Before you begin this task, review the prompt for your first major writing assignment.

Assignment 1 Tracking the Conversation-1.docx

This task will give you the opportunity to explore mapping (or “clustering”), a method of visual thinking that helps some writers in the early stages of composing a text (like an essay).


[Note: This exercise comes from Bruce Ballenger’s The Curious Writer, Brief 5th Ed., 2017, 81].

STEP 1: Begin with a blank page. Choose a core word, phrase, name, idea, detail, or question. Write it in the middle of the page and circle it. (You might begin with a BIG idea, like “Hurricane Katrina”, or “broken levees” for this assignment).

STEP 2: Relax and focus on the core word or phrase, and when you feel moved to do so, build a strand of associations from the core, circling and connecting each item. Write other details, names, dates, place names, phrases and so on– whatever comes to mind.

STEP 3: When a strand dies out, return to the core and begin another. Keep clustering until the page looks like a web of associations. Doodle if that helps you relax and focus.

Here is an example of what a map-in-progress might look like:

STEP 4: When you feel the urge to write, stop clustering and use one of the strands as a prompt for free writing.


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