Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

Landscape, Language, Teaching, Wildness, Beauty, Imagination

Dreams and Deadlines in 2015 – Some Ideas on Organization



Cooking for New Year's Eve 2015

Cooking for New Year’s Eve 2014

This is the process I use at the beginning of each New Year. While the numbers in the center of the cluster change, the process does not. I wrote of this process two years ago and will sit down this evening to cluster 2015.  I learned of clustering from “Writing the Natural Way” by Gabrielle Rico. It is now foundational in both my writing, journaling/dreaming/planning, and, as you experience, feeling centered. I now know to turn to clustering with any writing project, many journal entries, books, any especially situations where I feel overwhelmed and lost. Somehow the path appears.



For many of you this will be the first time you’ve received this piece. For those who received this two years ago, I hope you will have the same experience that I did when I read—a reminder of the deep rhythms and rituals that ground our lives.

As the time of one year draws to a close, and another begins, I hope that some of these ideas will open the paths to your own dreams and deadlines of 2015.  

* * *

Wink Ranch

Wink Ranch

As my family and I drove back from the ranch after Christmas this year, I thought of the New Year and pulled out my journal and scribbled initial ideas along the spectrum of absolute Must-Dos to Want-to-Creates. As the sun almost sets on this year, and we anticipate the sunrise of the new, many of us are in the midst of thinking, scribbling, planning, and dreaming. I toss these ideas I’ve stumbled upon along the way into our communal notebook. As you enter the near year, perhaps you’ll find something here for the sunrise.

Clustering, journals, and lists are the only way I get through life. (Well, those and running. And, coffee.) They are absolutely essential for my writing, planning, and dreaming. I am a paper and pen, textures person, so all of mine are in this form. If you’re an online person, all of these can be adapted, as I learned this semester from one of my students. I’ve explored, wrestled, and played with almost any format that I came across through the years. I’d say the most important thing that I learned is to just trust your instincts about what works for you. After severals years of exploring and wrestling, I’ve discovered this system—if something so intuitive, circular, and often messy—can be called that, works well for me. I hope you’ll find some things that work for you, too.


Journal decorated with pictures from magazines and clear wide tape.

Notebooks and Journals- whether they’re hardback, spiral-bound, lined, or blank pages, what I have found is to be very important is that they be inexpensive! – otherwise I feel the silencing weight that whatever I write must be worthy of such a beautiful journal. It never is and the journals sit unopened on the shelf.

I now stick with inexpensive bound books, lined or unlined. The first thing I do is decorate them with pages from magazines or cards and wide clear tape. Inexpensive and easy – otherwise it’ll never happen in my life. Quotes are often an aspect of the journey. This one reads, “No great thing is created suddenly. There must be time. Give your best and always be kind.” – Epictetus.

For more visions and ideas in journals, author Amy Hale Auker shares images of her years of highly textured journals here. I look at these and am inspired. Enjoy!


Clustering ideas for Language and Story lecture series

Clustering – I first learned about clustering in Writing the Natural Way by Gabriele Rico. Ever since I read this book, all of my planning, dreaming, and writing begins with clustering. Start by writing whatever you want to cluster ideas around in the center of the page and draw a circle around it. Then, and the key here is to just go with whatever intuitively comes to you, write whatever comes around those ideas and circle, then whatever is associated around those ideas, and circle. Trust. Be messy. Be wild. Every essay, class or lesson, book, new project, dream, hope begins with this process.

In my experience, the unlinear aspect of this process that works so beautifully at this stage. This is where I seem to tap into ideas that never would’ve come to me had I begun with lists or narrative form.

Journal with lists

Journal with lists

Lists– Then, come the lists. My journals are full of them. In the morning when I wake up, the first thing I do is push the button to make coffee and sit with my journal by the light of a hurricane lantern. Absolutely and positively no electric lights. I write about whatever comes to mind, and then, inevitably, come the lists. I skim back through previous pages and there are many more lists there. Whatever hasn’t been crossed out, I’ll move forward to the list I’m working on. This is highly interactive. Over the years I’ve realized that if I hadn’t written these things down, they would’ve been lost to the busyness of life. So, half the journal page is writing and the other half is a list.

Dewdrops ideas notebook

Dewdrops ideas

When I began writing Dewdrops, I started to keep a separate little journal in my purse with me always. Ideas for these pieces seem to come to me at the most inopportune times. I am always in the middle of something else. I’ve learned to grab my journal out of my purse and write a few key words that would be incoherent to anyone else, but instantly plop me back into that thought or idea when I read. I also happen to really, really believe in the quote on the front, “Some people dream of success, while others wake up and work hard at it.” Sometimes I need this little extra reminder at 4:00 am.

