Freewriting is a term used to describe writing whatever comes into your mind for a specified period of time, usually 10 to 20 minutes. I recommend keeping the pen (or fingers) moving, continuing to write the entire time and not letting yourself pause or think too much, The benefits to this technique include overcoming writer’s block, allowing deeper emotions and thoughts to emerge, and letting go of self-judgment.
To perform a word association exercise, write the trigger word at the top of a fresh page of your journal. Then, under it, write the next word that pops into your mind. Immediately write the next word that pops into your mind. Don’t censor and don’t think too much about it. Associations may be bizarre and may run off with themselves. Everything is fine. Just keep writing until no more words pop into your head.
When you’re done writing, review the words and see if you notice any patterns or trends. Pay particular attention to emotional associations (how the words feel to you).
Deepen your understanding of feelings, thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs by repeating what you’ve written using key phrases. Decide which phrase to use, then repeat its use until you feel that you’ve gotten to the core of an issue.
- What I mean by __________ is …
- Why _________ ?
- Of what does _________ remind me of?
- If ________ happens, then ________.
Example: I might write, “Whenever I think of A, I feel guilty.” I select the first key phrase and continue with, “What I mean by guilty is self-recrimination, as though I have not acted the way I want or am expected to. … What I mean by expected is that I feel pressure to be more like B than who I really am …” and so on.
Creative clustering is a process that allows your mind to creatively associate images, thoughts, and feelings to concepts.
- Write a word or phrase in the center of a blank page and circle it. This is your “nucleus.” Letting the playful part of you take over, write whatever association comes to mind when you think of that word or phrase. And let the writing radiate outward from the center.
- Draw a circle around each associated word or phrase that comes to you. Don’t think too long or analyze, just keep letting those associations flow. If you need to, feel free to doodle or draw directional arrows, while allowing your mind to remain in an unfocused state.
- Continue writing associations and ideas triggered by your nucleus for a minute or two.
- At some point, you will feel a strong urge to write. When this happens, take a moment to scan your clustered words. Most often, a sentence, or the beginning of a sentence will come to mind. Write, and keep writing for eight to ten minutes. You don’t have to use all the words or concepts in your cluster.
To see how Creative Clustering works in practice, read this blog post.