Thursday, March 31, 2016

Mind Mapping

There's something I want to share in the hope of helping writers who might be pulling their hair out like I was recently.

Every so often, I get to that place where the ideas aren't flowing, or if they're flowing, they aren't working. Trying to write when I feel like this can feel like banging my head against the wall.

So this time, when I got really, really stuck, I just stopped. I knew what was happening and I didn't see the sense in going down that path any further. After taking several days off to do other things, I sat down, ready to try again. I had the beginning of an idea, but not much more. How could I get myself moving? I tried to think of all the tools for overcoming writers' block and I remembered one that I had almost forgotten about. It's called mind-mapping.

In researching to see if I got this right and to be sure I wasn't sharing someone's trade secret, I found that there's a lot out there on mind-mapping (especially for kids). It's sort of an elaborate way to brainstorm and get your left and right brain working together. There are some very dry descriptions and accompanying software that can help you mind-map, but what helped me most, was picking up a colored pen and a very large piece of paper and doing it by hand. I am looking for creative solutions and to make connections that I hadn't thought of before.

Items needed:

  • colored markers
  • LARGE piece of paper
  1. write your idea in the center of the paper and circle it
  2. draw a line out from that circle and draw another circle
  3. in that circle, write the first word you think of when you think of your first idea
  4. from that circle, draw another line and then another circle
  5. in that circle write the first word you think of about the last word you circled
  6. repeat this process until you can't think of any more words
  7. Start back at the center and create another branch
This mind-map of mind mapping is a little hard to read, but if you squint you can make out the important parts. Follow the link below to read more.

Be sure to use your colored markers and circles. There's something about this that gets your left and right brain working together. Maybe the visual aspect distracts your creative right brain, while your left brain is free associating. You must also take each path to it's end. Go quickly, don't think too much or self-edit, either. Be silly and open.

Below is my own mini mind-map. Lots of what I wrote is silly and useless, but I definitely came up with some ideas that I hadn't thought of before. (the word in the middle is octopus) An octopus shoe shopping for work? An octopus conflicted about whether or not to eat his friends, the fish?

Once you've finished, take a look at what you've written. Look for new connections that might spark new ideas.

Good luck! I hope this helps.