You have a notebook and you feel compelled to write in it. Maybe you’ve heard about, read about, or just know that there are tremendous benefits that can come from personal/journal writing. You turn to the first page of your new notebook, and a blank, crisp page lay before you. You uncap or clip your pen or sharpen your pencil. You’re ready to write. But nothing comes. Not a single word. You have everything you need to start a notebook or a journal, but for whatever reason you either don’t know what to write about or how to write about it.
Many times, those desiring to or compelled to keep a notebook or a journal will then begin the search for writing prompts. Writing prompts can be helpful, as they can spark ideas about writing topics. But to truly keep a journal or a notebook that is going to lead to any sort of real personal development, you’re going to need to find ways of writing about the things that you need to write about. So, while writing prompts can be helpful, for many they can be limiting, restricting the writer to topics that someone else has dreamed up. Writing techniques, different methods or ways of entering into writing, can lead to a more authentic writing experience.
The MindMosaic, has become my go-to, my favorite, writing technique. During the early stages of trying to cope with a tragic change in my family, I found myself compelled to write more than ever before. Being a lifelong keeper of notebooks and journals, I knew I could find solace and peace in those pages; and yet, I found it a struggle to stick or to decide what to write about. My mind was a flurry of thoughts that seemed to collide into one another, all competing for my attention and mental energy. I was mentally overwhelmed. And I could never decide what to write about. I couldn’t focus on any one topic.
I finally decided that I actually wouldn't try to focus on just on topic and that is when the MindMosaic was born.
I start my morning MindMosaic ritual by quietly sitting with my thoughts. I just breath calmly and listen. I listen to all of the crosstalk and chatter in my head, and I choose four thoughts, four keywords, to write about. My decision about which four to choose is quick and without intensive thought. I just choose four.
I open a two-page spread, a left and right page, so that my writing surface space is a square, because I use a traveler’s notebook, and the pages are relatively small. Were I to write on larger paper, I might mentally or perhaps, actually, divide a single page into four sections.
I write the headings or keywords, as follows, one in each quadrant, moving clockwise.
Once I've written the headings, I go back to the quadrant in the upper left hand corner, and that is where I begin to write. When I finish that quadrant, I turn the page around and write in the quadrant on the upper right hand corner, and then I turn again, until I have completed of four sections.
A Variation: The Polise Path
In a recent workshop, one participant, found that choosing four unrelated topics didn’t work for her. Instead, she began with one topic. When she completed that square or quadrant, she found herself thinking of her next topic. She proceeded this way until she complete all four quadrants. This is a wonderful variation and one that has been helpful to others as well.
How Do I Manage to Fit It All In
One question I’m often asked is how I manage to fit the words into each square, so neatly. What if I’m not done when I finish a square? The answer to this is that I manage my words, so that they do fit into a square. Sometimes, I stop a little short or add ellipses, or find substitute words to make an idea fit, or I just stop. My goal is a brief exploration of each of the four things I have captured from the many things in my head. If I need to process something at great length, I make time to do that. I may stop in the middle of my MindMosaic, if it’s something that needs my immediate attention. Often, it is not. Sometimes, it does bring issues to my attention that I need to write about at greater length, in a different way, at another time or when I have more time.
The MindMosaic is not the only way to cure writer's block, but it is one of my favorite and more frequently used writing techniques.