Raven's Time notebooks

Raven’s Time notebooks

A collection of notebooks devoted to a future book “Raven’s Time: Wildness and Beauty,” help me save ideas that would be gone with the wind were they not written down somewhere.

Within these books are ideas, quotes, conversations, emails printed and glued in, images torn from magazines, titles of books, lyrics of songs, and lots of lists to follow-up on.

Clips and quotes

Clips and quotes

Raven's Time - the book sketched out

Raven’s Time – the book sketched out

14" X 17" artist's sketchbook

14″ X 17″ artist’s sketchbook

Sketching ideas and clustering in a 14″ X 17″ sketchbook often expand ideas, where the smaller notebooks sometimes feel as if they confine my thinking. Using the large sketchbook feels like the ideas grow. Often, using different media opens up ideas. In addition to the clusters in the sketchbook are some pieces with pastels and paper.

Ravens in sketchbook

Ravens in sketchbook

Pastels-mother and children

Pastels-mother and children

When I started the cluster around 2013, I had hazy (and often overwhelming) ideas about all of the deadlines and dreams going into 2013 – the proposal for the online Raven’s Time class, Women Writing the West Catalog responsibilities, application for the Ellen Meloy Desert Writers Fund, new fiction writing class course details, Writing Workshops on the ranch, outlines for Dewdrops, et. al. Through the clustering and resulting lists, the ground feels firmer under my feet. A much better feeling to start the new year – and each new day and project.

Clustering dreams and deadlines of 2013

Clustering dreams and deadlines of 2013

Creation Box

Creation Box

Kenna Rojdnan, puts together a Creation Box at the beginning of each new year. She writes, “This is my creation box. I’ve had it for many years. It holds all of my wishes for me. I simply lift the lid to the swirling, whirling Universe that’s inside and place a picture or a written description of my wish into the vortex of the Creative Force, then I forget about it. (I’ve got a pretty good imagination, so the inside of the box really does whirl and swirl for me.) Each year, I open the lid and pull out each piece of paper or picture to see what I have manifested that year. I am always amazed at how many things I’ve actually been able to create. I take the ones I’ve created out of the box, placing the all the others back in, and I do a gratitude ceremony for the ones I’ve received. Some are small wishes, some big, but each one is honored equally. This is a great idea to begin your new year with. It works beautifully for me!”

About organization – Never mistake me for one of those fastidiously organized people. Surely, nobody who lives with me or knows me will. When I walk into acutely neat houses, I always wonder if there is some eccentric aunt locked in the attic. My journals and books are piled all over the house, where ever I was last sitting or reading. And, I do love organization. My friend, Loran, introduced me to this wonderful organizational website recently: abowlfulloflemons.net. I will never, ever pull this off and bow to those who do. I do love the ideas for organizing the home office and planners. I’m going to incorporate some of these ideas into my own desk and planner. The colors and textures alone are worth it!

If you’re thinking about what you’d like to create in 2014, some possible ideas:

• Play with notebooks and journals in whatever form.

• Cluster around 2015 or around specific dreams/projects.

• Create the lists that compose what it will take to bring these aspects to life.

• Play with lists in notebooks the morning. Sit with a notebook and scribble ideas as they come. Often, they take a little while to emerge. sit and enjoy the candlelight and coffee/tea. Listen.

• Compose a Creation Box

I sit with a cup of Christmas Tea, my notebooks and journals spread out everywhere. There is something deeply, deeply comforting about this. Grounding.

Here’s wishing you a 2015 full of dreams, love, and wonder! Let’s create beauty and kindness in the world.



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Author: Dawn Wink

Dawn Wink is a writer and educator whose work explores language, landscape, wildness, beauty, and imagination.

32 thoughts on “Dreams and Deadlines in 2015 – Some Ideas on Organization

  1. Pingback: Blogging Habits (2) | Wednesday Seminars

  2. Pingback: Dreams and Deadlines in 2015 – Some Ideas on Organization | Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

  3. You have inspired me to start a new year with a journal. I, too, have a stack of journals I have started and stopped after a few entries. Now, I will go look for a journal that I have collected and not submitted any information and start fresh. I have stories I have started and not finished so that will definitely be something to work on, as well. Since the last year has had wellness challenges, perhaps that will help me in my healing, as well. Thanks to you and the others. Happy New Year.

