Article Writing – Mind Mapping As An Outline Tool

I have been having a lot of fun with View Your Mind, an open source mind mapping tool. These maps are nothing more than a large doodle with ideas radiating out from a central node. More nodes are generated from each created node. It looks like a giant spider web. The nodes can be dragged and dropped any where on the screen. If the central node is dragged to the top and all the other nodes or lined up down the right side, the diagram looks suspiciously like the standard outline that we have been told to use by countless writing teachers.
Mind mapping has always seemed like a fun, intuitive tool more like play than work. Could it be used for something as logical and practical as an article outline. Two features that I had not tried before were the notepad and text export. Using the map I had created for an earlier article and hitting ctrl-e to I brought up the notepad to add text for one item. I only did it for one item in this test as I just wanted to see if it would appear in the exported text file. I hit Map-Export-Text and saved the text file.
Here is the text file with my comments below:
Budget Day in Lahaina
1. Kamehameha Iki Park
* race finish line
* surfing classes
2. Court House
3. Banyan Tree
* history
* size
* text notes
A good place to start is the banyan tree. Not a banyan tree, but THE banyan tree in the park between Front Street and Lahaina’s marina. The banyan tree, planted in 1873 when it was only eight feet tall, now covers two thirds of an acre with a diameter of 200 feet. There are many benches available so we will use one of these to sit and plan our trip. There is usually plenty of room except on some weekends when it is the site of an arts and crafts exhibition/marketplace.
4. Pioneer Inn
* history
* music
5. historical tour
* brochure
* sites
6. Introduction
Nice outline and the text is right where it should be. I was a little bothered by the Introduction being listed last and thought maybe this is because it was the last item I entered. The explanation was simpler and the solution an easy one. My map had been drawn with all items radiating out in a circle. When all nodes were dragged and dropped to the right side and arranged in the desired order, the next text export gave me an excellent outline. My old English teachers would be proud of me.
If you are stuck in a box looking at the same structured outline, switch to mind mapping. Use all those colors, curving lines, and happy faces to create a very reasonable article.

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