How to Plan an Essay: Mind Mapping
Mind maps are very useful because they allow you to use both sides of your brain to organize your ideas or to plan your writing. Mind maps are also great tools for analysis of the content of your future essay. To create a mind map, you only need to understand the general idea of your essay and brainstorm on your topic. Here is a quick guide from College-Writers.com.
Generating a Mind Map
1. First, grab a sheet of paper, pen, and markers or colored pencils. Every color can have its meaning. For example, you can use red for the topics that need further research, green for supporting evidence, blue for your key points, and orange for counterarguments. However, you can also create a mind map without colored pencils or markers, using the same color for all of your elements.
2. Write the topic of your essay in the center of the page. You may start with a single keyword or write the entire thesis statement. For example, when writing about global warming, you can simply write “Global Warming,” or you can write “Global warming is caused by the emission of greenhouse gases.”
3. Write down your relevant associations. Just write any ideas that relate to your topic and draw a bubble around each one of them. Connect these bubbles to the main idea and to each other using lines or arrows and jot down brief explanations that illustrate the way these ideas are related.
4. If you’re stuck and you have no ideas, just draw empty bubbles. In each bubble, you can write relevant questions that you need to answer in the essay, such as “What,” “Why,” “Who,” etc. You can also keep these bubbles for counterarguments or supporting evidence.
5. Don’t forget that the main purpose of your mind map is to help you plan the essay. Therefore, there’s no point in wasting your time trying to draw perfect bubbles and connect them with perfectly straight lines. You should sketch quickly so that you won’t stop your flow of associations. Of course, you may include doodles that will help you remember some important points, but don’t try to make them perfect. Your mind map is just for you and nobody else.
6. You may also use online templates instead of creating a mind map from scratch. There are many programs that enable you to create mind maps from templates that already have a certain structure. For example, we recommend that you try such tools as Coggle, Mind42, or Bubble.us.
Organizing Your Mind Map
1. Think of how you will organize your ideas in the essay. Label the bubbles and assign them to different sections of your paper. If you need to write a certain number of paragraphs, you can assign a number that corresponds to a certain paragraph to each bubble. While organizing the elements of the essay, add some details. For instance, you can write down useful sources that will fit the context of each section.
2. If your mind map gets messy, redraw it to group different ideas into logical sections. You may want to draw more bubbles and fill them with more associations, thoughts, and supporting evidence. Once all your ideas are properly organized, the draft of your paper is ready.
3. Keep your mind map in front of you while writing. This way, you won’t forget any important details. You can also pre-write your essay by writing down the ideas from your mind map and grouping them into several lines. This way, you will create a paragraph structure.
Begin every paragraph with an introductory sentence that introduces the key idea of the paragraph. If you want to add some ideas that weren’t on the mind map, make sure that they fit. Besides, prepare to get rid of the unnecessary details. When designing the mind map, don’t try to include too many points in one paragraph.