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February 18, 2015

Chunk, Chunker, Chunking? by Robert James Dellamano

I'm a Chunker. There, I said it. I AM A CHUNKER! "What's a Chunker?" you ask. Does it mean I eat big chunks of food without chewing it, like a caveman? No, and I apologize for that. It means that's my style of writing. Or, more accurately, my style of beginning to write. And now you might be asking, "Alright already, what-is-'Chunking'?!" Chunking is a style of writing taught in an Introduction to Writing course my first year of community college. I don't remember the teacher's name, but she was one of those teachers that stands out (otherwise) for her dedication and enthusiasm for her profession. 

The method involves beginning a writing by mentally vomiting as much information as possible about your subject onto paper. The vomiting analogy is perfect, although unpleasant, because, well, we are calling this 'Chunking', and because the material you're putting down flows out of your mind in bits and pieces (OK - enough of that, right?).

I use the method to get going on my writing. Once I have even the slightest idea of a character, plot line, setting, description, etc., I start to chunk. I throw down on paper everything that comes to mind - rarely sentences, seldom long phrases, occasionally short phrases - but always bullet pointed type bits and pieces, including just one word at a time. Hence, 'Chunking'. 

Then, after much is set to paper, I take a break from it (unless a bit that I think is really important comes to mind). After a day or so, I re-visit what I've chunked. Then, and only then do I start to organize my chunks. And I'm sure I don't have to explain what that means, but I will anyway, because I like to write. Why else would I be here, right?

So now I start grouping things together - character aspects, descriptions, settings, into bigger chunks that relate to each other. Again, the process of chunking. And so the process continues as I flesh out the various aspects of my story, adding things here, deleting things there... until it all becomes one (hopefully) cohesive writing (that isn't just a bunch of random chunks!).

Fortunately for me, I haven't experienced much in the way of writer's block, but on those rare occasions that I do get a little stuck, this method helps tremendously. And this process can happen anywhere - at my desk, in the grocery store, driving (eyes on the road!). You get the picture. 

I think it's also a good way for a new writer, or one who lacks a little confidence, to get started. It's similar to when I think about exercising. I may not want to so I tell myself to at least stretch a little. That way I know I'm doing SOMETHING beneficial for my health. Invariably, once I start stretching, I follow it up with a full work out. I'm sure you get this picture, too.

This method works great for me, so if you're having a bit of difficulty getting started, or keeping going, give this a try. But you can forget about the vomiting part if you want...

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About the Author

The author is a graduate of Florida Coastal School of Law who currently resides in southern Illinois. He is an avid nature lover, and a fan of both blues music and the St. Louis Blues NHL hockey team.  His childhood dream was to be a cowboy, and his adult dream is to ride off into the sunset with his best girl. The author urges everyone to spend time/money at their local animal shelter, and to visit the following websites on a daily basis: and

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  1. Donna,

    Just wanted to give you a big thanks for the post.
    Love your blog.

    Robert James Dellamano

  2. Great post, Parsen and Donna. I actually wrote my papers and even my thesis this way. My outlines for stories begin as chunks, as well :-)