to find Patti Singleton these days.


A Million Ways to Mind Map; Channeling Gwen

Like many of us of writers, I have issues with focus. That is, I have writing ideas ticking in my brain constantly. In this current writeaholic mode, I even dream new blogs, articles, poems and stories. Most of the time I stumble right out of bed, pee, pour coffee and while it’s heating, I start up the computer.  I hit the writing at the pace of a runner at full speed.

As I wrote about before, I’m starting Camp NaNoWriMo in July, yet my memoir is still a file of almost 200k words, piles of writing not yet typed, and reams of papers from Paul’s hospital stays. Which direction do I head for? I know this memoir project will be a series, but where to start? When I think back to the beginnings of the memoir idea, I get two strong thoughts: The encouragement to write my story from many friends, family, writing instructors, and strangers. And Paul telling me that he wanted me to write about our year of fighting his leukemia, to help the many others who would (unfortunately) follow our path. He even promised to help from wherever he was; yes, this was a death-bed request. (Of course, I never fixed the chip in my windshield, and that too, was a death-bed request.)

Those thoughts (not the windshield ones) gave me a focus, but now what? Then it hit me square on and I began to channel one of my best friends. Gwen is a writing dynamo;  she is a dynamo in all sorts of ways, but her mind map talent was needed here.  This is the result:

Hand Written Memoir Mind Map

Hand Written Memoir Mind Map

Finally! Thank you, Gwen! I felt ready to actually write. The center was the memoir focus, the next circle is each chapter’s focus, and the outer circles will be the content of the chapters. It is amazing how fast things happen during and after the mind mapping process. I also want to give you techies a way to do the same thing online. Instead of rolling out a  list of links, I’m going to advise you to Google “mind maps” like I did, which will give you millions of mind map resources. Aren’t they pretty?

Screen Shot of Google Mind Maps

Screen Shot of Google Mind Maps

I resisted clicking on even one of those pretty things, because now I had a focus. Away I go. Stay tuned for the next step in this crazy process…

P.S. I do realize that someone could copy and steal my mind map and write their own book, but I promise that the universe will get them if they do. Besides, the hard part is ahead and if they are the type of person to steal my mind map, they aren’t likely to do the hard part.



How do you get your focus on a project? I’d love to know how others handle it, so please let me know in a comment.