By: Marilyn L. Davis
Writing In Isolation
COVID means fewer social or professional interactions with people, and some writers are struggling with getting their ideas written into a workable post. Even without feedback, there are techniques you can use to develop your post. I’ve discovered that brainstorming, looping, and clustering work without interactions with others.
Start With The Idea
You’ve got your idea and what to tell a story, share your knowledge, or write because it’s your job, but you’re uncertain if it has merit. I’ve often said, “I’ve got an idea,” and then used friends, colleagues, and people in groups to see if they’d be interested in a post about the topic. Now, I’m left to wonder in isolation. But I’ve been inspired to write about a particular topic.
Inspiration does not matter; it’s the writer’s job to build on it. So how can you do that without feedback, encouragement, or nudging from others? Think about these:
- What do you know about the topic?
- Why are you focused on this idea instead of all the others clamoring in your mind?
- Where were you when you got this idea?
- Did you read a passage in a book that jiggled and nudged a memory for you?
Once you’ve decided on the topic, what is an excellent way to develop it? Ask yourself the questions you’d expect others to ask.
- What do you know about this topic?
- Are you an expert on the subject?
- What experiences can you write about that lends a new voice to the topic
- Why are you focused on this idea or topic?
- How can you write about the topic that adds new information, focuses on a specific aspect of the subject, or bring personal stories about the topic so that readers want to stay engaged?
These questions, and your answers, give you a sense of the importance to you and sets an emotional tone. These are all important considerations when you decide to write that next article. Each of the five developmental prompts helps you move forward.
We usually think of brainstorming in groups; however, this is solitary brainstorming. Write down every word or phrase that you associate with your idea. Some people find this easier if they have brainstorming categories, similar to having others prompt or spark imagination in the typical group setting.
Brainstorm for five to ten minutes. The key factors are:
- Do not edit
- Don’t judge a response
Take these random associations and begin freewriting.
Create That First Draft
Freewriting is taking those brainstormed ideas and creating sentences and paragraphs without editing. Time yourself for five to 10 minutes and write. Again, don’t edit or judge. While your brainstorming produced words and phrases associated with your idea, these significant associations can become your subheadings.
Now that you’ve got a few sentences, paragraphs, or random musings, try looping these ideas.
We’re all familiar with “Write, revise, repeat,” which is a type of looping. So taking your newest draft, your loop is, “idea, write, reflect.”
Reflection helps cull the valuable for an article from what may have use elsewhere. Put the overflow into your darling file.
There’s another loop that occurs for many of us at this point. We can develop the original, brainstormed idea, or we may find that a tangent is more exciting and develop it into a post, using clustering.
Clustering is a prewriting technique similar to brainstorming, where relationships between words, phrases, or concepts intersect. Remember those parts that did not work; clustering uses those to help you create sub-pages or elements of a series or even the book from your original topic.
See Where You Can Go
When I was writing my memoir, I was researching memoir as a topic and started a post for Two Drops of Ink on memoir writing. Instead of just one post, I ended up with seven posts, expanding on one aspect of memoir per post, thus creating a series of posts about the topic. Without the benefit of prewriting, brainstorming, looping, and clustering, I would not have created them. These writing techniques allowed me to write from an in-depth perspective on particular aspects of memoir writing.
But all of those posts started with one idea.
Got an idea? Then brainstorm, freewrite, loop, and cluster. With these techniques, your written idea might get you:
- Thumbs-up or likes
- A re-blog
- Guest post offers
- An agent
- A book signing
See, what a little association can produce?
The next time you’re inspired, brainstorm, loop, and cluster. Repeat. And when you’re finished? Then consider sending it to Two Drops of Ink as a guest post.