Sunday, June 14, 2009


I'm a great believer in mind mapping and use it for all sorts of things. On the creative writing course I teach at the British Council, I show my participants how to mind map their ideas as a springboard into a piece of writing. (The best book that has been written about clustering is Gabriele Rico's Writing the Natural Way. Her website is here.).

Start with a word (can be quite random) in the centre of the cluster and then map out all the associations you can make with the word. When you have filled up your piece of paper, start writing from any point of the cluster, and you will find you have plenty of ideas.

I've just stumbled across an amazing piece of software called FreeMind which is a great help with this process, and best of all - it's free!

I had been meaning to get started on a piece to submit for MPH's Ke Sana-Sini travel stories collection and today decided to throw my ideas down using Freemind. It worked like a dream. I love the way I can move things around and edit it, and add new ideas to it as they occur to me. It really does free the mind.

You can see how far I've got with it so far if you click up the pic below ... but don't expect to make too much sense of my messy chain of thoughts.

Now kick me if I don't have a decent piece written soon.

Postscript :

Damyanti also blogged about using mind-maps for writing here.


asmerrr said...

hi sharon,

You have a great blog here. I tried 'mind mapping'in reverse just two days back to come up with a short story...I had a few ideas (collected over years)in the form of sentences and scenes but the underlying story (i felt) was really the same. Mind mapping helped me connect them down to one incident....and now the part about actually writing it down.. best of luck with the travel writing piece.

bibliobibuli said...

am intrigued by the idea of mind mapping in reverse. i think whatever works for you has to be good. i interview characters when i get stuck and let them tell me the story while we have a cosy chat over coffee.

Anonymous said...

Sharon, write it! write this story! I want to read it- Kuala Langsar and love sounds intriguing. Jane Sunshine

Anonymous said...

The MPH competition is in English?

animah said...

Just as long as you include the Punjabi chap who tried stuffing money down your bra! You must tell me the real story one day. That and the bulbous onions.

bibliobibuli said...

anon - not a competition, sorry mislead. collection of travel stories. i will post something else about it tomorrow.

animah - yes the punjabi chap was hilarious. cow herder by day, tiny guy with a big belly, turban, handlebar moustaches. he came to a party at the Idris club. said not a word to anyone. when the dancing began came up to me with a bunch of notes in his hand and tried to stuff them down the front of my dress. was it a throw back to the days when girls were hired for dancing? what did they call them, taxi dancers?

bibliobibuli said...

oh and the "bulbous as a clutch of onions" - burgess compared the domes of the ubudiah (?) mosque to them ... and the image has never left my mind.

Anonymous said...

Thew only problem with it is that you soon run out of paper. The graphs go on forever and you only have A4..

Anonymous said...

What you need is a huge roll of paper, and where would you find that in here?

christinejalleh said...

Cool tool, Sharon! I've got to try it out. For now, I cluster on paper and then draft on the laptop.

If I could everything on the laptop, that'd be easy but that'd also mean my handwriting will go to the pits LOL

By the way, here's an article I wrote for The Star a while ago on "How to kickstart your writing" (which includes clustering and Tony Buzan's graphic mind-maps) :)