You may have heard of mind maps. They sound kinda fancy schmancy and a little mysterious.
Truth be told, they’re really not all that fancy- I mean essentially mind maps are just circles and lines.
But mind maps are powerful tools for writing blog posts. Let me show you how.
What’s a Mind Map?
First let me give you the “official” Wikipedia definition:
A mind map is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks, or other items linked to and arranged around a central key word or idea. Mind maps are used to generate, visualize, structure, and classify ideas, and as an aid to studying and organizing information, solving problems, making decisions, and writing.
And now, my definition in terms of blogging:
A mind map is a diagram used to organize your thoughts before you write a post.
Don’t confuse mind maps with the outlines you used to do in school. An outline is linear and more rigid like this:
I. Main topic
a. sub topic 1
b. sub topic 2
c. sub topic 3
I don’t know about you but my mind jumps around a little more than that.
Creating a mind map is like doing a “brain dump.” You have an idea for a post. And then one of two things happens- you either have so many things to say that you can hardly think straight OR you have the idea for a post but have no idea which direction to take.
With a mind map, you dump all those thoughts flying around in your head, both the big ideas and the little ones. Mind maps let you bounce around from topic to topic, jotting down ideas as they come to you.
They’re kinda like schizophrenic homework for preparing you to write your blog post.
Do mind maps work for all types of post topics?
I’d say a mind map will help you for most, but not all, of your posts. I use mind maps for about 75% of my posts. For every Momcomm Monday I definitely create a mind map. For the Joy in the Ordinary post I wrote the other week, I created a mind map. I also created a mind map for my post 7 Non-Insane Tips to Capture Family Movies.
Three different types of posts. All written by first doing a mind map to collect my thoughts, clarify my ideas and brainstorm what I’d write about.
Product reviews, an opinion piece, how tos, stories from a family event… with all of them you could benefit by mind mapping it first.
How do you create a mind map?
The simplest way to show you is to first let you see the mind map I drew for this post (I did it using my Wacom pen tablet so excuse the crappy handwriting):
Is started drawing branches off the MIND MAP circle with all the ideas that I had about this post. Some ideas needed more details so then I drew branches off that. They aren’t detailed; just simple notes that lay out what I want to say for this post.
Now for doing your own… In the center of a piece of paper, draw a circle. Then write your topic in the circle.
This is the part where the pistons start firing. Draw a branch coming from the circle and write down . Let it be spontaneous. Don’t censor yourself. You may not end up using everything you write down but that’s okay. At this point, you’re just jotting down whatever comes to you.
If you’re stuck, think about your topic in the context of the 5W’s and H: Who? What? When? What? Where? and How?
If you want an extra spark of creativity, try doing your mind map somewhere else other than a piece of paper. You can get a dry erase marker and write on a window or a mirror. At one of the companies I used to work for, we used to write on the windows with dry erase markers. It always “felt” more creative and funny enough, I think it helped us brainstorm.
Once you feel like you’ve completed your mind map, take a break. Go grab a drink or pull the kids off your leg. Then come back and take a look. You may see that you have everything you need to start writing right away. Or you may start numbering the main topics so you know how to order your thoughts. Either way, you should be well on your way to writing a great post.
Just a note. Next Monday is Labor Day so there’ll be no Momcomm Monday. I’ll be doing enough laboring from driving four hours with two kids in the car.