I’ve been a little short on inspiration the last few days (you may have noticed by the lack of original content!). I went searching for new ideas, and found an interesting article on how to outline a book. I haven’t tried it myself yet, but I intend to.
How to Outline your Book and Chapters with Mindmapping
By Judy Cullins
Mindmapping is better than linear outlining because authors can use flexible thinking and relativity in writing their book. One can add and subtract a thought or phrase from a mindmap easily. Mindmapping is an excellent way to start, organize, and finish your book.
What is Mindmapping?
Mindmapping is a color-coded outline of main ideas, sub topics and details, printed on different colored branches connected to the center. In the center in a circle, you will list your main idea, such as your book or chapter title.
For "The One-Minute Sales Person", Spencer's mindmap would have had seven different colored vertical branches coming from that center, so details can be put on connected horizontal branches--much easier to read.
What are the advantages of Mindmapping?
First, a mindmap is open-ended and open-minded. No more squeezing new "ahas" or ideas into the strict, tight form of the linear outline. You can make mistakes in your mindmaps. Imperfection leads to creativity. When you get an idea for chapter one, you can just add another branch off the main one. Mindmapping expands flexible thinking, making for better writing.
Second, mindmaps use only three to five concrete or color words on a branch. These key words help jog our memory. Under Chapter One "Attracting Passion," I added several horizontal lines that represented the format that follows. One line had "opening quote," the next one "introduction," the next one "Jerry's Story," the next "Food for Thought and Action," the next, "Passion Hot Line," the last line, "practice."
Third, mindmaps speed up your writing because you only write key phrases. When you sit down at the computer, from your color-coded map, the answers will flow naturally. If you need to fatten up your chapter, just go to your chapter file folders where you keep your research.
Fourth, in mindmaps you see the whole related to the parts. Your thesis, chapter titles, and chapter contents all flow because you answered each question your readers had. This fast-forward technique allows me to write at least two or three books each year, and makes each book more organized, more focused and clear, easier to read, and finally brings more sales because people can understand the information quickly and easily.
How Do I Create My Mindmap?
Use a large sheet of paper, at least 8 ½ by 11 inches, but I recommend a large square of butcher paper or poster board, so you can spread out and enjoy the process! Have at least six or seven colored felt-tip pens in primary and bright colors ready.
In the center, encircle your title. Arrange your chapter headings, each on a different colored vertical branch, around the center in any order (you can number them later). If you can't think of a title, put a few key words. Use only one color per branch. Off each main branch, put five or so other horizontal branches of particular chapter parts.
Even though you later change your mind about the contents, this initial mindmap gives you the overall picture of what your book is and what it will share with its readers. I made several mindmaps of my Passion book before I settled on the best information to include.
For the colored mindmapping example, go to
Practice: Create your book's mindmap on a separate piece of paper.
Practice: Create one chapter's mindmap on a separate piece of paper now.
Wow! You are up to speed. You have your thesis--what challenge your book will solve, your chapter working titles, your rough draft evolving with a Table of Contents, and you have questions to answer in each chapter.
Mindmapping is an excellent way to start, organize, and finish your book.
Judy Cullins © 2004 All Rights Reserved.
Judy Cullins, 20-year book and Internet Marketing Coach, Author of 10 eBooks including "Write your eBook Fast," and "How to Market your Business on the Internet," she offers free help through her 2 monthly ezines, The Book Coach Says...and Business Tip of the Month at http://www.bookcoaching.com/opt-in.shtml and over 140 free articles. Email her at mailto:Judy@bookcoaching.com
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