Why I insist on blathering about mindmapping


Word count: 644 words

Reading time: About 2.5 minutes

Have you ever heard me talk about mindmapping and wondered what all the fuss was about? Here’s an explanation…

I bribed my daughter last week.

When she asked for help with an essay I looked her squarely in the eye and said, “Have you done a mindmap yet?” When, as I expected, she answered no, I agreed to help only if she did a mindmap first.

But why do I insist on blathering on about mindmapping she wanted to know, for about the 100 millionth time.

Over the years, as I’ve engaged in my not-so-subtle proselytizing about mindmapping with family, friends and subscribers, I’ve discovered the world divides rather neatly into four camps. They are:

The uninitiated: People who’ve never heard of mindmapping. They wouldn’t recognize a mindmap if they fell into one.

The unlucky: People who’ve been taught how to mindmap for strategic planning or party organizing but who’ve never been told it’s the single best way to turbo-charge their writing.

The uncomfortable: People who’ve tried mindmapping, found it doesn’t work for them and truly don’t understand what the fuss is all about.

The unmerciful zealots: These are unabashed fans, like me, who’ve found that mindmapping dissolves writer’s block and makes a formerly dreaded task faster and far more pleasurable.

Why do I like mindmapping so much?

1) It’s easy. In fact, I knew how to do it for at least a dozen years before I started using it for writing. Ironically, it had seemed too simple. Too much time in school had taught me that something had to be difficult for it work. The plain truth is, the world doesn’t hand out rules like that. Some things in life are difficult and some are just easy.

Here’s how to do it: Take a piece of blank paper and turn it landscape fashion so you feel the freedom of lots of space. Write your central idea in the middle of the page and draw a circle around it. Then start brainstorming. Write down everything that springs into your brain — no editing, no censoring! (See graphic, above.) Embellish with pictures if you like.

2) It’s inexpensive. While you can buy some software to help you mindmap, you don’t need to. Most frequently, I use a pencil and a piece of paper. My latest innovation in the paper department is an artist’s booklet on a ringed binder. (Not that you need this –- but it’s pretty and it keeps my mindmaps organized and in one place.)

3) It works. Mindmapping makes writing more fun. It gives you access to your deep unconscious where all your best ideas are hiding. It helps you escape the tyranny of just the facts, ma’am and envelopes you into the warm world of stories and metaphors. Mindmaps INSPIRE writing. Outlines almost never do this for reasons I’ve explained before.

If you’re one of the uncomfortables, please know that your irritation likely means you’re doing something wrong. I understand this makes me sound fervent but I hate for you to have to suffer from writer’s block.

Here’s where you may have gone astray: You’re trying to be overly organized (stop fussing about which thought links with which!) You’re staring into space too much (keep your hand moving all the time even if you’re drawing or doodling!) And, finally, you’re not writing the best idea in the centre of the page. To fix this last problem, take your idea for a walk before you start your mindmap and ensure you have anangle rather than just a topic. (I’ll write more about this soon, in a future column.)

If you’re one of the uninitiated or the unlucky you might want to re-read the 17-page electronic booklet on mindmapping I sent you when you subscribed to this newsletter.

And, finally, if you’re one of the unmerciful zealots, well, stop reading and go do a mindmap right now! (By the way, my daughter completed her mindmap in less than fives minutes and had no difficulty writing after that.)

Posted January 24th, 2012 in Power Writing

  • John Daley

    Hi Ms Grant,

    I receive your weekly newsletter and find it very informative and helpful. Thank you. I’m not sure I ever received your booklet on mindmapping. Of if I did, I have misplaced it. If you have any spare copies, would you please send one to me?

    Thank you,
    John Daley
    64 Carmine Drive
    Wappingers Falls, NY 12590

    • John, please call me Daphne! I have now sent the mindmapping booklet to you. Other subscribers who see this message: please note that AS SOON AS you subscribe to my newsletter you will receive a LINK to this booklet. Don’t forget to download it!!

  • Catherine753

    Like John, I receive your newsletter and love it. Unfortunately, it has been a very long time since I subscribed and I cannot find where I saved the mindmapping booklet. Can you resend?

    • Done! Hope you enjoy it, Catherine!

    • Daphne Gray-Grant

      Catherine, I sent this to you on your request about a month ago but just realized I hadn’t noted that here. Did you find it helpful?

  • Joel

    Dear Daphne, I hate redundancy almost as much as the self critic in my mind’s map. Unfortunately my plea is the same as John and Catherine753’s – I missed the link or else the dog ate it (hate it when they do that). Would you send another and I’ll even promise to write you back with the results, since I am in the “uncomfortables” camp
    Thanks, Joel

    • Daphne Gray-Grant

      Joel – I’ve happily sent you a copy.

  • writerbug

    I hate to jump on the bandwagon, but can I have another link, too? I am a subscriber also and I must have deleted the link when I subscribed way back when.

    • Just back on this posting to answer someone else and I saw I’d never replied to your query. Did I answer you privately? (I sure hope so!) If not, let me know and I’d be happy to send it now.


    I am one of those who would like the link to mindmaping sent to me: olliewoods@aol.com. It’s been a long time since I subscribed and two or three computers ago and I cannot find it. Thank you. Ollie

  • clark.pauline@sympatico.ca

    Rather than trying to sign up again, is there a way to get this mind-mapping ebook again? I usually save these things but I can’t find it anywhere on my computer! Thanks!

  • Gary McEntee

    Daphne, I haven’t been able to locate the 17 page Mindmapping article I downloaded. Please resend me a copy. Thanks, Gary

  • Jayme del Rosario

    I would love to know more about mind-mapping! Mind if I get a copy of your mind-mapping ebook, too? delrosario.jayme@gmail.com Thanks! All the best, Jayme

  • Sue Ridewood

    Hi, Daphne, I’m in the “dog ate my mindmapping booklet” camp. Would you mind sending to me again, please?

  • stooiebababooie

    Daphne: I need the mindmapping document again please! My work computer crashed and I lost 15 years of documents and email files. I love your column yesterday on “How to write your book.” Thank you! rhuntin520@aol.com

    • Oh, computer crashes are the worst! I’ve resent it to you on your AOL address.

      • LZ

        Hi, Daphne.

        Please do the same for me too.

        Thanks and more success to you.

  • Connie Miller

    Daphne – I, too, have misfiled your article on mind-mapping. Could you pleas send?

  • AMD

    Hi Daphne- I am one of the unconfortables in using mindmaps. I alsways want to use it but havent been consistent with it. Kindly send me the mindmapping document at my email id:

    Thanks and regards

  • Keir Moorman

    Hi Daphne- I really enjoyed your article on mindmapping. If it’s not to much trouble, could you send me your mindmapping document.

    Thank you!