Friday, May 08, 2009

Brainstorming, Clustering and Freewriting: Methods to Unfreeze Your Muse

Brainstorming, Clustering and Freewriting: Methods to Unfreeze your Muse

Brainstorming: Breaking Down the Barriers

Brainstorming helps break typical thought patterns which lead to a boring, predictable plot.

Group Brainstorming

1. To do brainstorming you need to narrow down what the problem is first.
2. Try minor increments such as 10-15 minutes. If you happen to do this in a large group, you may need a longer time limit.
3. Have a person designated as the one who writes out the suggestions called out by the participants/critique partners.
4. No criticizing any of the ideas called out. Laughing is okay.
5. Examine the ideas. Which will provide a plot twist?

Individual Brainstorming

1. Decide what you need to brainstorm on such as character or plot.
2. As ideas occur write them down, but don’t analyze them. These can come as words, phrases or sentences.
3. After you’re finished see if you can put what you’ve written in groups.

Try each of these methods and have fun while doing it.

Clustering and Freewriting

Freewriting is similar to clustering and both can be fun.

For freewriting to work, a goal is needed before you start.

Example: A character’s name or what it means or how you envision this person. When freewriting you are supposed to turn off your inner critic and just write.

Freewriting is nonstop writing. You let your ideas flow in a steady stream and continue for the time limit you’ve set. Keeping your pen or pencil moving is the goal. Don’t punctuate and if you get a new idea write it and keep going. Try five or ten minutes.

Clustering uses key words that are connected. Write a word in the middle of the page. From that word, begin writing other words that are associated. Circle the words then connect them with lines. A cluster begins to form. You can branch off other words too.

Example: Write apple in the middle of the page. Crisp, red, sweet and pie all come to mind. This can help when you need to expand on connections with words and the associations from this clustering chain.
After you have your clusters finished, you separate them into bite-sized, mini paragraphs, while elaborating on others.


Clustering has helped jump start my muse by focusing on one area when I needed clarification with description or layering with some of the senses.

Breaking up the writing process into manageable pieces keeps me from feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed. This might work for you too.

I hope some of these suggestions will help get your muse off and running.

Tambra Kendall/Keelia Greer

Out now from Keelia Greer: A Cursed Heart from Red Rose Publishing
Coming this month from Tambra: Cowboy of the Night from Red Rose Publishing

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posted by Tambra at 4:43 am


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