Back in 2003, I listened to a course by Michael J. Gelb about a creativity device called mind mapping. The idea is that using a non-linear method for keeping notes and organizing your thoughts will spark creativity and help you better see connections between seemingly disparate ideas or parts of a subject.
A mind map is essentially a diagram representing whatever subject you want to take notes on. I’ve used it to outline my goals, take notes in class, and plan a project. I’m also going to use it to help me visualize and organize my next book. I may even use it for the current one to help create my synopsis, pitch, and query letter.
So, by now you’re probably wondering what a mind map looks like. Here’s a sample mind map created by Danny Stevens that illustrates the guidelines.
Despite its freeform approach, mind mapping actually has several guidelines for making it effective. They include the following (from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_map):
- Start in the center with an image of the topic, using at least 3 colors.
- Use images, symbols, codes, and dimensions throughout your Mind Map.
- Select key words and print using upper or lower case letters.
- Each word/image is best alone and sitting on its own line.
- The lines should be connected, starting from the central image. The central lines are thicker, organic and flowing, becoming thinner as they radiate out from the centre.
- Make the lines the same length as the word/image they support.
- Use multiple colors throughout the Mind Map, for visual stimulation and also to encode or group.
There’s no limit to what you can use mind mapping for. As an example, I created a simple mind map for the hero of my current book, using the free version of MindNode (which does not support images or connections but is still a good option for getting started).
If you’re the hands-on type, get out your colored markers and blank paper. Start making links and drawing pictures and see where it takes you. If you’re more inclined toward digital media, try one of the many software programs out there created specifically for mind mapping.
And most of all, have fun!
NOTE: Tech Tuesday is on hiatus until I’m struck with new ideas for Scrivener or other technology posts. Feel free to make requests for any tech topic, Scrivener or otherwise.
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