By Leslie A. Joy
What are mind maps?
Mind maps essentially take note taking combine it with brainstorming and put it into diagram form. You can use mind maps to organize tasks, ideas, or concepts, solve problems, or as a writing framework.
Mind maps consist of one central point in the middle and then branch out to sub-topics and sub-sub topics. A blank mind map looks something like this:
Advantages of Mind Mapping
Mind maps allows for easier brainstorming, easier idea organization, and increased creativity because they aren’t based on linear thinking. By using this type of structure as opposed to a more linear approach, it allows your brain to connect concepts you normally wouldn’t connect and encourages a much more free-flowing view of ideas and concepts.
Mind maps also activate the right side of your brain-which is known for creativity and intuition. As a result, mind maps can help you solve problems you’ve been stuck on. Plus, mind maps are much more visually appealing than a list of notes.
There are numerous ways that writers can use mind mapping. I’ll be covering some of the more basic uses.
Use # 1: Outlining a Blog Post, Magazine Article, or Other Type of Copy
If you’re not sure how to structure a piece of writing–or you’re stuck on a particular part–mind mapping is a great way to work around with. Mind mapping helps you visually structure the post, can allow you to see connections you might not have seen before, and can even help you generate future post ideas. For example, if you notice that one section of the map is getting larger than the other side, that subtopic might make an excellent follow-up post to the one you’re currently writing.
Use # 2: Blog Post Ideas
Mind mapping stimulates increased creativity. It also allows you to visually see connections that you wouldn’t normally see in a linear list. Combine the two and you have a perfect storm for generating blog post ideas.
Try putting a topic in the center, setting a time, and generating ideas from there.
Use # 3: Side Project Ideas
As a writer, you’ve probably considered different ideas on how to increase your income through side projects such as ebooks, coaching, and so on. Whether you’re looking for new ideas or you have an idea but aren’t exactly sure what to do with it (you want to write an ebook, but aren’t sure on what), mind maps are a good way to go.
With a mind map, you can easily brainstorm and then connect ideas to each other. For example, if you frequently blog about training dogs, you could put some of your more popular blog ideas in mind map form and see what you generate from there. Maybe instead of just one ebook idea, you find you have enough for a series, or even a full-length book.
Use #4: Managing Clients, Tasks, and Projects
Mind mapping can be a great way to visually lay out all the work you have to do–whether it’s a variety of blog posts, a variety of client projects, or one larger project like a blog launch or ebook.
With mind mapping, you can easily brainstorm EXACTLY what tasks need to be done and then easily visualize which tasks need to be done in what order.
If you’re feeling really ambitious, you can color-code certain types of tasks and then easily batch them. For example, if you have to write a large number of blog posts, you could make list posts in red, how-to posts in blue, and review posts in green. Or you could make researching in red, writing in blue, and editing in green.
This allows you to easily see what needs to be done for more streamlined efficiency.
Use #5: Marketing Plans
Marketing can be the bane of every writer’s existence. You need to do it to get work, but either you aren’t sure of what marketing techniques to use OR you have so many ideas for marketing techniques that you don’t know which to pick.
Mind mapping to the rescue.
With mind mapping, you can lay out every marketing you idea you have and easily see how they fit together for the big picture. It also gives you a nice visual of how spread out you’d be and how much work it would entail. With all your ideas broken down in a mind map, you can easily pick the best ideas, and then actually implement them.
Read More Resources on Mind Mapping
Are you interested in learning more? Here are some great resources to get you started:
- From Chris Brogan, How I Use Mind Mapping to Write explains how to use mind maps to create outlines.
- From ProBlogger, Starting a New Blog? Start with a Mind Map describes how to use mind maps to generate blog post ideas.
- From GigaOm, Mind Maps: Get Blog Ideas Fast has even more ideas on how to use mind maps to get blogging ideas.
As a writer, do you use mind maps? How do you use them?
Leslie A. Joy is a marketing assistant, process manager, analytics geek, and blogger.