Having done a fair number of posts on mind mapping (see the list at the bottom of this post), I’ve now begun consolidating these into book form. It is a fun and rewarding project that I’m hoping to fully complete in early 2013.
It also seamlessly takes us to the question explored in today’s post: how can mind mapping aid the writing process?
First of all, i’d like to remark that i mean to use the word “writing” in the broadest possible way, including but certainly not limited to:
- Factual writing (journalistic articles, news reports, business communication, …)
- Scientific writing (books, theses, research papers, …)
- Creative writing (novels, short stories, poetry, travel stories, …)
- And many other areas (writing a letter to a friend, writing your diary, …)
Why mind mapping helps
Mind mapping can help in all of the above cases and i believe this is because of two chief reasons:
- “Expansive thinking” adds breadth and depth to the text
- Producing a mind map is an “expansive” activity. Starting with a main topic in mind (e.g. “Product launch”, “Sales event”, “Research proposal”, “Family holidays”, “Friendship”, “Meeting minutes”, “Novel”, “Magnum Opus”, “Charity”, …) adding to it is fun and easy to do.
- Each branch in the map is likely to trigger new ones. The mind is naturally radiant. It’s like pouring warm oil on a flat, glass surface: the ideas spread out easily and it’s an irreversible process. There’s room for rational thought as well as intuition, hunches, etc.
- Producing a mind map prior to actually starting writing full sentences, in my experience, adds breadth and depth to the text.
- Separating the big picture from the small picture saves time
- Most writers would have experienced the idea of being “unable to see the forest for the trees”. The mind map, just like any other map, provides guidance and helps maintain a sense of direction throughout the writing process.
- Writing detailed sentences that are eloquent and meaningful (“the small picture”) while, at the same time, fitting them into some compelling but invisible bigger picture is very difficult and time-consuming. By using mind mapping, we paint this larger scheme first – separately, explicitly, and playfully. This division of work saves time simply because the writer “gets lost” much less frequently within the vast archives of his or her mind and spends less energy backtracking futile ideas.
Enough theory. Time for an example.
For one of my current book projects I started off with producing a digital mind map, allowing me to include changes easily and cleanly.
Before long the chapter and paragraph headings emerged. I am now writing my book on the basis of this structure, spending a couple of weeks drafting each chapter.
With the mind map as the “backdrop” of this writing project, I feel I can really focus on merely “filling in the blanks”.
Contrary to simply writing “off the cough” (or “à l’improviste”, if you speak French), the blanks that I’m facing are small enough for me to not feel lost, and big enough to provide space for exploration and creativity.
Most chapters get written pretty quickly. And, not least importantly, I get a real sense of progress by having the mind map as a reference point. I can confidently say that presently I’m at the mid-point writing the book
Related posts (most recent first):
- Mind maps may not be your “swiss army knife” (31 July 2012)
- How to use mind mapping with children? (6 July 2012)
- How can mind mapping be used for action management? (10 May 2012)
- What is the history of mind mapping? (6 May 2012)
- How does mind-mapping relate to the wider field of data visualisation? (4 May 2012)
- What are some good resources on mind mapping? (2 May 2012)
- How to integrate brainstorming into mind mapping? (18 April 2012)
- What tools are you using for mind mapping? (17 April 2012)
- Why make digital mindmaps? (15 April 2012)
- Why do mindmapping on paper? (14 April 2012)
- What are the uses of mindmaps? (13 April 2012)
- How to make a mindmap? (Part 3 of 3; 11 April 2012)
- How to make a mindmap? (Part 2 of 3; 11 April 2012)
- How to make a mindmap? (Part 1 of 3; 11 April 2012)
- What are the benefits of mindmapping? (5 April 2012)
- What is mind mapping? (4 April 2012)
- Possible mind-mapping topics (29 March 2012)
- Pick of the week: mind mapping (26 March 2012)