The Dec. issue of Writers Digest arrived this week with an impressive array of articles/tools that address how creativity "dances" between the logical and the intuitive sides of our brain. FYI, you can pick this magazine up at a bookstore or order it at the link above.
One of these articles, Meeting of the Minds, by Michael Vaughn, describes how the two sides of our brain (logical/intuitive) develop. He discusses several tools or games we can use to move into the right brain for our writing. One of these tools is the "cluster technique" developed by Dr. Gabriele Rico in her book Writing the Natural Way. You can view this technique at her website.
I had the joy of working with Dr. Rico at a 5-day writer's retreat during the summer of 1999. We practiced the cluster technique during the entire workshop. I found it powerful, especially because she gave us a time limit for each cluster exercise. That time constraint had the effect of limiting the damage from my inner critic!
You can also read some examples of what I wrote back in 1999 from some of those cluster exercises, if you'd like additional illustration of this technique.
In this 1st example of a timed (5 min.) cluster, we were asked to place the words "You are" on the page, drawing a circle around it to form the center cluster and build from there. I wrote five words, each splitting off from the center cluster and I focused on the word "writing." From that word "writing" I created a secondary cluster with these words branching off: looking glass mirror, fear faced, soul's diary, trivia's corner, heart expressed, frustration, exhilaration.
In the next timed segment, I penned this:
You are both pain and salvation.
The tortuous ascent up the mountain
and the glorious summit view.
You hold up truth like a 3-sided mirror,
reflecting angles and views previously unseen.
You intoxicate, frustrate, illuminate, exaggerate,
dictate, and exhilarate.
I can't live with you, or without you.
We also clustered around emotions, verbs, autobiographical snapshots, movie stars, and silly stuff.
Here is one of my autobiographical snapshots:
"A Wordless Encounter in '73"
He hopped on his Honda and rode.
Three hours later . . . hot, thirsty,
buggy from the ride,
he knocks on her door.
She opens it.
He silently holds up the diamond engagement ring.
She looks at it, takes it from and hand, and cries.
Reaching up on shaking legs, she kisses him.
He hears her unspoken answer -
"Yes, I'll marry you."