Mind Mapping Your Ideas and Events

I seem to be recommending mind maps to artists with great frequency these days, so I thought it would be useful to review what they are and how you can use them in your art business.

A mind map is a tool for brainstorming or organizing your ideas.

Mind maps are perfect for creatives and artists because they put words and ideas in a visual format.
In contrast to the way we write (linear, left-to-right, up to down), mind maps explode from the center. Related thoughts branch out from the core. It's easier to explain with an image.

A mindmap I created in my notebook when I was considering content for a single lesson in a class I used to teach. You can see that “Blog Posts” was the topic I was brainstorming.

When to Use a Mind Map

Mind maps can be used to generate ideas for anything. Consider creating mind maps for:

  • Your next piece of art
  • A class you're teaching
  • A marketing campaign
  • A talk you need to give
  • A blog post
  • Your newsletter

But mind maps can also be used to organize something you've already created in order to help you understand it better. I mind-mapped the content on ArtBizCoach.com when I wanted to revamp the site.

Old Art Biz Coach Website Content

I used to use a program called My Thoughts for Mac to create mind maps on the computer. It's good to start with pen and paper, but I find that I like to move things around quickly, which this program allows me to do. (Sadly, they no longer make this program and I haven't found a good replacement.)

I'm sure you can find similar programs for PCs, but I would caution anyone who wants to use the computer for mind mapping to look for the simplest program available. There are many out there that are too complicated.

Mind mapping should be EASY. You should be able to do it quickly to keep the brainstorming process fluid.

The resulting map might look complicated, but it shouldn't be difficult to get to that point.

To Mind Map an Idea

Follow these steps to use mind-mapping in your brainstorming session.

1. Draw a circle in the center of the page. Inside the circle, write the topic under consideration.

2. Start your branches from the center. Your first branches will be the main subtopics of your idea.

3. Add additional thoughts to the ends of these branches until you're out of juice.

You can see that this could go on forever!
Use your mind map to create detailed outlines for your writing or plans for your events.

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16 thoughts on “Mind Mapping Your Ideas and Events”

  1. Mind mapping – no surprise it works for artists! I see myself and other artists as problem solvers and ideaphoriacs! Mind mapping is essentially an inductive reasoning strategy where one takes an idea and expands, rather than taking an idea and distilling to a few main points, as in deductive reasoning. Elementary, dear Watson! I like to do this exercise by writing on a white wall at home in my studio. I can fill up the wall with spokes and sub-hubs. It’s fun to write on the walls – makes you feel like you’re breaking the rules!

  2. Mind mapping is also a great tool for writers. I was feeling myself falling into a disorganization pit when your blog arrived in my mail box. Thanks for the reminder!

  3. I’ve been trying to do mind maps using skitch, but there were too many annoying limitations and, like you, Alyson, I likevto be able to quickly move things around. I just spent several minutes looking at google play store to see what is available. Finding a simple but nice looking one is not going to be trivial and I don’t want to buy oneonly to find it doesn’t suit me.

  4. Pingback: Week 22: Wiggle Room | Mandala of the Week

  5. Thank you so much…I downloaded the My Thoughts for Mac program software mentioned in the post & it has already pushed forward my second book…I’ve been trying to map the brain parts to the body parts, & spatially, it is too complex to explain in words…My hand drawn digital images are good but messy…My 3d animation program is so hard that by the time I get the image done I forget what my point was…I love the three easy videos they give you on their site that explains how to use the program, so you don’t have to read the whole manual!
    I still have 20 days for free, so for the $49 dollars I will eventually give them, they have already earned me 10 times as much in intellectual gains…

  6. Wonderful post Alyson! I really like Inspiration software for mindmapping. They have a rapid fire button for fast idea capture. And then you can fuss with it to make it pretty.

  7. Mind mapping is an interesting way of putting your thoughts together, it helps to see a project from more than one view.

  8. Hi Alyson,
    I don’t know how I missed this one, but I’ve been teaching Mind Mapping for
    years, ever since I wrote an article on super learning. I just came upon it in your list today and thought wow! One great thing about Mind Maps is that the brain reads the information on the circle all at once, instead of one item at a time, the way we read lists. So it’s a great tool for learning anything involving memorization, and it’s great as a structural tool for planning a piece of writing.
    Thanks for reminding me of the other uses. There I am teaching the method, and I could be using it to plan my next show, next painting and so on.
    XOXOXOXO Barbara

  9. Great article. I also use mindmaps to share my thinking / inspiration on projects and artworks in my newsletter, twitter feed etc.
    Here’s one for a current project
    They’re a great way to get across the ‘big picture’ of the thinking that goes into a work, a project etc.
    And they help you to spot connections you might otherwise miss.

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