Mind Map For Writing – A Mind Map iPad App Recommendation

Mind map for writing

This tutorial is part one of a two-part series on the writing process, and we’re starting off by looking at the benefits of the mind map for writing.

If you’re not familiar with the concept of a mind map, here it is in a nutshell: it’s a visual representation of ideas and words arranged around a central concept.

In the example to the right, I’ve got a mind map on how to start an online business when you’re brand new. I’ve identified several main topics, with sub categories and more specific examples underneath each section.

The process of mind mapping is pretty simple: you let your mind come up with new words that relate to your main topic, and you add these to branches where you see connections. These tend to spark new ideas, and you just keep adding new branches and sub-branches until you feel like you’ve covered everything you want to say about the topic.

You can then use your mind map as the basis for a longer piece of writing.

Why Mind Map For Writing?

For really short pieces of writing, you might not need to mind map because you can just jot your ideas down coherently. The beauty of mind mapping comes in when you’re still exploring your topic and when you want to add some structure to a longer piece of writing.

I’ve also used mind mapping when creating the structure of my upcoming book, for sequencing out a series of follow up emails, and even for designing my Website Checkup Tool.

The beauty of mind mapping is that you can see everything at a glance, and each word can spark off a new set of ideas that you might not have come to if you were working in a more linear fashion.

Recommended Mind Map iPad App

Mind map for writing

There are several ways to create a mind map for writing. The easiest is with a sheet of paper and a pencil. I have created many a mind map that way, and it’s the best way to really get your ideas out… without getting interrupted by other applications that are running on your computer.

My favorite way to mind map though is using an iPad. Why use the iPad instead of your computer? For me, the multitasking nature of a desktop or laptop computer can be too distracting.

I’ve found that my best ideas come when I’m focused on my mind map, and because the iPad only lets you run one app at a time… you’re essentially forced to be creative.

There are tons of great desktop mind map applications, and I’ll let you search them out since I personally prefer the iPad version.

So what is the app that I recommend for the iPad? It’s called iThoughtsHD. It’s not a free app, but if you’ve gotten the mind map bug, it’s well worth it.

Exporting Your Mind Map For Writing

With iThoughtsHD you can export your mind maps as PDFs that you can share with your team members, or keep on file for planning purposes. You can also export your mind maps into other formats, which is what we’ll be talking about in the next tutorial.

The great thing about this app is that you can also integrate it with your Dropbox, so you don’t need to plug your iPad in each time you create a new mind map. Your desktop will automatically sync up and download any new maps that you create.

It’s Time To Get Creative & Mind Map

Whether you’re already a mind map junkie like me or not, give mind mapping a try this week. Use a pen and paper if that’s what calls you, check out the iThoughtsHD app, or research a desktop program.

In the next tutorial in this series, I’ll show you exactly how to turn your mind map into a document for writing that will knock your socks off.


  1. Aromaticon Eli Żyrek on July 12, 2012 at 9:18 am

    Nathalie, you rock! I really love it and looking forward to the second part.

  2. Jonathan Brown on July 17, 2012 at 9:55 am

    Nathalie knows how to get it done folks!

  3. Jenna Dalton on July 27, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    Thanks, Nathalie! This is exactly what I needed. No more wasted paper (yeah for the trees!) and an easier way to organize my thoughts and ensure I know where they are documented. :)

    • Nathalie Lussier on November 16, 2013 at 9:13 pm

      Yes Jenna, I totally agree – this process rocks. :)

  4. Nikki Assalone on September 4, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    I grabbed this app after first seeing your post and since then, I have to say, this is the most amazing brain dump format I've ever worked wtih… I have my whole business and website and tons of ideas mapped out on here and every time I use it I feel lighter, more focused and as if I've freed up space in my head that had been keeping me stuck. Love it, thanks.

    • Nathalie Lussier on November 16, 2013 at 9:13 pm

      Woohoo Nikki! This makes me very happy. :)

  5. Steve Shipley on November 16, 2013 at 1:51 am

    I read this post four months ago found it interesting, but as a power Scrivener user, I felt it was just as easy to set up Folders and Files appropriately or use the Outline View to do the same thing. However, I purhcased iThoughtsHD anyway as I thought some basic mind mapping might help me clarify a collage of thoughts running around in my brain.

    iThoughtsHD is a magnificent app and I quickly got into outlining book structures, exporting to Dropbox as OPML and then loading into Scrivener. It really works well and allows me to focus / concentrate on structure using my iPad and then back to Scrivener for the actual writing.

    Most importantly, as well as this worked, it triggered the thought about how to integrate everything else I use around Scrivener more seamlessly and I really have optimized an E2E conceptualization, writing/editing, completing (photos, footnoting, etc.) and publishing workflow. Thanks so much for jump starting my brain to do that!

    • Nathalie Lussier on November 16, 2013 at 9:13 pm

      Happy to hear that Steve and thank you for coming back to share how you implemented and came up with other cool ideas to integrate with Scrivener!