Cluster diagrams and exploratory writing

I have one word and I have to write a thousand word article in a day. How do I start? I am as perplexed as a dog whose family just brought home a new kitten.

I take out an unlined sheet of paper and start with that one word. Then, I work my brain. I am an average person. What would interest me? I think about that and write down other words around that first word. I create sprockets around my words. I now have a wheel.

Each sprocket has a word that holds a significant idea. It is not just a topic outline, but an idea generator. From each new word, I know that I can draw new sprockets. If I am not careful, I will have an overwhelming amount of information for my tidy thousand word article.

It is called a cluster diagram and I don’t know the first time when I first heard about it. The technique really helps me. In many different classes and on the job as a writer, this tool has come in handy.

I don’t stop at the first wheel. I spin another set of ideas off of the first wheel and soon there is another set of sprockets with more wheels around them. These fill in questions raised by the previous set of words.

In the example here, I started with “cats.” Then, I considered words that conveyed ideas that I would have liked to write about concerning cats. In “behavior,” for example, I wondered whether cats play together because they are taught or because they just know. That’s why in the next set of sprockets I wrote the word “play” out from behavior.

Cluster Diagram, 2020.

With this cluster diagram in hand, my research will be a breeze. I can place my words into search engines or in interview questions to learn a lot about my topic or central question.

If I had not completed this diagram, I would have never known that Queen Nefertiti of Ancient Egypt had 500 cats. And here I thought that I suffered from kitty litter overload!

Thanks for reading. Peace.

3 thoughts on “Cluster diagrams and exploratory writing

  1. Wow, this reminds me of mind mapping, and I never really thought of using it as a tool for writing. I might want to give it a go tonight. Thanks for sharing, Helen!


  2. Awesome! I never thought of doing this word mapping thing. Brilliant and funny. Thanks Helen.


    1. You’re welcome Neva. Keep calm and write on.


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