Mindmapping Diagram credit: Grace Fleming
I do write (and have published) nonfiction articles for magazines and thought today it might be fun to discuss a process called mindmapping which, in the past, I used for problem solving in the world of health care management. It works for writers, too.
Mindmapping allows you to take in idea and organize your thoughts in a visual manner so that when it’s time to write an outline, you have an idea of where to take it. I believe that this technique works especially well for us right-brained, artistic types who conceptualize using the sense of sight.
When I mindmap, I take a central idea and write smack dab in the middle of a piece of paper and draw a circle around it. That becomes the frame of reference for all that is to follow. Then jot down ideas that spring from the initial prompt and draw a circle around each of them, drawing a line to connect them to the main subject. Each circle will give birth to its own subset of circles until you’ve exhausted the idea.
In the example above, Civil War is the center point. The creator then branched off into two categories: secessions and leaders. Following that, she identified two leaders for the one and years of secession for the other with the states that seceded from them sprouting from each year.
This can work in other areas of writing, too. Let’s play with an example for poetry. I want to write a poem about a frog. Frog will be my center circle. From there I identify 3 sub-circles: visual appearance, sound and environment. I take each of those and branch out into descriptors that apply. For example, for visual appearance I identify size, shape, color–and so on.
In an article I recently wrote for caregivers of persons with dementia, I filled a legal-sized sheet of paper with circles. When it came time to write it, I found I had more than I could cover in one article. This gives me the opportunity to mine this mindmap for multiple articles or even use as the basis for a nonfiction book proposal.
I hope this gives you a tool to serve you in your own writing. As always, I appreciate your feedback–negative or positive–and your ideas! Feel free to comment.