Writer’s block. Idea block. Staring at a blank screen…
Sometimes it’s hard to forge ahead with our research and writing. Hard to see the whole picture, makes plans, make connections.
One method to reinvigorate your brain with some creative energy is ‘mind mapping’. Though an old concept, this technique’s modern success is typically attributed to Tony Buzan.
In his words: “A mind map is a visualization of thought. Knowledge is not linear. All kinds of things radiate from your head when you have an idea. It is like an explosion, a supernova…That’s the thought process that a mind map helps to capture.” (citation below)
In essence, mind mapping is a process in which you start with a main idea represented by a single image/word in the middle of the page, and from there branch out to related terms and images as you see fit. As opposed to taking notes or creating an outline in a linear format, a mind map is intended to allow you to explore concepts more creatively, incorporating free associations, images, and color.
Some also argue that this type of individualized mapping improves one’s memory since they are personalizing an idea while simultaneously exploring it.
To better understand, take a look at ThinkBuzan’s “mind map gallery” for some wonderful examples:
Of course, there are many ways to make a mind map. It can be as simple as drawing one out on blank sheet of paper, or as advanced as using mind mapping computer software.
For those interested in testing out the digital tools, here are a few worth exploring:
- iMindMap – created by Tony Buzan. Free trial, but pay for ongoing use.
- bubbl.us – free for 3 basic mind maps per month; monthly charge for extras
- Coggle – free to sign up using a Google account
A more thorough list can be found in this article from Digital Trends about the 15 best mind mapping tools on the market.
Now, enjoy capturing those supernovas!
Quote above from: Buzan, T., & Crainer, S. (2008). Empires of the mind. Business Strategy Review, 19(1), 14-17.