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Amy Lou Jenkins is the award-winning author of Every Natural Fact: Five Seasons of Open-Air Parenting

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Having fun with clustering and nonlinear outlining
By D'Arcy Mayo      

Don't wait for writing inspiration

Find links for more inspirational articles after the article

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Ask yourself if you have quick, effect ways of breaking through the mental blocks that stop you coming up with  fresh ideas?

The two techniques offered here may be for writers yet anyone faced with the challenge of idea creation will benefit from applying them whenever the mental cogs jam up.

  The Playful Way to Serious Writing  "a way to break that shell of fear," "bypass the inner voice that stops you" and " lose yourself like a child in the magic of creating."

Traditional forms of outlining rely upon a linear
approach based upon the logical, functioning of
your left-brain. This produces a neatly sequential
format which automatically carries us from one
concept to the next and keeps our writing focused
on each point.

This focus, despite its benefits, is a major deficiency  of linear outlining. Henriette Anne Klauser puts it this way:  "The fallacy ... is believing that the concepts we leave  behind have been thoroughly thought out and needs no

Clustering and non-linear outlining overcomes this
deficiency by radiating out in a naturally expansive
way to grow organically from your central concept.

Afterthoughts become some of the most valuable aspects of your final outline. You find yourself being able to retrace your steps and easily add in these new ideas without disrupting the neat structure that you would have if you'd started with a linear approach. It defies the 'begin at the beginning' shibboleth of many writing schools. You can start anywhere you wish and leap about
in any direction your creative senses wish.

Three good books on this topic are:

# Writing on Both Sides of the Brain
by Henriette Anne Klauser

# Writing the Natural Way
by Gabriele Lusser Rico

# Use Both Sides Of Your Brain
by Tony Buzan


If you:

1.Allow your ideas to dictate the flow of your outline;
2.Do not impose any pattern on your efforts;
3.Let your natural creativity run rampant;

then your material will form its own patterns in
wondrous ways that will sometimes astound you.

Start at the centre of a blank sheet of paper
and write your central idea inside a circle.

This can be a single word, symbol, drawing or
anything that represents to you the main point
that you want to write about. After this, you
will switch from conscious (judgmental) thinking
to instinctive (non-judgemental) subconscious activity.

Branch out from your central idea for at least
ten minutes. Add every thought that comes to mind
no matter how silly it may sound.

Turn the paper around, doodle, let structures form
of their own accord.

If the page fills to overflowing, start a new page.

Keep going until you've rung the last idea from your
mind and then push a little further. Add another line
or two, even if you've got no conception of what you'll
write on it. Often you'll spark that extra idea you
thought didn't exist.

Did you keep going for the minimum time?

If not, why not?

Did you hit a "wall"?

Then just keep your pen moving.

The ideas will come.

Trust yourself.

Now that you have your ideas clustered, move back
into the left-brain mode and proceed to group key
concepts in preparation for the writing to begin.

D'Arcy Mayo is a freelance writer and originator of the
Practical Spirituality concept and editor of the newsletter
Spirituality In Action or mailto:DArcy@M...


More writing inspiration and exercises:

Write Your Way To New Possibilities

Boosting Your Creativity

What to Write About

Innovative Ideas for Writing

Fit to Write