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How to Use Mind-maps to Improve Your Writing

I was bumping my head on a story yesterday, literally struggling to get to what happens next, when I thought of mind-mapping. I made a mind map yesterday and slept over it, and today I have the answer, and am raring to go.

This reminded me of a post I had done years ago, and thought I should do a re-post, so here goes:

I have written a few articles on mind-mapping, and realized its potential for a writer, whether it is used for fiction or non-fiction.

A mind-map is essentially a diagram created on a page, which contains the gist of information on any given topic. The subject under discussion is placed at the center of the page, and then the ideas that occur to you when thinking of the subject are placed at the end of branches stemming from it. This branching out is free, unconstrained and extremely stimulating, because you can see the big picture at a glance, and can include images as well.

You can use a chalk on blackboard, pen on a piece of paper and even free software to make a mind-map. For a writer, it can be a fascinating alternative to taking notes, because its free-thinking associative nature mimics that of the creative mind.

Mind mapping and fiction:
You can create a mind-map for each of your characters, working in appearance,personality, background, timeline and so on.

Plot-lines work out smoothly through mind-maps as well, because you can easily see how each character and event is related to the other in the universe of a novel on a simple page as a snapshot. Plot crinkles can get ironed out this way, or new pathways chosen on the spot!

Brainstorming this way can be incredibly fun and most always successful. Collaborative brainstorming done between friends and colleagues using this technique can yield some fantastic results.

Non-fiction and mind-mapping: Without realizing it, I have been making mind-maps on subjects on which I need to write articles, and they really help, because I can easily go from headings and subheadings to the actual matter and the kind of images I’d need.

Research using mind-maps: It is so easy to read, research and retain while working on a writing project if you use these maps. Whether you are a historical fiction writer researching background or a feature writer for a magazine collecting medical facts and definitions, mind-maps make it incredibly simple to reduce all of it into understandable pictures that contain all the info at a glance. It is there is your brain and on the map right when and where you need it.

Writer’s meets and mind-maps: Taking notes through mind-maps at conferences, or taking such a map with you on the podium before speaking, is a great way of keeping track of all the points that need to be covered. The same goes if you are attending a creative writing workshop.

It might sound a little complicated, but once you start on it, it is addictive.

Try planning a party or an upcoming vacationing trip through a mind-map, and see what you get. Use lots of different colors and put down everything that comes to mind, and very soon you would find yourself planning your next bit of writing using mind-maps!

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her forthcoming literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and will be published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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