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Using a mini mind map to generate ideas

All about you

Over the last few posts I’ve been talking about how to generate ideas. In the last post I talked about creating a mini mind map to enable you to generate ideas, so I thought you would like to see one in action. In this one minute video I create a mini mind map of the kind Tony Buzan suggests in his book Use Your Head. (Turn your sound on when you watch this.)

Create your own mini mind map

Here are the steps:

  1. Use a large piece of paper and some coloured pens. In the video I have two A3 pieces of paper stuck to my cupboard doors for the purposes of filming. (If you don’t have large sheets of paper of coloured pens, a notebook and a biro will still work.)
  2. Come up with some categories. There’s a list of suggestions here.
  3. Write your name in the middle of the paper and make it stand out by drawing around it or adding a picture.
  4. Add coloured branches first.
  5. Along each branch, add a category title.
  6. Add sub-branches, getting more specific. Keep going – you can add more and more sub-branches to existing sub-branches if you like.
  7. The colours will make the different categories stand out. You can also draw around the branches in one category to group them together.
  8. Add pictures to make the ideas stand out – this also helps you to mull over what you’ve got.
  9. Reflect on how your different experiences, and different areas of expertise (whether personal or professional) cover a range of topics, and how they could link to still more ideas.
  10. Find ways to connect the ideas or topics on the map together.

How do you use the mini mind map to generate ideas?

Go further with the connections you came up with in step ten, either using more of the ideas on the mind map or using current contexts, society-wide or in your niche or area of expertise.

For instance, under interests on my map, I put ‘singing’. More specifically, I used to sing in a choir. Here’s how I could create an idea using this as a starting point:

  1. A lot of choirs have had to find new ways to rehearse during lockdown. I could use this idea to segue into talking about ‘pivoting’ and what it means for me.
  2. My choir was an LGBT choir in London called The Pink Singers, so alternatively I could write about LGBT choirs around the world and connect that to Pride month.
  3. Singing is great for changing your mood when anxiety takes hold. I know this because I experience anxiety. I could come up a blog post listing ten strategies you can use to calm anxiety.
  4. When my dad had vascular dementia, he lost the ability to speak, but he still sung me happy birthday. It turns out that singing is in a different part of your brain from talking, apparently. This is fascinating and something I would have to read up on in order to write about it.

That’s four ideas from just one entry on the map. Next I would have to decide which would be the most useful for what I’m trying to achieve with my blog.

How much time to put into the idea generating process

What you see in this post and on the mind map took me about an hour. Imagine how many ideas I could come up with if I spent an hour on this a day for a week or spent a couple of days working on it. There are a couple of ways you can expand your thinking to generate even more ideas. They are:

  1. Adding pieces of paper – simply stick them to the edges of your existing map – and add more and more sub-branches, getting more specific, or adding even more about you. (It won’t be a mini mind map anymore!)
  2. Going through all of the map and rifting on the connections between ideas as I did with ‘singing’ above.
  3. Listing out all the different aspects of your niche or area of expertise, or making a list of things happening in the media, and finding ways to connect the items on your list to the branches and sub-branches on your mini mind map.

I hope you can see how ‘starting with you’ works when it comes to generating ideas. You’re harnessing your brain’s ability to make connections between ideas, and you’re starting with the one thing you know most about – you.

More soon. Until then, happy writing,

Louise xx

P.S. If you’re a blogger and want more on coming up with ideas for your blog, go here.

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