2018 To Do: November

September’s To Do task was to brainstorm, which went very well. And since then it’s been a very productive idea-generating couple of months. But at the end of the day, you need to write it down. if all you have are ideas floating around in your head, you don’t have much. Even if you have a great memory no one’s memory is perfect and what if the one thing that you forget is the the thing that would make or break your project?

Now, I’m old school. I actually like to write things down. On paper. With a pen. Or pencil. (I’m flexible.) And while obviously using an app can be more convenient, paper works really well for me. There have been some studies that conclude that writing something down actually helps you remember it. I don’t know if that’s true for other people, but it is for me.

So I’ve been writing it all down—at home and on the go—and the time came to put all the pieces together. In November I decided I would gather all the detailed notes, jotted-down ideas, and random thoughts associated with my project and really map it out and get a better feel for the big picture.

To do this I tried something new to me, I created a mind map. It’s a simple concept really, basically it’s a diagram of your ideas and how they interconnect. If you’ve ever seen an episode of any of Law & Order or any other police procedural you’ve no doubt seen the whiteboard used to map out elements of the crime, suspects, etc., that’s basically a mind map.

With my grad school work in literature and my professional work as an editor and writer I’m more than familiar with outlining. But I’ve always built linear outlines—I would write things down, I never diagrammed my ideas. Now that I have, I’m hooked. It’s amazing to see how things fit together and how it actually helped me refine my ideas and reshape my concept where necessary.

And similar to how writing things down can help you remember them, mapping out your ideas might actually help you understand and learn ideas better. It’s like note taking on steroids. Now while I started my mind-mapping adventure on paper, there are great apps and software available that make it easy to take you map with you so you can work on it whenever your next stroke of genius hits (the one app I’m experimenting with is Mindly).

Have you ever tried mind mapping? I love to hear about your experiences and reactions to the process. Any suggestions?

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