October 11, 2014

Thought Clouds: An Organized Approach to Writing For the Disorganized Mind.

Author's Own (Jane CoCo Cowles)

Disorganized thoughts? Writer’s block?

The thought cloud approach to writing is a sure fire way to organize the most chaotic of all minds.

Those who have busy minds know that ideas float out of our minds as quickly as we think of them. So, turning an idea into an organized piece of writing is challenging, but not impossible.

Outlining, a popular method of thought organization taught in writing classes, is great for those with a linear thought process. But this step-by-step approach does not work for those with scattered minds.

Scattered minds digress.

They start to write about one idea and go off onto a tangent. Then, they remember they forgot to elaborate on the original idea in the first paragraph. If this sounds familiar, stop writing now.

Generally, ideas are perceived as good but ideas that we cannot explain remain unvalidated.

The exercise I am about to teach will demonstrate that the outlining method taught in writing classes is not the only effective method for thought organization.

Scattered minds are free thinkers, they want the liberty to say whatever comes to mind.

This is a great strategy for problem solving, because they leave no stone unturned. But readers will miss the point, for the writing of a disorganized mind rambles on without direction.

To be an effective writer, a chaotic mind must reel in her thoughts.

Our thoughts float about the page like clouds dot the sky.

Pick up a pencil and a piece of blank white paper (preferably without lines).

Write the idea—the main topic—in the center of the paper. Circle it.

Next, start writing everything that relates to that idea all over the page.

Circle each thought after you write it down.

Keep writing little thought clouds until all ideas, tangents and suggestions are exhausted.

Now, look at all the thought clouds on the page. Like a game of connect the dots, find the thought that is a starting place and continue drawing a line to map out a path of your thoughts.

The ending place is the main topic in the center of the page. All the other thought clouds support that central idea.

I started using this technique in law school. I was a great creative writer, but technical writing did not come easily for me.

While my thoughts flowed easily, they were not always organized. My artistic side needed a visual picture of what I was about to write.

Once I started using this method for technical writing, I never got less than an A on a paper.

The method of organization does not matter, it is simply about getting thoughts on the page.

Whether we start by organizing our thoughts or reel them in, there is no reason to waste hours in frustration.

The answer is to find a new approach.


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Apprentice Editor: Brandie Smith/Editor: Travis May

Photo: Author’s Own.

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Jane CoCo Cowles