- Books, Literature, and Writing
How to Use a Mind Map to Write Creatively
Do you struggle to brainstorm new ideas or concepts? Have you ever been defeated by writer’s block? If you write, you probably answered in the affirmative for one or both of these questions. Every writer has to fight against writer’s block. We also labour to find new concepts and ideas, especially when we feel stressed, such as by a deadline. Mind Maps offer a fun and creative way to defeat these oppressors, and begin writing again.
What is a Mind Map?
Mind Maps are a form of non-linear note-taking. A completed mind-map looks like a spider’s web of connected ideas and concepts. Mind Maps can also be used for brainstorming. The act of connecting one idea to another concept helps the writer think of further new concepts and related characters. Mind Maps work the same way our brains function. Have you ever played the game where one person says a word, and then the other person says whatever word they associate with the previous word? The game works because our brains associate different concepts with different ideas. Mind maps illustrate these associations and encourage the brain to continue the game.
When creating a Mind Map, you can use a variety of media. Everything from a pencil and a piece of paper to a chalkboard to free mind-mapping software off of the Internet will work. Whatever the media you choose, remember that mind maps work best when you use a lot of colour and creativity. Don’t be afraid to experiment with mixing media together to create your Mind Map. An Excel graph can be pasted onto a chalkboard if it helps to illustrate your idea. Many software programs will allow you to attach files and images directly to your Mind Map.
Fiction Based Mind Map
How do I Create a Mind Map?
Step 1: Write your topic in the center of your media, and surround it in a colourful circle
Step 2: Write down any ideas that relate to your topic in separate colourful circles and connect them to the topic circle
Step 3: Focus on one of your sub topic and write down any idea that relates in a separate circle and connect it
Step 4: Repeat Step 3 for each of your sub topics
Step 5: Repeat Step 3 for each of your secondary sub topics
Step 6: Continue until you can’t think of any more relations
Step 7: Add any images, graphs, or research to the mind map
Step 8: Add any more connections created by the additional media
Step 9: Examine the mind map and pick out the ideas that you wish to develop in your story or article
Step 10: Create your story or article based on your brainstorming mind map
Non-Fiction Mind Map
What are the Benefits to Using a Mind Map?
I have a lot of fun creating mind maps as they allow me to be creative with my note-taking. I often turn to mind maps when I am completely blocked and lost as to how to proceed. I find that allowing myself to have some fun with mind-maps allows me to relax enough that the ideas start to flow again. The greatest weapon against writer’s block is a writer’s own creativity. Mind-maps let the writer play with words again, which gives the writer freedom to be creative.
Another benefit to mind maps is that they actually help you to remember your notes. An idea is usually easier to remember if we can associate a picture or a colour with it. For visual learners, this is especially true. Research has shown, however, that we all learn using visual, audio, and hands-on methods. People are simply stronger in different types of learning. Having the information easily available is helpful for both fiction and non-fiction writers. Fictional writers need to remember the details about all of the characters in their stories. Non-fiction writers need to remember all of the details and facts for their articles or handbooks. Having a note-taking system that helps you to remember your notes is a benefit to any writer.
Mind Maps also encourage free form writing which can lead to unexpected developments in character, plot, or ideas. Free form writing is when a writer writes whatever ideas enter his or her mind in association with a particular topic. Mind Maps work with free form writing to deepen brainstorming session. Mind maps allow the writer to perceive his or her thoughts and connections as a three-dimension physical image. Traditional note-taking, in contrast, limits the writer’s perception to the two-dimensional.
Mind Maps use our brain’s own systems to help break writer’s block and identify new ideas and further developments. Writers, of any type, can benefit from using this different style of note-taking and brainstorming. The best part is that Mind Maps are fun to create and that creativity flows back into the writer. Use the above system and try mind maps for yourself. You may find that your article or story can be deepened further than you previously thought possible.