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Writers - Have You Been Using Mindmapping, Yet? Why Mindmapping Is A Great Alternative to Outlining

Posted by Meggin McIntosh
Meggin McIntosh
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on Saturday, 26 February 2011
in Writing

I've been a big fan of mindmapping for many years - for many purposes. In graduate school I would use mindmapping as a way of consolidating and studying material that I was learning. As a speaker, I use mindmapping to help me plot out a workshop or keynote presentation. And definitely, as a writer, I use mindmapping constantly to assist me in generating and organizing my ideas - and to get me unstuck.

Recently, I did a mindmap to answer the question, "Why mindmap?" because so many people are still new to this way of thinking about, generating, and organizing ideas. I've taken my mindmap and organized it in a linear format here:

  1. Mindmapping taps into the creative portions of our brain. And don't we all know we need those portions tapped into when we are writing?! I think the answer is a definite, "Yes!" You will find that whe you mindmap, you are more creative than when you outline.
  2. Mindmapping is structured similar to the way the brain is structured. When you see diagrams of the brain - with the neurons and dendrites - it looks like a mindmap. I have never seen a diagram representing the brain that looks like an outline. Our brains do not work in a linear fashion, so trying to generate ideas linearly is not particularly productive.
  3. With mindmapping, it is so easy to just keep adding ideas to your map. With outlining, it is more difficult - plus there is always the nagging worry about whether something should be an A or an a - and that if there's an A, there has to be a B. With mindmapping, you don't spend any mental energy worrying about that. You spend your mental energy on creating and linking ideas and have more energy to take back to the composing part of your writing process.
  4. You can change the structure of your mindmap as needed. You can do this if you mindmap on paper (by hand, which is a FINE way and some would argue preferable) or if you mindmap using some of the excellent software. I happily use Mindjet's software for mindmapping when I'm not working by hand. Either way allows me to shift the mindmap around easily.
  5. Mindmapping feels (and is) less restrictive and less limiting than outlining. Just like with any other aspect of writing, you can edit later but during the generation and organization phases, it's nice to be able to feel less restricted.


Just as I used to tell my students at the Talented and Gifted Magnet High School (and my university students), you can't dismiss mindmapping until you have tried it. And you need to try it often enough and in enough different situations to find out how it works for you. Many writers (like me) now default to mindmapping instead of outlining.

And for scores of sets of Top Ten Productivity Tips for Writers like these, you're invited to join others around the globe who subscribe (free) to one of the Top Ten Productivity Tips series (info to be found at):

** http://TopTenProductivityTips.com

(c) 2011 Meggin McIntosh, Ph.D. | The Ph.D. of Productivity | http://www.meggin.com

Through her company, Emphasis on Excellence, Inc., Meggin McIntosh, Ph.D. works with smart people who want to consistently keep their emphasis on excellence.


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