News and thoughts from CS Odessa, maker of the ConceptDraw product line: ConceptDraw PRO, ConceptDraw PROJECT and ConceptDraw MINDMAP.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Blog Post That Will Change the Way You Think About Writing

That's a big claim, I know. But I put it out there because I think that a lot of writers are going about thinking and planning in ways that don't support--and may actually hinder--their creative process.

Bear with me and take this simple test:

  1. Think of two things you want or need to do... maybe your plans for the coming weekend, a home improvement project, a party you want to have, a vacation you want to take.
  2. With a blank sheet of paper before you, take about 5 minutes and make a traditional outline of what you need to do to accomplish one of these things.
  3. Now grab a new sheet of paper for the second thing you thought of. But instead of making an outline, try this approach to capturing your thoughts:
    • Put the name of the thing you want to do in the center of the page... maybe draw a circle around it.
    • Now draw a line out from the center and, at the end of the line, write down one thing you need to do to get the job done.
    • Now draw a second line out from the center and, at the end of this line, write down a second idea. Continue this process for 5 minutes. As more ideas come to you, just keep drawing more lines out from the center and writing down ideas at the end of the one.
    • As you do this, you might notice that some of the ideas you have are related to ideas you've already written down. If this happens, draw a line not from the center, but from the idea your new thought relates to.
  4. Now sit back and look at the two lists. How are they similar? How are they different? Was one list easier to make than the other? Did one method help you generate more ideas?

For many creative people, the process of working with ideas is fluid, with one idea leading to another--and not necessarily in a neat, linear way.

But in my experience, many of these same people use very linear methods like outlines. Why? In many cases, just because they haven't heard of any other way to do it.

Mind mapping can be such a great way to get the ideas out of your mind and onto the page. It's great for everyone who deals with ideas, but it can be especially helpful to writers.

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