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From "Just this Side of Byzantium" by Ray Bradbury:

It was with great relief, then, that in my early twenties I floundered into a word-association process in which I simply got out of bed each morning, walked to my desk, and put down any word or series of words that happened along in my head.

I don't understand why Bradbury uses "flounder" which seems to have a negative connotation, but I think, based on the context, "a word-association process" is a gift for the writer, by which Bradbury writes his stories.

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    In addition to Mary's correct answer, its usage here is somewhat self-deprecating, and thus humorous and humble Nov 12 '20 at 17:28
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    How is I "floundered into" dissimilar to "stumbled upon" or even "fell into"? Nov 12 '20 at 20:15
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    This seems like a question for the English or ESL stackexchanges, not Literature. Nov 12 '20 at 21:35
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    @BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft This question is less about the meaning of the English word "floundered" and more about its significance and implications in the specific context of this passage in a piece of literature. That's much more within the Lit site's forte to answer than the ELU/ELL sites'.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Nov 12 '20 at 23:36
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While "flounder" is a negative term, it denotes a process, not an end result. If you flounder ashore after a shipwreck, that you have escaped drowning does not make your motion retroactively graceful.

Bradbury is emphasizing that he was trying different things, basically at random, without much thought, and one of them proved fruitful.

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This is an interesting observation. Checking definitions of the word "flounder" reveals that they are, as the OP claims, mostly very negative.

The key to the usage in this sentence is, I think, this definition from the Oxford dictionary:

Struggle or stagger clumsily in mud or water.
‘he was floundering about in the shallow offshore waters’

If we replace the word "flounder" with "stagger" in Bradbury's sentence, his meaning is perhaps clearer:

It was with great relief, then, that in my early twenties I staggered into a word-association process in which I simply got out of bed each morning, walked to my desk, and put down any word or series of words that happened along in my head.

What he seems to be trying to communicate is that this protagonist came into this word-association process by happy accident. It wasn't a deliberate choice. He "blundered" or "staggered" into it by happenstance.

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He used flounder because of the negative connotation. He is disclaiming all credit, saying that it happened despite his incompetence, not because of his competency.

It is a way of emphasizing that it wasn’t just a happy accident, that it it was undeserved good luck.

He didn’t sit down and plan out a good work habit, he didn’t look back on his past work and determine that he did his best work under condition X. He tried various things and one of the things he tried just happen to click with him. He doesn’t say so, but he can’t even recommend it to anyone else, as he doesn’t know why or how it works for him, he can only report that it does.

Think of saving someone’s life by vomiting at an intersection so that they slip and fall and then don’t get ran over by a runaway truck. Yes, your actions saved their life, and they might even be grateful, but you didn’t do anything worthy of praise.

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