Mapping the Mind

26 Sep

Continuing the theme of the brainstorming post, let’s dive into another prewriting strategy – clustering or mind mapping.

This is a strategy that I’m sure many of you have done and, even if you haven’t, you’re undoubtedly familiar with the concept.

– Clustering/Mind Mapping

Write down your main idea/premise in the middle of a piece of paper and circle it. Go beyond the title of the novel, the name of the scientific formula, etc. For instance, gender roles in The Great Gatbsy is going to generate far more interesting connections than just plain ole The Great Gatsby.

(There are mind mapping programs out there but I really recommend sticking with pen and paper – besides the fact that it’s easier to capture your thoughts with pen, it’s so easy to “lose” a thought to a computer screen)

Now, just let the ideas flow. Write all the words/phrases that come to mind around your central circle. Just write. Do NOT edit yourself, do NOT worry about making connections just yet. All you want to do is write.

Once you feel good about what you’ve got down, start making connections. The first connection will be back to your central circle, of course, but look for connections between the sub-circles. Take a look at this for an example.

Not all clusters look alike either so don’t feel you have to follow some formula. Most mind maps start off looking like this but if the herringbone style makes more sense to you, go for it!

If you can’t figure out what to write about, try using a Venn diagram to compare and contrast your two top choices.

Use whichever type of cluster, mind map, diagram, spider map, etc. that works for you!

If you’d like help clustering, come on in to the Writing Center! We’re here Mon-Fri 2:30-4:30pm. Sign up for an appointment in the Library (see the main counter) or email

2 Responses to “Mapping the Mind”


  1. Getting Organized « LHS Writing Center - October 9, 2012

    […] – Clustering/Mind Mapping […]

  2. Anything Goes Wednesday: Plotting the Plot | LHS Writing Center - May 22, 2013

    […] do you organize your thoughts for any writing that you do? Are you a fan of the mind map? Looping? Or maybe outlining? Perhaps you do something totally different – share it with […]

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