I have found mind maps to be a fast way to build up ideas. The best free mind mapping app I have found is a cross platform app called Freemind.

Freemind is an nicely made free app to make mind maps on computers (Mac, Windows, and Linux). You can also draw a mind map on a piece of paper with a pencil or pen. I prefer mind map apps because I can easily move things around while designing the structure of the book.

To install it, follow these instructions.

  1. Go to http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Download.

  2. Select the download for your platform.

  3. Follow instructions on their site.

  4. Open the Freemind app.

  5. Use the menus File | New to create a new map.

  6. Start with your main project.

  7. Add branches to map out your ideas for the scope of your book.

  8. Save the mind map to your project folder. The filename extension is *.mm

media\ExampleMindMap
Figure 1. Example mind map Using Freemind

The benefits of mind mapping include:

  • The mind mapping method is simple to use

  • mind mapping is non-linear, the way my brain works when creating, flitting from idea to idea

  • mind maps are visual, showing the relationships among the ideas helping me get my thinking clear before writing

  • I can quickly prototype a book without any setup time for the authoring tools

  • mind mapping increases my creativity because I can see the associative relationships as I build it out

  • mind mapping increases my productivity because it lets me generate more ideas quickly and sort out my thoughts with a few words or phrases per branch

  • If you’re collaborating, a mind map helps get everyone’s thoughts on the same page

For more information about how to mind map, see The Mind Map Book: How to Use Radiant Thinking to Maximize Your Brain’s Untapped Potential, by Tony Buzan.

There are good paid apps for mind mapping too, but this book is about the free tools. I have used Freemind to mind map for over 15 years and it works great. Mind mapping works wonderfully for me.

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