Mind Mapping a Book

Over the past couple of months I’ve been writing my latest book, and there are a few differences to the past eight books that I’ve written (well, published – I’ve written a few others that have not been published yet, but that’s a whole other story).

First, the topic of this book is… get ready… big surprise coming up… here it is… the topic is… performance in the workplace, and specifically how managers can bring out the best performance in their people.

But the second difference between my past books and this one is the process that I’m using to write it. I’m writing it using the mind mapping software, MindManager. If you’ve never used mind mapping to develop ideas and thoughts, you’re really missing something.

In his classic book, The Mind Map Book, Tony Buzan introduces mind mapping by claiming it’s “how to use radiant thinking to maximize your brain’s untapped potential.” Some consider Buzan to be the inventor of the mind map, but somehow I think people have been thinking in images and maps for centuries. I bet that there is a mind map scratched into the wall of a cave somewhere!

I’ve been using MindManager software for mind mapping to collect and organize my thoughts and ideas for years – and now to write a book. And by simply writing text in the notes section of each branch of the mind map, the book is coming together.

In the past, my process for writing a book worked like this: I’d make a list of all the topics I wanted to cover, organize them in sequential order, write all the content, realize that I needed to cut and paste topics around, move them around, re-write, edit, write more, and so on. Like most things, writing a book about any topic is not a sequential thing – rarely does any complex topic happen one-after-another. In reality, one sub-topic relates to another, and another, but the first sub-topic needs to be discussed first to get the basic concept out there, and then the other sub-topics can be talked about in more detail, then… well, the challenge with writing just about anything is explaining and presenting the information in a way that it builds upon itself, and in a way that the reader can truly understand.

With past books, I’ve used mind maps to lay out my basic ideas (like the one to the right which was used for Speed Secrets 5), then I would start writing in Word, and often I’d collect the key topics and sub-topics in a spreadsheet to make sure I wasn’t forgetting anything. Oh, plus I’d have handwritten notes stuffed into a folder, pulling them out whenever I remembered to check – if I did. Bringing all these ideas together in one place was not easy.

And that’s why I love mind mapping, and particularly MindManager. I can collect, organize, see the connections between various sub-topics, re-organize, integrate, add a quick note, and fine-tune over and over again in a very easy way. It’s a matter of dragging and dropping. And being able to write my content directly into MindManager means I don’t have to jump back and forth between multiple applications.

Partially as a learning process, and partly because I think it will result in a better book, I intend to write the entire book with MindManager. When it’s complete, I will then export it to Word and do my final editing. Now if I could only get MindManager to publish, distribute and sell the book once it’s finished! Hmmm… there’s an idea!

Of course, mind mapping and using MindManager is not just for writing books. I’d love to hear how others use it…

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