When I cluster, I feel very relaxed to spill out my thoughts randomly. I feel no pressure. To me, it’s like a vacation before the work begins. It’s fun to sit and think about all of your experiences which could relate to a single topic. Once my thoughts are set before my eyes in written form, it’s much easier to organize them and to write about them. They seem to trigger my pen into action, whereas, without clustering, my mind seems paralyzed. Clustering is like a warm-up exercise before the ballet class; it’s slow, stretching, and relaxing. --Anon.
Clustering – Like Taking a Picture
Clustering helps make writing for me more like taking a picture. It gives me the opportunity to see the whole before trying to tackle a part, or to see a part before trying to tackle the whole.
When I first started school, the idea of having to write was frightening. Now I look forward to writing and do it more and more. I still have a lot of mechanical problems, but I enjoy writing, and putting thoughts on paper helps to clarify them in my mind.
In the beginning of this semester, I’d sit down at my desk, take a sheet of paper, and proceed to think up sentences one at a time, write them down, turn them into paragraphs, re-read them, and discover they had no flow of thought. What was I trying to say? How was I to organize my thoughts so they made sense. I was having a lot of trouble, and frustrations built inside.
Clustering didn’t relieve all those frustrations. Whenever I write or try to solve any problem of any kind, I experience a lot of frustration: that’s merely part of the process. But clustering helps me see the light at the end of the tunnel, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Once I see the end – the point or main focus – I know better what to put in the middle and beginning to provide an even flow of thoughts.
Believing that I will always take pictures in order to see better and express those sights, so will I always cluster to write better.
I sat down down to work in order to catch up on some “idea entries” when my mother stood over my shoulder noticing my clustering. Puzzled, she inquired, “Why are you fooling around making circles when you have work to do?”
It seemed a silly idea to her and it did to me also when I first thought about it. However, I have come to admire those little circles. For it is those circles with words in them that generate thoughts, bring back experiences, and enable me to use my mind to the utmost.
Clustering can be summed up in one word -- “wonderful.” I have learned something that I will carry with me the rest of my life. That is, I have learned to generate ideas. Thank goodness for those little circles. --Anonymous
A Knee-jerk Reaction to Clustering
As if propelled by unknown forces, I find myself attending a Writers’ Workshop; an inspiring photo-journalist introduces me to the phenomenon of clustering and, as if dining at a Whole Earth restaurant, I am beseeched to “do it” the natural way. With a sense of urgency, I purchase the appropriate textbook and, from that time on, I live in another dimension.
Cluster, cluster, cluster! I am now clustering everything. At a Sisterhood meeting, the speaker is philosophizing about “changing family lifestyles,” and what am I doing? I’m clustering on my pad around the nucleus words “family,:” “life,” and “style.” My friend sitting next to me discreetly tries to decipher my doodles and asks “did she say all that just now?” Not wanting to admit that I haven’t heard a word for several minutes because I’m presenting arbitrating between my sign and design minds, I just shrug my shoulder nonchalantly and whisper “no, these are my own words.”
Well, that’s exactly what I am doing right now. It’s 2:30 a.m. Lot of ideas are recurring. My left brain is telling my right brain that I should be in bed sleeping because tomorrow I have a very busy schedule at work. My right brain with, what I perceive as real temerity, replies “for 53 years you have played havoc with me – always domineering, opinionated, and calculating – now I finally feel good about myself, and will do as I please. YOU go to bed, I’m going to cluster some more! --Marion Wolff