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After my recent creative crisis, I went back to the big picture end of my story. Because obviously some of the directions I'm going in in my fictional prose aren't of much interest to me, and before I force myself too far into them, I thought it best to step back and figure out where I would like to go. Ordinarily, I figure out what I want to write by writing it, but right now for some reason my brain is locked into some themes and story elements that aren't satisfying to me, and I need to redirect it a bit.

My idea for doing this was to try some exercises designed to by-pass that locked/blocked part of my brain.

I cracked open my ancient copy of Writing the Natural Way and read up on the author's clustering technique, which I haven't done since my old writing classes years ago. I did a couple practice clusters which worked out well, but then they would since they were geared towards that autobiographical journal-type writing any self-involved person can do. I have to admit one even took me to such an uncomfortable place, I couldn't write the prose blurb afterwards that is supposed to be the second step in the process.

Then I tried a cluster drawing from a short list of prompt words I'd pulled out of my fiction story writing prompts. I picked ones I thought would be very evocative. That cluster went nowhere. Well, actually, it went a lot of places, but nowhere that prompted any kind of writing blurb the way the clustering exercise is supposed to. I looked at all the branches in my cluster and was drawn in by nothing.

I decided what I needed were better prompt words to cluster from. Specifically, themes and characters and events in my story that were giving me the most trouble, that I couldn't seem to get anywhere with, that needed some brainstorming around. So that's what I spent the rest of the week doing, going through my blurbs, my outlines, my "what I want to write about" list, etc, pulling out themes and story elements, and figuring out which ones were the most problematic--which ones I seemed to be stuck on even though they didn't excite me.

I'm finishing that part up, and when I get a short list, I will start the clustering.