Unchaining Your Creative Brain
The problem with being open minded is things tend to fall out of it. The problem with freeing your mind is sometimes it wanders off and can’t find its way back.
Mind maps are a great way to let your thoughts wander “outside the box” without getting lost, and there are some great software products out there that make it fast, simple, and even sharable.
Perhaps we should start at the beginning with an explanation of what mind mapping is.
Mind mapping is a non-linear process document that evolves from a central topic or theme into numerous sublevels of other topics. The process of creating a mind map typically allows one to arrive at uncommon solutions and ideas that probably would not have even come up for consideration using a traditional linear problem solving approach.
Note taking is an example of linear process. As you hear or see something, you write down words that will help you remember the things you saw and heard later. Non-linear process is more like a movie, pictures and sounds that are recorded in clips of video.
Mind maps aren’t for everyone. They tend to be used more by right brained individuals (the creative “free spirits”) than the logical, analytical left brained counterparts. Yet the left brained folks are the ones who stand to benefit the most from mind mapping, as they have all the known potential of their left brain and a treasure trove of unlocked potential on the right just waiting to be unlocked and added into a perfect synergy.
Mind mapping is one of those rare non-controversial tools in life that you can take or leave at will depending on whether you find it helpful or just a waste of time.
Creating your first mind map is simple. You need a writing instrument and a piece of paper (a cocktail napkin will do nicely, since it always makes a great story to have the next generation say in awe filled tones, “She [He] just mapped the idea out on a cocktail napkin one day, and here we have a multibillion dollar company [airline] to show for it.”
Or, you can download a free Mind mapping app to your Android or IOS device and make an electronic mind map that you can distribute to peers or even convert to an outline at the touch of a button. We’ll provide a couple of those apps at the end of this article. We’re waiting until the end because we’re hoping desperately that some enterprising app developer out there is reading this and will produce one named “Cocktail Napkin” by the time we finish writing. That would be so cool. One could do a mind map 100% electronically and still truthfully say it was done on a Cocktail Napkin.
Now, pick a topic. How about “Mind Mapping Article”? Place those words in the center of your cocktail napkin. Now think of what you might want to communicate via your mind mapping article. A description of what a mind map is? Sure. Draw a radiating line out from your central topic and write: Description. Now, what would a description need to include? Perhaps purpose of mind mapping and what a mind map looks like? Draw two lines radiating from “Description” and write Purpose at the end of one line and Visual at the end of the other. Maybe you can’t think of anything else to use for a subtopic under description. So go back and think of other higher level topics to include in your mind mapping articles. Like “Mind Mapping tools”. Then under those perhaps “links to mind mapping apps”. How about, “how to create a mind map”?
Perhaps there’s some emotion you want to convey through your article. Maybe you want to inject humor into a subject to help keep the reader’s interest. Perhaps something about fruit. Fruit is funny. Draw a line from your central topic and write “humor”. Draw a line from humor and write fruit. When you’re writing your article after your mind map creation is done, you may look back at it and go, “Oh yeah, I wanted to put something funny about fruit in there.” This will prompt you to end your article with something truly hilarious.
Great job, you’ve nearly written this article, only two paragraphs to go.
Mind mapping is a great tool to get the creative side of your brain primed when it’s been off wandering in the dessert of brain lock and boredom. The greatest part of it is you are free to write down nonsense that no one else will find logical, but may lead you into one of those eureka moments because we all have unique neural pathways within our minds that only we can comprehend.
Mind mapping allows you to uncover the nuggets of brilliance you have stored along those neural interstates without having to show the world the crazy leaps of logical faith you made to arrive at them. After all, too many great ideas have been squashed before they were ever uttered when some silly random thought was publicly expressed and received the response of “that’s crazy” when the simple addition of “…so crazy it might just work.” would have changed our entire paradigm.
Links to the author’s favorite mind mapping apps: