The best writer’s technique I teach is mind mapping. For pulling ideas out of thin air, reclaiming memories and discovering new directions, it’s unbeatable. Corporations and organisations around the world use this technique in product development and problem solving. Boeing once produced a mind map so large, it spread right around the walls of the conference room. Every time I do this exercise with a class, they are amazed at the ideas which come out of nowhere.
A mind map for a young adult fiction paranormal story may look like this:
Simply explained, you write down your topic in the middle of a blank page, and then you write down whatever words come to mind that relate to that topic. These are linked to the main topic by a line. From there, you can radiate out from the topic, by writing down what you associate with these words, until you cannot come up with any more. You can do whatever you want, as long as the progression of ideas is easy to follow and all your ideas are allowed to flow freely without evaluating them as they come. Later you can keep the ideas that are good, and set the rest aside. You may be able to adapt them later.
I’ve spent so long teaching mind mapping for idea production that it took me awhile to realise it has a further use: organisation and planning. It’s an excellent way of pulling together all those strands of what needs to be done and determining where you’re going. Once things start to become complex, such as my web site, it works as a great visual reference that pulls all the pieces together. For example, at the end of last year I did a planning mind map for my web site which turned out like this:
I found the use of logos helped me quickly identify where each piece of my marketing strategy belonged. Colours also made it so much easier to read.
So when you’re setting goals, plotting chapters, linking up character relationships, working out tasks that need doing, or whatever else needs to be done, try a mind map. There are many great pieces of software for mobile devices and computers which will assist you. For more information, try Buzan’s mind map web site. He has a special interest in creativity. http://blog.thinkbuzan.com/