Explanation: CLUSTER VIGNETTES
The writing technique which has been, for me, that which produces the most value for the effort made, was originally learned in a book by Gabrielle Ricco called "Writing the Natural Way", which as originally taught involves a single blank sheet of paper and a pen, then on upper third of the blank sheet of paper, write a theme word or short phrase to be the seed focus for the writing and circle the word with an ellipse. Then look at that word or phrase and free associate with it to stimulate a new word or short phrase, write it somewhere in the upper third of page, draw a circle around it and connect the central seed word to the new word. Then free associate another word or phrase to the central word, or "nuclear word" as Gabrielle Ricco calls the seed circled word, circle the new word and again draw a line from the central word up to that new circled word. Continue the free associating with the central seed word, circling and connecting to the central seed word, keeping in the upper third of the sheet of paper, until you have a feeling of having something to write about. Then shift to the bottom two thirds of the sheet of paper, and write what you have to say that is your inspiration about the nuclear word and its associations in your mind now. Ought to take no more than about 8 minutes of writing. Nearing bottom of page or when feeling done with the vignette's writing, add a final line after re-reading the first sentence you wrote above, and tie the end back to the beginning in that last sentence. Using this cookbook-like technique in a casual effort, I have fond is one of the best uses of time and effort when it comes to starting writing.
RESULTS: Over the decades I have found that this consistently produces a writing that looks pretty good to myself the next day, unlike much of my writing that I do which looks like junk the next day. Although it takes self-discipline for me to take the time to draw the cluster diagram before writing something, it has always been well worth the time and effort to do so. And in fact, it seems to have a bit of lasting improvement in my mental integrated thinking afterwards.
RELATED PROCESSES; A related tool is called "Mind Mapping" and is attributed to Tony Buzzan, which only involves something like the cluster diagram but expanded in multiple chain links. Software exists to produce such diagrams, but when I tried them for doing the Cluster Vignettes on my computer, I did not find any that worked to do that magical creativity that Ricco's clustering process does for me.
CAN IT BE COMPUTERIZED?: Maybe it took the actual process of using the hand to draw the cluster diagram so as to produce the brief integration in the mind, that stimulates the insights, I wondered. Eventually I was able to produce a semblance of the cluster diagram and useful vignette writing resulting, using a drawing program called Inkscape, but it did not have a direct way to export it to some web page useful format. I was able to capture a picture of teh cluster diagram and text as if the whole thing was a graphic, and I have some examples linked below. However, I have now found an adequately convenient computerized way to do a vignette's writing, which involves a template page containing a blank table which has three rows and three columns - I chose because long ago I read that the typical maximum number of things a person can mentally grasp at one instnt is only about seven on average, about the number of senses that a person can integrate in life moments. And this does seem to work for me; and being done on computer it then has a way to find it again fairly easily. And, I don't have to transcribe it in via typing and having to read my own sometimes ragged handwriting. So that is what is being described in this section, with examples of recent cluster diagram like written vignettes.
COMPROMISING WITH COMPUTER NEEDS: Although I still like the old familiar feel of the handwritten diagram and page of Gabrielle Ricco's Cluster Diagram Vignette writing technique, this computerized version has become a useful compromise for now.
TEMPLATE MAKES FOR QUICK EASY USE: I have added a template page which gets loaded by the computer, ready for filling in of the central seed word or phrase, and then scattering in the free associations around it, filling in the table, and when all nine cells in the table are filled in, it is go for some writing then, whatever comes to mind at the instant.
Maybe the reader would like to try it too.
EXAMPLES: Here is the sequence of examples in the above chain of thought. Click on the browser's "back" button to return here after looking at each one, or if getting lost, go for the "home" link at upper right and work your way back.
An Inkscape version of a cluster vignette:
A basic template-started table version of the cluster diagram writing process:
A latest version which also has the template including at the top, a table diagram which includes a description of forms of life experiences, as maybe stimulators"
Copyright © 2008 James E. D. Cline. Permission granted to reproduce providing inclusion of a link back to this site and acknowledgment of the author and concept designer James E. D. Cline.