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Old 09-03-2018, 12:01 PM   #1
GlenBarrington
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How do YOU use mindmapping software?

I've noticed lately that many blogs about writing are recommending mind mapping apps as a way to organize your thoughts and enhance creativity.

I've downloaded several mm titles, and decided none of them do any better than the opensource "Freemind" title, so I settled on it. However I wonder if I'm getting the most out of it. I don't think it is working, overall, any better than OneNote for me.

I don't want to say how "I'M" using it, since I don't want to inadvertently steer the dialog in a specific direction. But for those who use this software, how do you use it?
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Old 09-04-2018, 03:50 AM   #2
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I started using Mind Mapping in the mid 80s when I went back to college. I found I could MM a whole hours lecture while the lecturer was giving the lecture. The MM for 1 hour's leture was usually 1 side of A4 paper while friends who took down the lecture as text ended up with many pages of text. When it came to revising I found revising MM a doddle and ended up in the top three of those taking my course.

I still have all my lecture notes.

I have tried some MM software but found a pen and a sheet of paper work best for me as I have total and instant control.
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Old 09-05-2018, 03:28 PM   #3
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As regards most mmapping software I agree with Thasaidon, with the single exception of Scapple. Because it's so unfussy and lacks all the visuals of other mmapping software, it's very fast to use. Brainstorming is an easy process of quickly getting down ideas and speedily linking them. You can make certain nodes stand out with colour etc, but this is all done after the initial thinking.

For "pretty" mind maps, with different colours and illustrations, I prefer felt pens and an A3 sheet of paper. But I rarely do this since trying and purchasing Scapple.

Before Scapple I tried XMind (the free version) and Freemind. The visuals of XMind were nice, but it was so faffy that the ideas were lost in the search for pretty icons etc.
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Old 09-05-2018, 04:08 PM   #4
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Agree on pen and paper being superior. I use it when planning stuff in/with groups. In conjunction with a recursive top-down-breakdown based on goal-method-resources. Usually start with MM and then formalize it with a write-up based on the recursive breakdown. Two almost orthogonal methods. A pretty MM may fit fine in an abstract part.
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Old 09-05-2018, 05:29 PM   #5
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I'm curious as to why people prefer mind mapping over outlining? For me, I just have a very hard time mind mapping, where outlining flows easily.

An outline is also easier for me to use as a study tool--when I look at mind maps, they just seem like a jumble to me, and I have a hard time sorting them.

Shari
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Old 09-05-2018, 09:34 PM   #6
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[QUOTE=shalym;3744575]I'm curious as to why people prefer mind mapping over outlining? For me, I just have a very hard time mind mapping, where outlining flows easily.

An outline is also easier for me to use as a study tool--when I look at mind maps, they just seem like a jumble to me, and I have a hard time sorting them.

Shari[/QUOTE

I have no problems sorting mind maps out. Sometimes I do not allow enough room for an area of interest and have to squash things in. When this happens I redraw the mind map with better spacing. This does not happen very often.

On reflecting about the contents of the MM I can add in links, comments and info that would be awkward to incorporate into an existing outline.

But it is horses for courses. Use what suits you.

Last edited by Thasaidon; 09-05-2018 at 09:35 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 09-06-2018, 12:16 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shalym View Post
I'm curious as to why people prefer mind mapping over outlining? For me, I just have a very hard time mind mapping, where outlining flows easily.

An outline is also easier for me to use as a study tool--when I look at mind maps, they just seem like a jumble to me, and I have a hard time sorting them.

Shari
Well the mm software I've used, so far, converts them into either MS Word, RTF, or LibreOffice outlines, which is convenient.

What I've been doing, is planning for a science fiction novel. And I've been finding the MM software "sorta" useful for the "Thinky" parts of world building, and character development. Some good ideas sometimes come out of nowhere, and sometimes by looking at the big picture and seeing the gaps and holes in your logic.

