More on Mind-Mapping – and a Contest!
Image by sirwiseowl via Flickr
In my series on collecting and organizing ideas, I discussed mind-mapping as a brainstorming tool. Mind-mapping is a kind of free-association method in which ideas are generated by association with a central idea, and then each of the generated ideas in turn becomes a source of inspiration for further brainstorming. Mind-mapping is an interesting blend of right-brain creative exploration and left-brain order-making – although the graphic format and unboundedness of mind-mapping allows for unfettered ideation, the linking of ideas creates a self-organized final product. In fact, most mind-mapping software includes an option to export the seemingly unstructured “blob” of thought that appears on the screen into a neatly-formatted traditional outline, complete with Roman numerals and sub-headings.
Chuck Frey emailed me in response to my mention of mind-mapping to tell me about a post he’d just written on the future of mind-mapping software. His blog is “The MindMapping Software Blog, so we can probably assume that Chuck has spent more than a few minutes thinking about the subject.
According to Frey, mind-mapping software is still barely out of its infancy, and we can expect to see some interesting developments ahead as programmers develop software that allows us not only to visualize the connections between ideas in our heads, but the connections between those ideas and the vast wealth of data on the Web. “The mind map needs to become more of a ‘knowledge hub’,” he writes, “where information can be gathered, manipulated and analyzed.”
Returning to the present, one of the premier mind-mapping applications out there today is iMindMap, the only mind-mapping software officially endorsed by Tony Buzan, the main figure responsible for developing and popularizing mind-mapping. The developers of iMindMap have taken great pains to make the experience of creating mind-maps on the computer as close as possible to the experience of drawing them with pencil and paper. In addition to brainstorming, iMindMap supports a wide range of planning activities, and integrates well with both MS Office and OpenOffice.
iMindMap’s Ultimate version retails for $295 USD, putting it well out of the reach for many writers (including yours truly). But Emily Van Keogh of Buzan Online has offered to give away one free copy of the Ultimate edition to one of my readers.
Which means I get to have a contest!
Now, I could make it easy on you and ask you to send me an email and pick one at random, or something like that, but I want to get into the spirit of the thing. So to enter, I’m going to ask you to answer that oldest of questions posed to writers:
Where do you get your ideas?
You can enter in one of two ways. First, you can leave a comment on this post with your answer. The other way is to write a post of your own, in any public forum you have access too – your own website, LiveJournal, even Twitter if you’re that concise – and put a link to your post in the comments on this post. Just make sure that anyone can read your answer, wherever you decide to post it. (I’d appreciate a link back to the contest, too, but it’s not a requirement.)
Enter by the end of October – that’s the 31st of October for the calendrically-challenged – and I’ll randomly select one entry as a winner. Buzan Online will supply a download link and registration code. Make sure you include your email address in your comment so I can contact you if you’re the winner!
I’m looking forward to seeing your answers to this totally clichéd question. Let’s try to be creative and informative – maybe we can come up with the perfect answer and then nobody will have to ask it any more! And feel free to spread the word – the more the merrier!
I am the webmaster for Loaves & Fishes a nonprofit organization in Sacramento, so I am responsible for most of the written content on the website. My situation is unique because most of the things I write I don’t actually have to come up with, they come to me. At Loaves & Fishes we serve over 1000 people per day, and there is no end to the amount and diversity of stories and interesting events that are taking place. So for most of my ideas, I just write what is happening.
I pull from several sources to give me variety in my material and freshness. I use Google blog search alerts for my keywords to see what other bloggers are writing about. The headlines give me fresh ideas. The local watering hole has also been an excellent source to learn what are people talking about. Especially beneficial for me to learn what people in other circles, age brackets find important. Finally, I mind map myself, going back to old posts and archived writings to increase the stickiness of my blog and give it some character. I try to listen.
I took up your challenge and created a post about how I get my ideas for writing on my Topsy-Techie blog. Stop by and check it out if you get a chance! Great contest!
I get my ideas pretty much out of thin air. Something usually starts with the kids and their questions or antics and I turn it around from there. Also, sitting in a restaurant just people watching is great research and background.
I got the link to your post from Topsy-Techie’s blog.
I get all of the ideas for my blog from my life – friends, family, and our life in general. Most of my ideas come from my 13 y/o son. Our family is close and we spend a lot of time together, so there are plenty of opportunities for ideas!
I had a slightly creative mood and also wrote a post about where my ideas come from – it was interesting to think about it again – thanks!
Most of my ideas come to me at the strangest times: in the shower, while driving, or while reading something else. These are the “a-ha!” moments, the ones that writers live for.
Sometimes my ideas are from deep immersion in the creative process, where connections are formed or two dissimilar things combine to create a new idea. I’ve solved problems this way (the hero has dug herself into a hole, how to get out?).
I value both methods, and I find that the more I indulge myself in these moments, the more the ideas flow.
My ideas come from living life. Every single input from what I see, hear, taste, feel, and smell all floods in. Do I know where it all goes? Nope, just somewhere in my brain. Then it does some sort of wonderful dance up there and swirls together and apart and then somehow, magically it seems, shares it back to the more conscious part of me as a new idea, thought, task, smile, worry, word, brush stroke, or whatever else it is. It doesn’t matter where they come from, just so long as they keep coming!
Thanks to Topsy-Techie for sharing!
I can find it very hard to get ideas on my own. I have most luck while driving in the car or when I am in bed and supposed to be getting up for work. If only I could stay there I am sure I would have written something truly spectacular by now!
One thing guaranteed to get me great ideas is chatting with my best friend and trusted Beta reader. She is phenomenal at talking something through with me and the ideas just poor out of my brain.
Large bits of paper are also essential for trapping all these ideas. I find it useful to be able to write on the whole surface of a table!
I’ll tweet a link to your contest!
Fun contest! I’ll go all out and write a post as my entry…
I have a hard time keeping a system for idea-gathering. I’ve downloaded Evernote, which seems really efficient, but I have yet to really use it. I still stick with pen and paper for brainstorming (and mind-mapping), but I’d love to explore good mind-mapping software.
I’ll post again here when my own post is up!
Here’s my post/entry on where I get my ideas:
Thanks for posting this contest!
Click the link to see my own entry.
Tons of fun!
Ideas evolve out of the human need to fill the gap between realities and aspirations.
My ideas come from my imagination, from my fantasy.
An idea is a very personal thing.
I get ideas by being around people who are different than me and have talents in my areas of weakness. Also, get ideas from connecting with nature and disparate topics of my own interests with note taking using mind-maps, and meditation by reading mind-map and closing my eyes to start journey to visualization of what it is exactly on my mind so I can take it to action.