Staring down a blank document page on the screen.
You know you should get started capturing your thoughts for your next piece of content.
But it’s as if your brain is mired in quicksand.
You try jotting down a few thoughts. But they just don’t sound right. So you highlight them and hit the DELETE key. Once again, the screen is blank. You’re convinced the cursor is mocking you. You drag it to the bottom of the screen, so it won’t distract you any more.
You shift nervously in your chair and try to concentrate.
After 15 minutes of this torture, you get up, go downstairs and do a load of wash. Anything to get away from that stark, white, unforgiving, blank document.
Why do that to yourself?
Why not use a mind map to outline your content. It’s easy. And it helps you to sidestep the dreaded phenomenon of writer’s block. Here’s how:
- It represents friction-free idea capture. You can just start recording thoughts without worrying about how they’re organized. You can do that later.
- All you need to do is capture a word or two at a time. No complete sentences, fully-formed thoughts or perfect story arcs. This is a visual outline. A 50,000-foot view. It doesn’t have to be neat or complete. It’s a work in progress.
- Go ahead. Do a brain dump. Capture all of the half-formed, half-baked thoughts out of your head and into the light of day, one per topic. Keep going until you can’t do it any more.
- You’re starting to feel more confident now.
- Step back and look at what you’ve captured. What other ideas do the elements of your mind map suggest? Record those, too.
- As you build out your visual outline, look for opportunities to distill and organize what you’ve captured. What bits and pieces belong together? Move them onto the same branch. What thoughts aren’t complete? What’s missing? Add topics and subtopics to address them.
- Create a map topic where you can capture what else you need to make your outline complete – for example, additional research you need to conduct, a subject matter expert you need to talk to, a statistic you need to verify. Use this section of your mind map as your own little to-do list. You can always delete it as your map nears completion.
By now, you should be off to a strong start.
There – doesn’t that feel better?
Have you ever tried to manage your writing with mind maps? My visual guidebook, How to Streamline Your Writing with Mind Mapping Software, will show you all the ways you can use them to streamline your planning, outlining, writing and promotion.