I’m a big fan of dumping my ideas onto a piece of paper when I’m writing an essay. It helps me to keep my ideas organized and it also helps me from veering off track.
However, it’s a balance because you also want to leave room to meander and discover new ideas as you write.
I wouldn’t always do this, especially with shorter essays. But right now I’m working on a longer essay that has three distinct threads. In order to keep them all straight, I made three columns on a piece of paper, with each thread as the heading. I jotted down everything that I knew I wanted to address for each thread.
I’m still in the draft stage, so I’m using the mind map to guide my writing. But I also find myself writing things that I hadn’t included in the mind map, so I’m happy to still have the “discovery” feel.
If you have an essay you want to write, or if you’ve started one but are kind of struggling, give this mapping a try. Let me know how it goes!