On Roses, Mind Mapping & Miscellany…

I hate rain, but my roses are loving the super-wet spring. Even roses I thought were dead made a strong comeback this year, much to my delight. Who doesn’t love the sight of a gorgeous rose blooming in the garden? Simply magical, really.

It’s funny how often I have to be completely and utterly frustrated before I find the right solution to a problem. Even if I *know* what the solution is, it takes that sense of urgency in my brain to make me actually start using something that normally makes my life easier in some way. I’m not sure why that is, but when I finally reach that breaking point, it generally results in something really cool. 

Enter my discovery of an ages-old tool for organizing thoughts & brainstorming ideas: mind-mapping. 

I’ve been struggling with the latest Fantasy Ranch story. I’m a “pantser”, which means when I start writing, I don’t have a plan, or an outline, or much of anything aside from a couple of characters and a setting. I do generally have a vague idea of what might happen, but nothing concrete. Normally, everything works out as I’m writing, and the things that don’t are minor and easily changed in revisions. 

Not so with this particular draft (and I have a couple others challenging me at the moment too). When I realized that I’ll have to do major revisions this time just to make the story work, I knew I needed to do something drastic to get a hold of the story. 

Normally I’m not a very visually driven person…when there are words to be had, I’d rather read than look at pictures (with the exception of artwork – I love art in all forms). But a story, even though it feels linear, rarely actually is. There are always at least two perspectives, so at least two stories running in parallel. That makes a more visual approach to organizing it logical. I started playing with some mind-mapping tools, and it wasn’t long before I finally understood where the story was going, and more importantly, why, which gives me what I need to figure out what revisions I have to make. 

It’s pretty awesome, really. 

I’ve decided to start mapping every story as I write it, to help me keep track of little details like character names & traits, but also bigger plot details as they develop. I’m hoping that doing so will keep me from issues like the one I’ve had with THHG, letting me see a few steps ahead, and when I can’t, giving me the tools to figure out “what happens next”. 

I’m using SimpleMind on my laptop – I doubt I’ll use the android app, because it requires a network connection to work and I need to be able to access my maps offline. Instead, I’ll export from SimpleMind to pdf, and with my tablet I can make notes directly on the pdf to add to the map after I get home if need be. 

If I want to map by hand, I have MindBoard for my tablet – which works with my stylus (will also work with your finger) to make handwritten maps…and I’ve found that pretty useful & fun at times. 

Other than that, I spent the last week noodling some cover art ideas, weeding, planning not to have a party, writing, beta reading, crocheting, and working, of course. A pretty normal week, really. Which is good. I like normal. 

This week, I need to put a few things into high gear. I have stories nearly done, stories that need to be done, and a host of other things to work on that I’d really like to have off my plate. Here’s the list: 

– Four serial scenes (one of which should finish a story)
– Two cover art mock-ups
– Finish a beta read I’m in the middle of
– Catch up on accounting
– Walk or weed 3x this week
– Keep working on the tank top I started crocheting
– Teach myself how to knit
– 1 load of laundry daily (catching up)

I think that’s about all my list can handle this week…might even be pushing it, but we’ll see. Aim high, and see what happens, I say…

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2 comments on “On Roses, Mind Mapping & Miscellany…

  1. Dolly Garland

    I love reading about your organising plans 🙂 Always put me in the organising frame of mind.

    Mind-maps for the most part have never worked for me. I guess I’m a more linear kind of person, and so it just feels too disorderly. But still, I have used it, and do use it – and sometimes it yields positive results. But I do it by hand.

    Might give it another go for fiction.

  2. Jamie D.

    I’m normally the same way, Dolly. But when I realized that stories actually aren’t linear, or rather, they are, but many parallel POV’s at the same time, that really made mind-mapping more logical to me. I’ll post some examples on the drafting blog toward the end of the week…you might find it interesting. 🙂