By in Writing

Writing Up a Mess - 4

The Story So Far

We started writing at random, with Tip number 1 to keep a notebook and tip number 2 to keep a journal . We then built a framework with tip number 3 to write an outline .

Now Draw it Out

Tip number 4 is to draw out your thoughts, literally, in a mind map (as opposed to drawing teeth). Don't worry, you do NOT need to be any kind of artist to create one of these. It doesn't even matter a hoot if you are cartologically challenged. ANYONE can draw a mind map. I even taught my elementary school-aged children to draw them and will teach my grandchildren soon.

What is a Mind Map?

A mind map is another structure tool BUT, it allows you to develop the structure as you go along, instead of working it out first. It also uses colour (color) and images to help you work your way through what you are thinking and what you want to create. Mind maps were created by Tony Buzan and you can find a lot about him and mind maps by searching on line. Mind maps can be used for many purposes - when I was in employment, I used them nearly every day for planning things or working out what I needed to write.

Using a Mind Map for Writing

I taught this technique to my children when they were about 9 years old and school required them to write essays. The school also required them to plan them out. Now you know kids - you were one at one time, even if you don't have any - writing ANYTHING extra, over and above a handwritten essay in the notebook is not looked on with pleasure. They needed a tool to pla out what they had to say, without doing a lot of writing and it had to be easy. A mind Map does all of those.

How to create a Mind Map

1. Start with a piece of unlined paper My creation (c) MegL

2. In the middle of the page, write the FOCUS of what you want to write about and draw an oval around it. Your focus might be Social Media, or it might be World War 1 medals, or Trucking through the Mountains, or Fashion faux pas. In other words, the focus is what you are interested in writing about. I choose to start with "Social Media".

3. Draw a line (BRANCH) out from the oval and write something on it, related to the Focus. My focus is "Social Media" and one piece of social media I might want to write about could be "Twitter". I might also want to write about Reddit, Pinterest and a number of others. Draw up to 8 branches from the centre and put something on them - see diagram mindmap2. Anywhere between 3 and 8 branches is fine. My creation (c) MegL

4. Now take one of these branches and add TWIGS, with something relevant on it. Add as many twigs as you like My creation (c) MegL

5. Use colour (color), especially if you want to remember what's on it (Mind Maps are excellent for studying and remembering too)

6. Use pictures, diagrams, doodles, anything that will remind you of something. Check out mind maps on the internet for ideas.

7. You can add links from one side of a ind map to another if two ideas are linked up. Sometimes, you decide to draw the mind map out all over again, because you have suddenly realised the structure needs to be different. But it doesn't take long. If you want more detailed information on how to create a mind map, together with a video from Tony Buzan, who created mind maps, click here . This link also covers "cause and effect" webs which you may also find handy.

Benefits of Mind Maps

1. You can see all parts of your essay / paper / presentation / training course set out in one place in front of you, so you have an overview of it in one place.

2. A drawing or mapping technique allows you to "daydream" about your project, letting you add in branches and twigs that you might have thought were irrelevant at first or letting you see connections between different parts of the mind map that are just not visible in a linear outline.

Once you have created most of your mind map, you can just start writing, based on the branches and twigs in front of you. You can number them if you want to write them up in a different order.

Image Credit » My own creation (c) MegL using Serif CraftArtsit2

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Kasman wrote on September 21, 2014, 7:08 PM

I shudder to think what my mind map would look like. It would be going off in all sorts of irrelevant directions!

suffolkjason wrote on September 22, 2014, 5:16 AM

Thanks for this. You are creating a very useful knowledge base for aspiring writers.

MegL wrote on September 22, 2014, 5:50 AM

Kasman That's fine! Mind maps don't take long to do, so it won't take much time and you can always ignore any irrelevant bits when you come to write up. One of the big benefits of mind mapping that I haven't included above and maybe I should, is that it allows you to "daydream" your project (rather like doodling when you talk) so you see or create more connections than you would by working on the linear outline.

MegL wrote on September 22, 2014, 5:51 AM

Suffolkjason Thank you. It helps me as well and that's one of the benefits of writing on here (rather like journalling) is that it helps you to clarify your own thoughts on the subject

Kasman wrote on September 22, 2014, 3:35 PM

Now I get your point! I have bookmarked this post on my iCrumz page under the heading 'Useful Articles'. I will refer to it again.

MegL wrote on September 22, 2014, 5:28 PM

Kasman , thank you

BarbRad wrote on September 30, 2014, 12:09 PM

Sounds like a useful tool, but a bit complex for someone like me. I don't even have colored markers or pencils anymore. i'm not a visual thinker, either. I do better with regular outlines when I want to plan something I can't do off the top of my head. Now that we have easy editing on computers and can delete and rearrange as we see the need, the outline isn't as important as it used to be for me. It might be different for a more formal article on a subject I have to research, though.