For plot creation, it's not working that well for me. The mind maps look and function pretty much like Warnier-Orr diagrams. And there, I think just an outline is probably the better medium to start with Maybe in OneNote rather than in MS Word since annotation could be about as free-form as in a mind map title.
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Old 09-06-2018, 03:45 AM   #8
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I found a short article about MM and stories that looks interesting.
Click

I made a small diagram based on the MM idea at the site. My efforts in scapple are depicted below.
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Last edited by crich70; 09-06-2018 at 04:00 AM.
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Old 09-06-2018, 12:19 PM   #9
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I use MindNode on OSX and, more recently, iOS. I only pull it out for serious brainstorming. I find it more useful in my professional life than in my personal writing.

MM approach is more free form than an outline mode in Word or other word processors. It encourages branching and chaining thoughts together in a visual way that you do not get with list formats.

Nothing wrong with plain old paper or whiteboard but MM software makes it easier to revise, expand, and print (or display) than just a scan file of your handwritten MM.
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Old 09-08-2018, 06:01 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shalym View Post
I'm curious as to why people prefer mind mapping over outlining? For me, I just have a very hard time mind mapping, where outlining flows easily.

An outline is also easier for me to use as a study tool--when I look at mind maps, they just seem like a jumble to me, and I have a hard time sorting them.

Shari
I do both

MMs are great for the initial explosion of ideas - I'm lucky in that plots come to me over the course of a few moments, almost fully formed; mind maps help them to emerge into the world by relating ideas etc.

Outlining, on the other hand, is something I use to put those thoughts into order and structure, to flesh out the plot exploded through mind mapping. This changes frequently as it grows more flesh.

Unfortunately, I love coming up with ideas and structuring them, even developing characters etc, but I HATE writing first drafts. If I get a first draft, I love the editing process.
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Old 09-10-2018, 06:19 AM   #11
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As far as outlining I made a document in Libre Office just the other day that may work. Couldn't upload a copy of it here as a document file so I had to export it as a PDF, but it may give you some ideas. I used the "table" option in the LO text file to make it.
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Old 09-10-2018, 07:30 PM   #12
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I sometimes think all these various "writer help" software applications only get in the way of writing and promote procrastination. I know when I monkey around with new writer software I'm hardly ever writing.
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Old 09-11-2018, 07:46 AM   #13
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Sometimes? The secret benefit of all this "writer help" software, blogs, books and courses is guilt reduction. We writers will always find ways to procrastinate, but normal methods of procrastination - things that have nothing to do with our craft - leave us feeling dejected and guilty. Enter "writer help" in all its forms. Now we can waste as much time as we want but still feel good about it because it all - seems to be - part of honing our skills, developing our craft and expanding our tool-set.

Those phrases may sound familiar to those of you who have been on management training courses. It's the same principle: guilt-free time wasting.
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Old 09-11-2018, 10:23 AM   #14
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Quote:
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Sometimes? The secret benefit of all this "writer help" software, blogs, books and courses is guilt reduction. We writers will always find ways to procrastinate, but normal methods of procrastination - things that have nothing to do with our craft - leave us feeling dejected and guilty. Enter "writer help" in all its forms. Now we can waste as much time as we want but still feel good about it because it all - seems to be - part of honing our skills, developing our craft and expanding our tool-set.

Those phrases may sound familiar to those of you who have been on management training courses. It's the same principle: guilt-free time wasting.
What a coincidence! Last night, as I was laboriously creating this complex "world building" template that my time might be better spent actually world building than template building. But I must admit, that half finished template is IMPRESSIVE!

That being said, I'm getting the hang of mind mapping, and I do find it useful for recording ideas and placing them into a rough set of relationships. I'm finding the notes section for each placed graphic icon to be the meat of the program, but the graphics are useful for 'seeing the big picture'.

Last edited by GlenBarrington; 09-11-2018 at 10:27 AM.
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Old 09-11-2018, 12:00 PM   #15
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Glen: You might be interested in some old software called Papel, which is a kind of mind map with text involved when you click on the icons. Years ago, I had lots of fun creating my own icons; this has just the right amount of difficulty and internet-crawling to keep you away from writing for hours.
http://papel.teiru.net/papel/index.html
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