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Making a mind map
Work through all those muddled things floating around in your head
I find that this time of year there are a lot of ideas floating around in my head. Leftover ideas from last year that I never got around to, things I am ruminating on, and things I want to plan for. Often it can feel a little bit “soupy” up there in my head. Paired with the slowness and need for rest that this winter season calls for, it doesn’t always feel easy to get mental clarity.
A mind map can help with that. There are different ways to go about mind maps, and you can do one that’s a little more strategic in nature, but for this prompt we’re going to work at a one that’s more free-form, inspired by the way that Austin Kleon approaches them.
Making a mind map can help us to see new connections between things, and also to simply help give form to ideas that are floating in your head. They also allow us to dig a little deeper on concepts and questions that we're ruminating on.
Start in the center. We all know a blank page can be intimidating, so if it’s helpful, do a little scribble or contour drawing to get yourself started.
Choose a word, question, or concept you want to focus on. I went with the word “creativity.”
Write your word, then draw a circle around it. Now write the next word or phrase that comes to mind. Draw a circle around it and connect the two with a line.
Keep going until you fill the page.
You can do this on a page in your sketchbook, or if you’re feeling like your brain is really full and needs to work through a lot of things, grab a larger piece of paper.
Making this style of mind map is intended to be free-form, kind of like doing a free write, or continuous writing like you might do in a set of morning pages. Don’t overthink things. Allow yourself to write down the words that come to mind without self-editing.
If it’s helpful for you, feel free to set a timer, or put on a favorite song that helps put you in a flow state. Anything that helps you to tap into what's on your mind but without judging or questioning it.
Once you've completed the mind map, take a step back and look at it.
What do you see?
What connections can you make?
What themes appear?
What new questions do you have?
Make as many of these mind maps as you need. They’re an excellent tool for working through creative problems/ideas.