    • Janine, I, too, find that starting fresh can somehow open my writing in ways that a few entries written long ago in a journal somehow seems to stifle. Writing has certainly been essential for me in my own wellness challenges. Clustering will many times help the words pour out in ways that feels overwhelming when I try to write through linear narrative. I hope you find these work in your own writing processes. Thanks so much for taking the time to connect and I hope you’ll keep in touch with what you discover. Happy New Year to you.

  4. Happy 2015 Dawn! I loved the reminder on clustering this brought, I did so enjoy the writing class as far as I got and will put it in my Creation Box for 2015. I have a lot of those old English Class bondages.

    • Mary Kay, “…old English class bondages.” Yes, those keep so very many people from writing. The clustering is what really helps me blast through that and keep those English class bondages in their proper place! 🙂 Here to both of our Creation Boxes for 2015! Love to you.

  5. This line sure gave me a chuckle “When I walk into acutely neat houses, I always wonder if there is some eccentric aunt locked in the attic. ” Really, neatniks must have some kind of compulsive disorder! I’ve learned from training lessons throughout my government career that for a data base to be functional, there needs to be a good data retrieval process and it appears the Creation Box fits that bill. I like what you said about liking texture, paper will not ever be fully replaced by a glass screen for me. I have a Kindle with several books on it; in the course of a year I don’t think I’ve finished a single one of them. I’d rather pay $10.00 for paper book that takes up more space than a $3 e-book any day, and I will write in it too! I might just buy a 4×6 spiral notebook that fits in my back pocket and see where that takes me!!!!! My head is swimming, I might be able to keep up with names, lists and phone numbers that way!!!! Happy 2015 Dawn, thank you for this blog you offer!

    • Dan, how wonderful that you’re going to explore with the Creation Box! I look forward to hearing of this and your experiences. My own Creation Box is on a shelf in my writing room. I love that it’s visible always, as it feels somehow as if this increases the energy around it when I’m reminded of its contents daily. The pen and paper. Oh, have I discovered that this is me. When I’m lugging books and journals around when I’m traveling and on planes, I often wish that I could feel the same experience with a computer screen! I’ve come to accept that I love that feel of paper of a book and pen and paper scratching across a page too much. I do compose much online, but I start with clustering on paper first. Try that 4X6 spiral notebook and I’ve love to hear what happens. I cannot imagine the ideas I would’ve lost, had I not had a piece of paper to scribble them. Perhaps, that’s just me and my own brain though! 🙂 So very grateful to share in this journey with you and here’s to a Happy Happy 2015!

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  9. I love the idea of journals and love to buy them, in fact I have a Smithsonian worthy collection. I buy them with high hopes of filling the pages but I never get beyond the first few pages. I am intrigued by the writing processes of other writers. Our respective approaches are as different as the writer and her/his words. I found it difficult, honestly, to keep the many different types of writer’s journals that are critical to capturing the never ending ideas, which fire off like firecrackers at the strangest times, until… I crossed over from a PC to a Mac and downloaded an e-journal. It lacks the sensory aspect of the beautiful journals above, but it works for me. If a voice chirps in my head with an idea I capture it quickly. Like all writers I am never without a notebook in my bag just in case, Recently I’ve downloaded an app on my phone that allows me to categorize pictures, notes, snippets of conversations, voice memos,… Love it. Never thought I’d use something like this to capture writing ideas. Best is I can mail them to myself and add to my e-journal. I would prefer having a physical journal but I had to accept it was more a romantic notion for me and not something I could be loyal to.

    • Brenda, Different writing processes are fascinating, aren’t they? I loved reading about your use of an e-journal. I experienced this last semester with a student whose own creative and writing processes needed to be online, too. She submitted her e-journal at the end of the semester. It was fascinating to me to experience this whole other format. So glad you’ve found the format the works for you. I email ideas to myself, too, so I don’t forget. While you like the romantic notion of a physical journal, I so often wish I could use the e-format. So much neater and greener! The app on your phone is fabulous – you can actually capture ideas, without endangering anybody by trying to write on paper. I’m thankful we both found what works for us. I look forward to reading more about your passionate pursuits!

  10. AU! pues, I left the wrong comment above. Sorry.

    More importantly what I wanted to say is that I have a hunch that you might be a good writing teacher. I don’t know, it’s just one of those funny feelings.

