Writing is a Fractal Process

Lena River Delta, Courtesy of NASA

Lena River Delta, Courtesy of NASA

A Fractal Process: Writing is a fractal process.  When we view the writing process through the lens of the reflective mode, the foundation of all modes of  writing, we see the branching of ideas that occurs.

Impulse and Flow: We begin writing with an impulse. The impulse may be a prompt, the wisp of a remembered dream, an assignment, even an overheard conversation, whatever, and  that impulse links back to another impulse in our awareness, which links to another, maybe even two others. And branches of thought are born. A text emerges that flows over a page (or screen) like a river sprouting channels, tributaries, creeks, and streams.

Fractal Patterns in Nature: The fractal pattern of branching is a part of nature, visible not only in the way that rivers flow over the land, but also in the way that our blood flows through our bodies, or the way a fern frond replicates its outer edges. It is a pattern of progress, of moving forward through a set of linkages and connections. A fractal pattern in nature is beautiful—filigreed and complex—much like a piece of elegant and logical writing. Each branch supports another and connects to another, spreading out in manifold development.

An Infinite Flow: This fractal nature of writing visually demonstrates for us why writing blocks never have to occur. The flow of ideas from the mind is infinite. Always, another idea is appearing and branching out to yet more ideas. We just have to settle down enough to attune ourselves to the flow of ideas and not mind the gaps. The gaps help create the beautiful formulation and connection of ideas.

Pruning the Branches: It is true that, eventually, we may have to prune those branches and shape that flow for a particular audience, but the flow of nature is always there within us. We simply have to sit to write, turn our awareness inward,  and be ready to catch the flow as it emerges and branches out.

Explore Your Senses and Write

StrawberryDSCF1675 (295x221)68750

StrawberryDSCF1675 (295×221)68750

Explore Your Senses: Want to write and don’t know what to write about? Explore your senses and write about the experience as fully as you can. Put a strawberry in your mouth. Let your mouth feel it before you bite into it. Take a bite. Relish the flavor. Is there more than one taste? Does it taste sweet? Wild? Slightly sour? Refreshing? Healthy? How many ways can you describe the flavor?
Taste Connections: Now swallow that bite of strawberry. Does it taste different as you swallow it? How does your mouth feel after you’ve swallowed? Is there still a sweet and juicy taste? Do you want another bite? Why? What does the taste remind you of in your past?

Sensory Reflections: With that last question, we move from description to reflection. Now we’re thinking about what the taste of strawberries means to us. What memores do we associate with strawberries? Great desserts? Eating that first strawberry of the year? Do we remember finding wild strawberries in the yard? How small and sweet they were? What feelings do these memories evoke? Choosing a single sense to explore can explode into a nostalgic bonanza.

Sensory Description: We begin with simple description. We could even start with a simple visual description. The luscious red of the berry. The sprinkling of tiny seeds on the berry. The rich contrast of the green leaves. All of these elements of descriptions go back to our five sennes, and when we bring them together in a piece of writing, a new wholeness begins to emerge–a wholeness that we may not even have imagined when we began. So, choose a sense. Explore it. See where it leads. And enjoy.
Image: Courtesy of Mandi Bradshaw