A mind map is a visual diagram used to record and organize information in such a way that the brain finds it captivating and easy to process.

A mind map is a visual diagram used to record and organize information in such a way that the brain finds it captivating and easy to process. A mind map aids a writer in structuring and analyzing information. This makes the writer to better comprehend, synthesize, recall and generate new ideas.

Mind mapping can, therefore, be described as a technique for drawing information in diagrams instead of writing it in sentences. Thoughts, ideas or facts are laid out along a central theme so that one can clearly see the flow across different levels.  Unlike other methods for recording information, mind mapping relies on large amounts of written texts but it incorporates lines, symbols, keywords, colors, and images arranged in a simple brain friendly concept.

There are several types of visual mapping. Their usage varies depending on the structure of information you are learning, your purpose, goals, and objectives for learning. They include;

  • Cyclical maps. As the name suggests, they are used to represent key terms within stages in a cyclical process.
  • Converging maps. They are used to represent causes that lead or join to a single action.
  • Radial maps. These are map type structures that have sub-topics emanating from a single thought or word.
  • Comparison maps. They are maps used to compare two or more things. There is a central interlocking part that represents the objects’ shared characteristics.
  • Linear maps. These are lines drawn in a flowchart structure and they represent the linear stages of a process with a beginning and an end.
  • Hierarchical maps. These are maps that are used to represent parts of a larger topic and they represent smaller parts of a larger topic in an ascending or descending order.
  • Interacting maps. These are maps that interlink with each other in a variety of ways maybe due to the same words or process.

Mind Mapping Methods

There are two major mind mapping methods that a writer can employ to gather and represent information he is learning. There are several factors that will make you choose which method to use. These include; time available, the information you are learning, resources at hand and the information one already has.

1.      Hand Drawn Mind Maps

These are maps drawn with the use of a hand. The benefit of hand drawn maps is that as you draw it, you expand your thinking and in the process generate more ideas on the topic you are studying. It also helps you to have a deeper understanding of the topic you are writing in more exponential ways.

To create a hand drawn mind map, you need to follow the following steps;

         i.            Turn a page on its side. Make sure it’s a blank page and start writing at the center.

       ii.            Write your main idea here. Use an image or picture because a picture is worth a thousand words.

      iii.            Use colors to add vibrancy and life to your image.

     iv.            Add branches and connect it to the central image. You can add second and third level branches depending on how you classify our information. Make the branches free flowing and connected to each other.

       v.            Consider making the branches curved rather than straight lines.

     vi.            Use one keyword per line.

    vii.            Use colors and images throughout.

Benefits of hand drawn maps include;

§  Flexibility. These maps are flexible, allowing you to bend, juggle through and expand the map however you wish as more ideas flow in.

§  It is personal and unique to the writer who created it. No two hand drawn maps can be the same. One can add a personal touch to the map that will help them integrate the information they are mapping far more effectively.

The disadvantages of these maps include;

§  Sometimes you may have a small sheet of paper and the mapping is limited to a small space. As a result, you may be unable to write all the information you had in mind.

§  It is time-consuming, especially when working with a variety of symbols, pictures or colors.  As compared to computer generated maps, hand drawn maps consume more time.

There is a variety of hand drawn maps that you can use as an inspiration when you decide to use hand drawn maps. Examples of these maps can be found on Mind Map Art and the Mind Map Inspiration website.

 

2.      Computer Generated Mind Maps

Over the years, these maps have generated a lot of interest as they much easier to use and are available at the click of a button. A lot of software applications for mind mapping have been developed with newer version apps coming out nearly every month. All of these online applications come with their benefits and drawbacks and it is important for a writer to study these aspects before deciding on the one that best suits your needs.

The major benefits of computer generated mind maps include;

§  It is collapsible. This enables you to easily delete information that you deem useless.

§  It is expandable. There are no space constraints and one can put as many ideas as they like.

§  It is multi-dimensional, hence information can be presented from different points of view.

§  It is easy and quick to put together.

The drawbacks include;

§  They are impersonal and rigid. This means that it does not allow you to put what your mind envisions as you have to stick to the settings of the app.

There are several apps in the market and before settling on one to use, your best option would be to read the reviews as this can as a guide on whether the app would suit your needs. You can then download the apps then try them out during the free trial period and decide for yourself which one best suits your needs.

Some of the major apps include; Mindjet Mind Manager, Concept Draw, Visual Mind, Nova Mind and Inspiration all which available free for a 30-day trial period. iMind Map is available for 7 days’ trial period. There are several free apps available and they include; Free Mind, Open Mind, and Smart Draw.

3.      3D Mind Mapping

Also available is the 3D Mind Mapping software. These packages absorb you into your content helping you to truly understand the information you are organizing from an insider’s point of view. All you need is to download the apps and try them out during the free trial period to truly obtain a comprehensive idea of what these packages are able to do. They include; Topiscape and N elements.

Benefits of Mind Mapping to a Writer

Mind Mapping provides the following benefits to a writer;

·         It can furnish the writer with global perspectives of ideas and information.

·         It improves problem-solving ability as it enables you to better manage and organize your problems within a map.

·         It improves creative and critical thinking as one is able to piece together a story from bits of unrelated pieces of information.

·         Helps the writer improve concentration. Because of the interconnecting pieces, images, colors, and words, the brain is stimulated to organize the pieces into a coherent piece of information.

·         Improves photographic memory. Because of the vivid images in a mind map, it only makes sense to say that it will help a writer improve his photogenic memory.

·         Improves the flow of ideas. Because we are in a better position to understand the connections between different pieces of information, our brain is motivated to bring forth creative and unique ideas that we would not otherwise have brought forth in any normal circumstance.

·         Enables you to exude confidence and this enables you to effectively manage the huge pieces of information that you are dealing with.

In conclusion, mind mapping is a very important tool that all aspiring writers should aim to use. It has been proven that mind mapping one of the best tools for brainstorming. If you want to write refreshing and creative stories, then consider using this very important tool as you will not go wrong with it.

 

Comments

bclark@metacomm.com.au
Brian Clark

Thank you for an excellent blog post Tina. I have been an avid 'mind-mapper' for many years and continue to use it daily in my business and writing. Most of my maps are done using software but my most creative outputs are definitely achieved using pens and paper. 

Kind regards, 

Brian


October 12, 2016