Pre-writing Technique #1: Idea Mapping, aka Clustering

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Pre-writing Technique #1: Idea Mapping, aka Clustering by Mind Map: Pre-writing Technique #1: Idea Mapping, aka Clustering

1. Why should I use this technique?

1.1. Mapping is great for visual thinkers.

1.2. You can create an image of your ideas.

1.3. The technique is non-linear.

1.3.1. You can easily add new ideas in anywhere.

1.4. It's fun!

2. How do I use this technique?

2.1. 1) As a way to generate ideas, like brainstorming

2.1.1. Write your main idea in the center of the page. Circle it.

2.1.2. Now, draw a line from the center.

2.1.3. Write down what your topic makes you think of. What do you associate with your topic? Circle that idea.

2.1.4. Draw another line. What does your second idea make you think of? Connect the ideas with a line?

2.1.5. Draw another line. You choose where. You can go back to the center and continue working with the main topic,or you can work with any idea you have written down. What other idea do you associate with your topic? Continue connecting your ideas together. Used in this way, the technique is like free association. Don't discount ideas at this point. Write down everything you can think of, since you don't know yet what ideas will be useful and what will not be useful in writing your paper or project. Even silly ideas may help you get past writers block and find inspiration.

2.2. 2) If you have already generated ideas, you can use a map to help organize them.

2.2.1. Write your main idea in center of the page--your thesis question or thesis statement. Next, write one main idea that will support your thesis. Connect it to the center topic with a line. Circle it. Write down a detail that might be helpful in explaining your first main idea. Circle it and connect it with a line (like this). Include examples that will explain your point. Consider adding quotations from reliable sources to give your work "authority." Write your next main supporting idea. Continue connecting ideas that support your main idea (or thesis) to the center circle.

3. I completed a map; what's next?

3.1. If you used the map to generate ideas, highlight those that may be useful.

3.2. Place your most useful idea in the center of a new map.

3.3. Use your map to create an outline for your project.

3.3.1. Turn the idea in the center into your thesis.

3.3.2. The ideas directly linked to the center, may work as the focus of your paragraphs.

3.3.3. The third level and subsequent level of ideas can be used to develop your paragraphs.

4. What tools can help me map

4.1. Use an online program like Mindmeister:, which I used to create this map.

4.2. Write on paper.

5. Where can I get help in using this technique?

5.1. From the handout posted in Google Classroom

5.2. From the ASC. Writing tutors love to help with mapping.

5.3. From Ms. Thompson during academic time

5.4. From this YouTube video made by UNC's Writing Center: Pre-Writing

6. I didn't find Idea Mapping useful, and I'm stuck for ideas. HELP!

6.1. Try focused freewriting.

6.2. Or engage in discussion with a classmate.

6.3. Write an outline

6.4. Brainstorm a list of ideas instead of a map.

6.5. Take a break. Then try a new idea generating technique.

6.6. Go to the ASC.

6.7. Go to Academic Time

6.8. Talk the issue through with a roommate, friend, or family member.