
Clustering Helps You to Write From Your Deep Mind.
Our new program, on authentic writing, is currently with beta testers, who are working with the exercises.
From that program:
Here’s why clustering is important to authentic writing. Clustering helps you to mine your subconscious mind BEFORE you write. When you write with your conscious mind, your writing tends to be all surface — you’re writing what you’re thinking consciously, and you struggle to go deeper.
Struggling doesn’t work, because your inner editor gets in the way. Clustering gets rid of your inner editor, and helps you to access the deeper part of your mind, so that your writing is authentically you.
We’ll be doing lots of clustering in this program. It’s very easy. There’s no struggling, and you can’t cluster “wrong”. Clustering is fun, too. You’ll be amazed at how much easier all your writing becomes when you make clustering part of your writing process. It gives you direct access to your subconscious mind.
I created the program on authentic writing for my writing students. Many struggle, not because they can’t write – they’re excellent writers, and the better they are, the more they struggle to write authentically. They’re inclined to procrastination, they struggle to create, and are dissatisfied with what they create, when they eventually write. More on that program soon. 🙂
Your Inner Editor Will Choke Off Your Creativity.
Clustering helps you to outwit your inner editor. I use clustering for most projects. I did a cluster for this article, too. Clustering takes around three to five minutes. However, the time and effort it saves is immeasurable.
- Choose any word which pops into your head as your nucleus word;
- Let your mind drift. Clustering works by association, like your brain. So if nonsense words pop up, write them down. They’ll lead to other associations. You’ll be amazed at the insights you develop – and how much easier writing becomes;
- You’ll sense when you’re done with a cluster. Write a summary in two or three sentences. Or write an insight. Then start writing on the project you’re clustering;
- Clustering works for all kinds of writing, from copywriting, to writing books, and writing fiction. I cluster all my fiction characters, plots, scenes, and right throughout the editing process;
- Keep your cluster diagrams. I cluster on paper, then I photograph the diagrams into Evernote. Some diagrams surface a lot of material. When I did the diagram for this article for example, I got a LOT of material – I’ll cluster some words from this diagram for another project.
Clustering Is Fishing.
Look on clustering as fishing in your subconscious mind. You never know when you’ll hook a big one. 🙂 Even if you dislike a project, you’ll become inspired. Follow the energy of your inspirations; let it take you where it wants to go.
If you have no idea where something’s headed, that’s GOOD. Let it gestate for 24 hours, then do another cluster, and you’ll see where it fits into your project. Stephen King talks about his “boys in the basement”; his subconscious mind. Let the boys do your work for you. They’re a part of you, and they’re much better at writing than your surface mind. (They don’t care about the inner editor.)
Clustering allows you to write originally, and well, without obsessing over it. It helps you to develop a fun and easy writing process that’s all your own. I tell my students that “clustering helps you to write anyway, no matter what else is going on in your life.”
Write. Write anyway. 🙂
My Writing Journal: WHY 5AM?
As I mentioned, I’ve begun posting my writing journal on the Creativity Factory Blog. Questions? Please ask.
So far, the most common question is about the 5AM start. I do it because I get more done. If I work on my fiction projects later in the day, I’m too distracted, and my word count is lower.
Many writers have taken Dorothea Brande’s advice:
“The best way to do this is to rise half an hour, or a full hour, earlier than you customarily rise. Just as soon as you can—and without talking, without reading the morning’s paper, without picking up the book you laid aside the night before—begin to write. Write anything that comes into your head: last night’s dream…”
I’ve compared my word counts for years — early start, or later? — and I’ve found that not only do I write more, when I get out of bed before I want to, I write more easily for the rest of the day, so it’s definitely worth it for me. If you try it, please let me know how it works for you. 🙂
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