Mindmaps are known to stimulate both logical and creative sides of the brain. Use of them is often referred as radiant thinking, and they represent clusters of nodes connected by lines. I’ve been using mindmaps on and off since the late 1970s, after first encountering Tony Buzan‘s book – he who coined and trademarked the term “mind map”. I’ve used them for entrepreneurial activities, freelancing, software development, project management and writing – especially for blog posts.
If you’ve never come across mindmaps before, you may want to check out my mindmapping video tutorials over at Tubetorial. If you are familiar with mindmaps but have never used them to develop blog post ideas (or articles in general), take note of how I use them:
- Record a list of undeveloped ideas. For example, blog post titles that come to mind.
- Add subtopic nodes to general idea nodes when you think of them.
- Accumulate sentence fragments attached to subtopic nodes as they come to mind.
- Add URL references attached to map nodes so that you can click on them and view web pages in a browser.
- Explore variations in article discussion flow by recording differing viewpoints. If one “speaks” to you more strongly, go with that.
Approaching blogging in this manner allows you to get a broader view of a topic. Mindmapping software lets you collapse and exapand nodes on a click, letting you see as much or as little detail as you want.
Regular use of mindmaps always sparks creativity in me, especially when combined with a supplementary writing technique such as freewriting – though I freewrite without printing anything.
As I’ve said elsewhere in the past, I have repeatedly woken up some mornings “seeing” an article in my mind. I’ll first accumulate my ideas for one ore more articles in a mindmap, search for some references, browse them, record the URL in a map node. And if I’ve done the proper preliminary activities, the article just might write itself while I sleep, or if I leave it to brew in my mind for a few hours during the day.
You can see a sample below of the mindmap that I used to develop this article. It’s not exactly the same, and it’s a bit more developed than most such maps. Normally, I’d use a bit more point form. I also applied hyperlinks differently.
If you’re interested in reading more about mindmaps, I am working on an article series for another blog about how to use them for productivity. The series is aimed at net professionals (aka web workers), and I’ll announce it here with a sample article.
My favorite mindmapping tool is Mindjet‘s MindManager Pro (desktop), which has a free 21 day trial. If you like mindmapping but do not want to spend $299 on MindManager, there’s Freemind ($0) for the desktop and Bubbl.us, Mindomo, Mindmeister and Comapping for the web – which have free licenses as well as monthly subscriptions. There are of course many more mindmapping applications, though not free. Following MindManager Pro as a close 2nd and 3rd favorite for the desktop are MindApp and ConceptDraw Mindmap.