February 16, 2022
Why mind mapping is the only way to overcome writer’s block
Lost for words? Whether it’s a business proposal, blog post, or university essay, most people will have to write something at one time or another, if not on a daily basis. So, we all know the frustration of staring at a blank page, particularly when you’ve got a deadline to meet.
Writer’s block is described as the lost ability to produce new work and the experience of a creative slowdown. But, why does it happen? Frequent causes of writer’s block include a lack of structure, stress, perfectionism and selective thinking. It’s important to remember that writer’s block exists only in your head and can be managed by the tools you use. Read on to discover the primary causes of writer’s block and why mind mapping is a great way to defeat them.
Of course, perfectionism can be a good thing – at the right time. But, with the constant temptation to revise work until you’re happy with every word, perfectionism stalls your ability to write and can sometimes prove frustrating enough to make us want to quit writing altogether. You’ll find yourself re-editing, rearranging and restructuring the same phrases and sentences over and over, losing the momentum you need to complete the first draft.
Rather than expecting to write a perfect first draft, take time to plan your writing beforehand. With mind mapping, anything goes. You’re not limited to entering only your best ideas, so there’s no possibility of getting writer’s block. By using keywords to trigger associations, get all your thoughts down, regardless of their immediate value. Then, develop your initial ideas further with child branches, making sure to not be scared to cover all possible ideas and varying perspectives. Mind mapping encourages you to consider all your options, and become more objective about your thoughts by providing a clear, visual overview.
Having used the expansive format of mind maps to eliminate prejudice against seemingly “less important” thoughts so that you fall into a creative flow, outline key branches with bright colours that highlight your best ideas that you want to write more about. Begin your first draft by using these ideas to help you structure each paragraph. Once your first draft is written, you can then call upon your inner perfectionist to help fine-tune your edit.
The sequential thinker
If you were to ask someone for advice on how to overcome writer’s block, they’d probably say things like ‘get up from your desk’, ‘have a walk around’, or ‘go and make a coffee’. And these things may work, for a sentence or two. That’s because by taking a break from writing, you’re giving your brain time to think in different directions and make new associations.
When you sit in front of a computer and start typing, you often continue on from the last sentence that you wrote. By thinking sequentially, you’re going to end up in writer’s block because your ideas are limited to this sequence, preventing you from thinking in alternative directions.
A visual thinking process like mind mapping helps you to avoid the shortcomings of sequential and linear thinking. Mind mapping stimulates generative thinking, a crucial element of the creative process. By sparking ideas and your vivid imagination through images and associations, mind mapping reflects the way the human brain thinks. When thinking about a problem or concept, did you know that the first 30% of your ideas tend to be the most obvious? Mind mapping allows you to go beyond the obvious, stretching your imagination to unearth truly unique and creative ideas. The more creative and well-developed your ideas become, the more these will fuel your writing and surpass the limits of writer’s block.
An example to get you started
Here at mind-map.com, we like to practise what we preach. Before writing this blog post, I created a mind map of my ideas and accumulated research regarding writer’s block, adding images to spark new thoughts. For instance, I created branches with the titles ‘Cause’ and ‘Solution’ and used child branches to build upon these. I highlighted my best ideas and used these to form paragraphs. With this clear structure and map of developed ideas, I was able to produce a continuous flow of writing. Creating a mind map before I started writing allowed me to break down my work into manageable chunks. So, when writer’s block inevitably hit and my momentum began to slow, I had my own visual guide to help me fill in the blanks and get back on track.
Have you ever used mind mapping to produce a wonderous piece of writing? Let us know in the comments below!