So it seems as if my last post on using Scrivener with Mind Maps for structured writing projects may have been confusing. Some people, who shall not be named (Marcus Sheridan), pointed out that the visual I included at the end of the post made this look intimidating. Since I really believe this is an easy and helpful technique (and I’m always game to disparage Marcus), a follow-up post seemed like the logical way to correct the confusion (hopefully).
Show Don’t Tell
Even though a picture is supposedly worth a thousand words, this one completely detracted from what I was trying to share. It makes the process look cumbersome rather than quick, easy and convenient. With that in mind, I wanted to create the a screencast showing just how easy it can be.
Quickly “See” Your Ideas
The main reason I love this process… I never have to see a blank page. They scare the hell out of me and often lead to long-winded tangents. On the other hand, mind maps need starting point, enable you think through your ideas and keep you from wandering in unnecessary directions. They give you tangible elements that allow you to play with your ideas. They make it easy to reorder everything from the smallest thought to an entire section before you’ve ever written a sentence.
Flesh Your Ideas Out
Basic structure isn’t all that hard. Figuring out the most effective way to get your point across, now that can be a challenge. I know that many turn to outlines for this, but they don’t play well with me. So I would forego them, start with an idea, write and eventually fix my work in the editing process. The writing got done, but there was a tremendous amount of wasted time and worse yet, wasted writing. It wasn’t until I started with mind maps that I was finally able to create an outline that was not only simple, but useful.
Send It To Scrivener
Once you like what you see, the fun part begins. It’s a simple three-step process:
- Export your mind map as an OPML file.
- Open a blank Scrivener file or create a new folder inside an existing document
- Import your OPML file.
This takes your mind map and imports it as a functional outline. Essentially each section or node of your original mind map becomes an individual document that you can write in (another post for another day, less I want to evoke the ire of Marcus “The Sales Lion” Sheridan once more). From there, all that’s left to do is the writing (I know, easier said than done…).
Sorry if the picture in my last post made this all seem a little crazy, but the process is so easy. While I wouldn’t suggest it for short posts or freeform prose, it has changed the way I write longer, more structured work. In fact, this post took about half the time it normally would, leaving me plenty of time to create the video and to disparage Marcus some more here at the end! Check out the video, go tell Marcus why he is wrong (and clearly a terrible person to boot) and let me know if you ever feel crazy enough to give this a shot.
Disclaimer: Marcus is a really, really great guy who totally had a point. But you didn’t hear that from me.