Maybe you don’t know where to begin.
Maybe you have so many different ideas swirling around you aren’t sure which one is right.
Maybe you think your topic isn’t big enough to fill a whole article or book or even a life.
Maybe you fear heading in one direction will take you too far from the other paths you want to follow as well.
At times like these mind maps help me find my way.
I have been writing about the importance of choosing a route to follow while pursuing your writing career. A mind map can help you plan your route by gathering all your ideas in one place. Once you have all your ideas spread before you, you can arrange them into an action plan.
For example, last week when I was plotting my writing goals, I drew several mind maps to help me organize my thoughts and harness all my dreams to the page.
Do you use mind mapping to free your creativity?
If you do, you are already aware of the benefits of mind mapping.
- Mind mapping helps you create a space big enough for all the ideas in your head.
- Mind mapping allows you to see connections that might not be obvious in a linear outline.
- Mind mapping points out recurring themes that you might overlook as “already said that” in a rough draft.
Mind mapping is simple.
All you need is a blank sheet of paper and a writing utensil.
- You place a concept you wish to explore in the middle of the page, circle it, and then draw radiating lines off the central concept.
- On the radiating lines (or at their ends) you write ideas (words or phrases) that come to mind.
- You can draw a circle or box around each idea as it comes to you.
- Some of the ideas will suggest branches of their own.
- You may decide to draw connecting arrows from one idea to another.
- Some mind mappers like to bring a lot of color and imagery into their maps.
There is no wrong way to draw a mind map.
I like to brainstorm for at least fifteen minutes on a concept. I include every idea, even if it is just a word, even if it seems totally unrelated. My best mind maps fill the whole page with ideas and branches.
Sometimes one of the branching ideas merits a mind map of its own. Using mind maps I can often generate all the guidance I need to create an outline or brainstorm a new story.
Limitations of mind mapping on paper.
Unfortunately, there are limits to the maps you draw on paper. You don’t have the freedom to make changes like you do in a word processor. Other drawbacks:
- Limited space – Your map is only as big as your paper.
- Fixed positions – You can draw lines to connect concepts, but you can’t move them around the page.
Free Mind Mapping Software Online
Last month I started using a fantastic online mind mapping program (affiliate link.) Mind Meister offers a free basic membership allowing you up to three mind maps.
My favorite features of this mind mapping software are:
- Unlimited page size – Your map will expand to accommodate all your thoughts.
- Drag and drop functionality – Reorganize your thoughts whenever you want.
- Linkability – Create links to online resources within your mind map.
- Icons, Text Colors, Highlighting – Get visually creative and check off action steps when they are completed.
If you do not already have mind mapping software, I urge you to test out this free mind mapping software online. I think you will find, as I have, that the maps you draw will help you find focus and freedom in any area you need to brainstorm. Click here to be directed to Mind Meister and get your free membership.