Using mind maps for writing books may replace outlining, at least as the first step in writing a book. Find out how to use a mind map to jumpstart your next project.
What is a mind map?
A mind map is a graphic organizer, a way to organize information or ideas on paper, in an organic and somewhat pictorial way, rather than in a linear fashion, such as an outline or a list. The central or main idea is written inside a circle in the middle of the paper, and related and supporting ideas branch off of that.
Spider-shaped graphic organization of ideas has been around for centuries, and has been attributed to greats such as Leonardo DaVinci. Some attribute mind maps to the much more recent Tony Buzan, and he certainly tried to trademark it and the permutations of the name, but according to Euan at 3mrt.com, who left a comment about it on mind-mapping.org, Mr. Buzan lost his lawsuit and the name may be used without trademark infringement.
How can a mind map help me?
Many writers hate using outlines, but organizing information and ideas is crucial—especially for nonfiction books. A graphic organizer such as a mind map is excellent for this purpose. It allows us to dump onto the paper all of the thoughts we have bouncing around in our brains, and see connections between things we may not have seen otherwise.
After scrawling out the broad categories and supporting details, it’s a simple matter to organize and reorganize things until they look good. Then, we just type up our outline straight from our mind map. I have seen authors who struggled for weeks to create an outline, but after I took a few minutes to show them how to use a mind map for writing books, they had their books organized in one sitting. It is amazing to see.
How do I use mind maps for writing books?
Start with your central theme or topic for your book, and write it in a circle or elliptical shape in the middle. Then think of the main categories or aspects of your topic that you want your book to address, and spread them around your central item, each in its own circle. These may be chapters or other sections of your book. You’ll want to be sure you have them all, but don’t worry if you don’t have them all right now. You can always add another one.
Look at the categories. (It’s tempting for me to say, “Look at one category at a time as you use mind maps for writing books,” but that’s a left-brained approach, and that is not needed here. Jump from one to another all you want). Add little branches to the categories, and on each branch place supporting information that would be needed for your book. If you know something that is needed, but you don’t have it yet, you might want to put a star or dot beside that one, so you have a visual representation of the research you still need to do.
Step back and look at your mind map. Do you notice anything that is missing? Add it. Do you see connections between clumps? Draw lines between them. You may wish to organize your book differently based on what you see. Know that you are the one in control.
Best wishes as you use mind maps for writing books.