I’m a guy.
I don’t like asking for directions, and maps are a kaleidoscopic distraction.
Real men find their way by putting their ear to the ground, picking up scents, and following whatever star happens to be in the sky.
The above sentence is bullshit, of course, unless you live with the Aborigines.
Truth is, maps can be extremely useful, and I sometimes forget the advantages of a good ol’ map when I’m planning a project, writing my novel, or trying to solve a problem.
I recently came across a post from a blogger who recommended storyboarding as a way to get a grip on your novel; you know, the technique used to plan scenes in movies. However, his suggestion, while good, was based on several color coded index cards with plot points, characters, revelations, etc. It seemed way too convoluted to me.
So I searched online for an alternative, a way to throw thoughts against the wall in a more organized way.
What’s a mind map? It’s a visual web of ideas that you can continually build upon. It’s like the old brainstorming exercises you did in school except this is actually useful. Take a look:
Pretty slick, eh? You can add sub ideas to a central idea and keep branching out from there.
You can put notes on each idea (like I did with Chapter 1), change the font and color of those ideas, and even add links and media to an idea (I wrote “idea” quite a bit in that last sentence, eh?).
I’m in the Free Basic program, which allows me only 3 mind maps, but I may just hop in and pay for a person account (about $49 a year).
Of course, mind maps could be used for anything you can imagine: art projects, recipes, shopping lists, jokes. Mind Meister even provides templates for different needs like project plans, to-do lists, and more.
So far, I’m impressed, and since I don’t like planning out my novels in excruciating detail (I prefer to develop the story as a write), these little mind maps would be a perfect compliment to my style. I can fill in each idea in the mind map after I write them in my novel instead of beforehand to keep record of where my story is going.
Oh, and the saving your life part? Hmm. Well, um, if you stress out about planning your novel or you have an overwhelmingly big project to plan, then you risk raising your blood pressure. That’s bad. And, er, you might also . . . get angry at people around you who love you, and they might kill you.