Source: Greg Williams via Flickr
Source: Greg Williams via Flickr

I’ll be honest. Until I started writing and reading extensively about writing, I had never heard of mind mapping.

Outlining, yes. Mind mapping, no.

Early on in my drafting, I felt the need for a bit more organization. I tried outlining. It had never been a great gift of mine. Indexing on cards didn’t work well for me either.

And then I came across an article on mind mapping. The information shared struck a chord, and I began investigating some of the online mind mapping tools, while questioning whether it would work with writing memoir.

My next search for information landed on a blog where a writer shared his experience using a mind map to write memoir. Voilá! I had my answer, or answers, I should say. More or less, Paul Donovan Campos‘ post outlines for you the method I have developed following his suggestions.

I love visual experiences and since I’m not an artist, mind mapping using an online mapping program was what I found to be most helpful. A visual experience, for me, interacts associatively with the creative part of the brain and drives me to consider detail, dialogue, character development.

Enter Mind42. Granted mind mapping is similar to outlining. However, for me it is the linear nature of outlining I find so troubling. Mind mapping gave me a diagram, a flow chart, or for some it’s the equivalent of a wall of Post-It notes.

Before I knew it I had a map to follow to write my memoir. It wasn’t thorough, nor was it everything it is today. Here’s my first map and when I need a bit of clarity I refer back to it, simply because it is so clear and clean:

Click on image to enlarge
Click on image to enlarge

This map has evolved over the last three years for a variety of reasons. As I looked at this clear diagram of my story, I realized I wanted to take another path. I also discovered other sources of mind mapping sites and softwares. With each one, I found greater capabilities and ease of use.

Currently I’m using Mind Maple, a free downloadable software. Also available via Google Chrome is a free extension for Mind Meister, which I haven’t used much. And recently, the developers of Scrivener introduced Scapple, now available as a free trial beta version on a Mac OS.

Honestly, it’s not about what you use to mind map.

It’s all about using what you’re comfortable with. Perhaps you are a gifted sketcher; then sketch your mind map. Or maybe you like the Post-It note mapping; that works too. Or try one of the online resources or a free download or trial.

Most importantly, understand that mind mapping is not a foreign language, and it isn’t incapable of working with memoir writing or any form of writing for that matter.

No longer should the phrase “mind mapping” be shrouded in mystery and perplexity.

16 thoughts on “How to Use Mind Mapping in Writing Memoir

  1. This is template I’m certainly going to save. When I taught, students felt less stressed about writing when they had a mind map, word web, cluster to fill in. It surely beats starring at a blank page. And when the writing is ready for the revision phase, the template can be revisited to modify, add. Most Americans, I’m told are visual learners anyway. This technique capitalizes on that. Once again, great post, Sherrey.

    1. Marian, I really find it the simplest way I’ve ever organized anything. I love the idea of modifying it when you reach the revision phase. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Helpful info, Sherrey. I’ve encouraged people to use a similar mapping routine in writing memoir, but you’ve shared some excellent resources with us. Thanks so much, and you know I will share your post with others. 🙂 I also appreciate what Marian Beaman said in her comment: when it comes time to revise, a modified template is a good idea.

    1. Linda, hello and good to see you! Glad you came by to read this post and to add your thoughts to the conversation. Yes, Marian’s comment about revisions and modifications to the template is great! Thanks for sharing this post!

  3. Looks like Scrivener — can’t really see the images — I do have to get something to help with my writing… some day when the house is done

    1. Sue, if you click on the first image, it enlarges nicely. It isn’t Scrivener — I used Mind42, an online cloud service for mindmapping. But the document itself is now saved in Scrivener where I’m writing my memoir. Good to see you here. 🙂

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