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Mapping is one of the more common types of informal invention. It should be used when writers encounter writers’ block or when they are having trouble organizing their thoughts or ideas. This type of informal invention is good for coming up with ideas that are connected to a central topic, and it can also be used to further develop ideas that have already been discovered. Mapping is used by writers to gather their thoughts and ideas before they begin a paper or other document. It is more for visual learners and can be used in both fiction and non-fiction writing. The end result of mapping should be a web-like structure of words and ideas that are somehow related in the writer’s mind. Here are some guidelines for this type of invention:
- Generate a topic. (What will be the focus of your thinking? Your topic should be no more than a few words. By keeping your topic simple, you will be able to understand more aspects of it through the map. A broader topic will give you more with which to work in the future).
- Place that topic in the center of the page. (Write it in bold letters. Circle or place a square around the topic).
- Start writing what comes to mind. (As you generate thoughts, draw a branch from the main topic. Keep it to as few words as possible. Print clearly.)
- Begin branching. (Try to extend your thoughts from one idea to the next. Draw lines between thoughts to create lateral thinking. Number your ideas to create organization.)
- As new ideas come forth, draw a different branch from your topic.
- Repeat branching until all your ideas appear on the map. When you are finished mapping, carefully study the connections that you have made between your thoughts and ideas and try to relate them.
- Don’t get stuck in one area, keep your ideas flowing. Do not be discouraged if some of your branches prove unpromising. Just start at the central idea and work your way out again.
- No censorship is allowed in this type of invention.
- Attach more paper if necessary. Break the “8×11 mentality.”
- Color can help to make a clear pathway between branches.
- Keep one branch of thought one color and another branch a different color.
- Graphics can always represent words: feel free to draw pictures instead of writing words.
- Keeping your map clean is essential. If your map becomes too messy, it will be harder to go back and understand what you have written.
Things You’ll Need
- Colored markers or colored pencils
- Your mind!
Sources and Citations
- The following links provide sample models of mind maps:
- http://www.topicscape.com/mindmaps/ (Mindmaps Directory to hundreds of categorized maps)
- http://www.sourceforge.net (FreeMind)
- http://www.ignitecast.com (Ignitecast.com FreeMind Tutorial)
- http://www.mind-mapping.org/ Master list of all mind mapping software
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