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About the Author:

With a tender heart, a drive for learning and a gift for sharing, Margaret brings her years of experience as a licensed professional counselor and a woman of faith to all her writings. Her insights and biblical understanding bring home principles we all can use - no matter the circumstances we are in.


Writing Coach Corner

Creative Clustering

By Margaret Cook, M.Ed., Licensed Professional Counselor, Life Coach


This month’s column is like Christmas morning for writers! Remember that as a Next-Step-of-Faith contributor, you may want to engage in some word play, new writing experiences and remember you can qualify for free introductory coaching for writers.

One way to get started or to generate new ideas when you get stuck is to engage in a creative process. What gets your words flowing? Get ready to write your next article by trying this pre-writing exercise to warm up and create insights that can be included in your Next-Step-of-Faith article. This exercise is called “clustering.” You take a word or idea and put it on a page in a circle. Then you “brainstorm” related ideas around the thought you started with on the page. Each of the related words you generate can also spin into new relationships and ideas that center around the themes you are generating – hence, the term clustering. The writer can generate clusters of ideas that multiply off of each other and generate creative ideas that can be incorporated into the writing.

Take a blank piece of paper, get something to write with and try this today. Start with a word or idea that excites you. Maybe you would like the word “Christmas” or “Advent.”

Use the exercise to stimulate your creativity and don’t evaluate the ideas as you generate them. Let the ideas surprise you – like opening the packages under your Christmas tree. Work until your ideas stop coming and know that when you are finished, you can pick and choose what to include in your writing. Next month’s article will be about outlining and how you can organize the information you generate from this non-linear method of exploring themes to include in your writing.

Here are a few examples from the internet of clustering:

Writing the Natural Way vignettes

Writer’s Web

An Article by Vicki Meade

If you haven’t read Writing the Natural Way, consider adding it to your Christmas wish list. Every writer can improve with this holiday reading recommendation. Enjoy this glorious time of the year and may it inspire you with writing ideas and joy that will last throughout the New Year!

Copyright © November 30, 2006 – Margaret Cook. All rights reserved.
Permission to use or duplicate this article is available by contacting the author at

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