    The Ravens are lovely. The photo of your parent’s ranch is cute. Wink.

    Happy New Year.

  11. Hello Dawn, I’m trying to leave a comment on your new blog about writing organization and it won’t let me. I really enjoy this blog of yours, please let me know when I post a comment. Have a Happy New Year.

    • Dear Liz,
      You left comments beautifully! Thank you so much for taking the time to connect. I’m so thankful that you’re enjoying Dewdrops! Con cariño, Dawn

  12. Hello Dawn,

    I have a hunch that you might be a good writing teacher. I don’t know, it’s just one of those funny feelings.

    The Ravens are lovely. The photo of your parent’s ranch is cute. Wink.

    Happy New Year.

    • Dear Liz,
      Well, I try to be a good writing teacher. The best I can do is share what has worked for me and others. One thing I’ve discovered is that most people have had the energy and life of writing pounded out of them through English classes that only focused on punctuation. We spend a lot of time getting past that to get to what writing is really about – ideas, connection, wildness, transformation, heartbreak, and beauty. I thought of you with those ravens. 🙂 Happy New Year to you!

  13. Dawn, I loved the idea of a Creation Box! Put your ‘order’ there and give it to the Universe to take care of it. I love the sense of trust this holds that I will be taken care of and my dreams are in good hands. I will try that. I also enjoyed what you shared about how you spend the early morning hours. Often that is a time of hurry, hurry, hurry for me but I know that even 10 minutes of quiet and enjoyment of connecting my myself will make a for a better day. definitely something to add to my routine too.

    What I started to do is write down on a piece of paper what pleasant and enjoyable has happened to me during my day. Then I put the piece of paper in a jar. I plan to do that for a year and then will go through my daily treasures at the year’s end. It would make for a great recap. Kind of ties with the Creation Box 🙂

    A Happy New year to everybody here!

    • Makayla,

      I just loved that idea, too, and was so thankful when Kenna allowed me to share with us all. I am going to weave this into my life. Yes, that morning time for me makes such a difference. I just love that time – alone in the candlelight with my journal, thoughts, and dreams. It’s amazing what comes to me during that time.

      So you’ve already woven into your life writing down blessings and putting the piece of paper into a jar? Yes, it does tie with the Creation Box. I look forward to us connecting at the end of this year and sharing those blessings and what has happened.

      A Happy New Year to you! Dawn

  14. Great advice for working and aspiring writers!

  15. I love the idea of the circles. Always wanting things to look coffee table book perfect and that isn’t me-I just love knowing its ok to have circles and lines after all that is how MY mind works. I do have nice journals that I will never touch, but have begun purchasing cute spiral books and write in them continuously. Thank you for sharing this wonderful and very freeing way to create

    • Dear Dianne,
      Oh, I am so thankful you found this freeing and works for you, as well. I loved reading about your spiral books, writing in them continuously, and the circles are the way your mind works. I’d always tried to write in a linear manner, to very stilted results. Discovering the circles, intuition, and sheer messiness transformed my writing and my life. I so enjoyed reading about your experience. Thank you for taking the time to write. Smiles, Dawn

  16. Oh my dear, I love your ideas. We are so alike – well, maybe except for the circular part. All those “scribbles’ would take me forever to figure out! I love my big spiral journals with quotes on the front for sketching out essays, and my little bound books for carrying with me everywhere-I’ve found them especially useful when traveling! I love lists, and had I your artistic flair mine would be full of the images in my mind-I’m much more comfortable behind a camera for those. And I agree…nothing feels better than having all my books and writing supplies surrounding me! Here’s to 2013, and all the beautiful ideas sure to take shape!

    • Mamawolfe, I can just see you surrounded by all of your journals, books, and writing supplies. Joy. Yes, I think I’m probably the only one who can decipher the scribbles and circles and arrows. I love the thought of you surrounded by all of your own books and lists and beautiful writing. Yes, here’s to 2013 and the beautiful ideas!

  17. Great! xoxo

  18. Here’s one I love when it comes to making lists…instead of crossing out things you’ve completed on your list ( whether it be a “To Do Today” list or a “Life List “), keep a highlighter with you and highlight the things you have completed. THAT way you can celebrate all your accomplishments and successes regarding the list!!
    Barb Piper

    • Barb, Leave it to you to come up with a way to celebrate, instead of cross off! What a wonderful idea! A new component of my own processes. Thanks so much for this!
      Love, Dawn

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