Essay writing is all about profoundly elaborating your thoughts and ideas about a given topic. Ask anyone who’s graduated, and they’ll tell you writing and editing an essay is one helluva task! We’ve already covered the entire process of how to carry out effective essay research in our previous blog post. This article is the second in our essay writing series. We recommend that you read the previous article to understand the further steps we explain here. 

Now that you know what essay research and note-taking entail, in this article we explain how you put it all together with the help of a brilliant tool called Mind Mapping. Let’s get straight to it! 


What is Mind Mapping? 

A mind map is a pictorial way to represent ideas and concepts. It is a visual thinking technique that helps organize information in a way that allows you to analyze, comprehend, summarize, and recollect new ideas more effectively

As opposed to traditional note taking or linear text that you’ve been taught or have gotten used to, mind mapping structures information in a way that resembles how our brains actually work. Since it’s an activity that is both analytical and artistic, you can bypass the blockages and overwhelm caused by overt analytical thinking. It allows you to see more than one thought at a glance, and in doing so it helps clarify your thinking. It enables you to recognize how ideas are interrelated or remotely related. 


The first step for Essay Planning

A common word of advice given to you along with your writing assignment is to create an essay plan. But do you know where to start? From what we’ve learned so far about the concept, you can tell that a piece of a well drawn out mind map on a paper can accommodate your entire essay plan. Mind mapping will help you generate ideas more quickly, and the radial structure gives you a glimpse of the interlinked topics, main paragraphs and overall structure of the essay. 

Mind mapping for essays

Minds Maps will help you produce a realistic plan for your essay, and organize your research. It also helps you create a logical structure for the introduction, main sections, and the conclusion. A significant part of planning an essay is creating an outline. So let’s take a look at how to create a neat one by using mind maps.


Creating better outlines  

Mind mapping lets you plan and outline your essay and makes the writing process a lot easier. It also allows you to work through your collected resources more efficiently and helps you connect the dots more efficiently.

Here’s how you can create a mind map to outline your essay: 

  1. Draw a circle in the middle of the paper and write down the main subject in that circle. 
  2. Add more circles away from the center circle, and link these sub-circles to the main circle. Make these sub-circles about the various findings of the topic you collected in your research. Don’t think too much about how to arrange the points—just let your ideas spill out naturally. 
  3. Let more circles branch out from these sub-circles to mark original ideas and any elaborations you want to make. Add or delete circles at any level as you narrow your focus. 
  4. Highlight each branch and its resulting topic with a separate colour so it becomes easy for you to identify which topic to glance at while you’re writing. 
  5. Once your mind map is ready, analyze it. You’ll see an outline taking shape in your mind. All that’s left to do now is put it down on paper.  

This is how you generally create mind maps for everything else too. Just place your central idea or theme that you want to elaborate on and let your mind unfold visually. Apart from planning an essay and creating an essay outline, mind maps can also be used for taking notes, studying for exams, creative inspiration, problem-solving, academic editing and proofreading, making presentations, and brainstorming. 

Its applications are far too many. Apply them and you’ll realize how it fits into planning for every aspect of life. There is plenty of online application and software to help you create masterful mind maps. Our top recommendations are MindMeister, Xmind, Popplet, and Freemind.


Tips for creating smarter mind maps:

  • Always place the central theme/essay topic in the center of your page. It will also be easier to draw the mind map if you place the page in landscape orientation (horizontal layout).
  • Use lines, arrows, speech bubbles, branches and different colours as ways of showing the connection between the subject and your ideas which stem from the research. The relationships are important to form essay paragraphs.
  • You don’t have to create an artistic masterpiece. Just quickly draw one out without any pauses or editing. It’s important in the early stages of mind mapping to consider every possibility, even those you may not use.
  • Colouring is an important element of mind mapping. Choose different colours to symbolize different things. This helps to form mental associations of related things. 
  • Leave out some space on your page. The reason is that you can continue to add to your diagram as and when you get ideas at any point in later stages.

That’s all we have for you on mind mapping and how to use it for writing better college essays. We hope you find it useful while working on your future writing assignments. In the next and final article of this series, we introduce you to the real deal: How to write and revise an essay. 

Happy writing and keep coming back for more!