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How to write a book using mind maps: Part 2 – The strategy

This is the second post in the series How to write a book using mind maps. These posts feature the story of how Sean Mitton accomplished his ambitious goal of writing his first book, The Goal That United Canada.

You can find his other posts here:


Guest Blogger: Sean Mitton

Great… so I’ve decided to write a book, something I’ve never done before. How do I do this? Where do I even start?

The first thing I plan to do is create a mind map to gather my thoughts. One of the great things about mind mapping is that it helps you get started by generating ideas quickly, without trying to be perfect. The other thing that I like is that it helps you break down thoughts that could be complex and simplify them easy to manage piece of information.

So how did I go about planning my book? Let’s get started!

Using mind maps to create the book’s overview strategy

The first thing I did when creating my plan was to breakout the primary project categories.

These included:

  • Goals,
  • Story, book design and outline,
  • Story collection,
  • Budget,
  • Self-publishing,
  • Book promotion,
  • Project management. and
  • Identifying other people involved in the project.

For the sake of this blog post, I’ll minimize a couple of branches of the mind map outline included below, and will address them in more detail in an upcoming post. Specifically, the branches I’ll minimize this time around include Project Management, Book Design and Outline and Book Promotion.

I should also note that, during this process, I included many attachments, notes, and links to other mind maps that served as a great repository for everything in the project.

Now, I’ll share three concepts that I apply to most of the mind maps that I create.

Concept #1: The importance of branches (some random thoughts)

  • For the Goals branch, I thought it was important to think about more than just the financial outcome, meaning quantity of books sold. I believe it helps strengthen the motivation.
  • I chose Self-Publishing as it gave me the most flexibility. The print-on-demand model reduced my up-front costs by not having to buy in bulk.
  • The Budget branch helped keep awareness of my costs with very little outsourcing and a lot of help from my personal network.
  • I’ll go into more detail in future posts around Project Management, Story Collection, Book Outline and Book Promotion.
  • Half way though the project, a new branch was added under Book Promotion. An opportunity became available to launch the Book at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. More on that later…

Concept #2: “Begin with the end in mind” –  Stephen Covey

For the majority of activities that I prepare for, whether that’s a presentation, a meeting, an article or anything of importance, I first think about the end or what I want to accomplish. In this case, it was more than about how many books I could sell. I wanted to think about other potential benefits. I think we all need strong a ‘why” if we are going to invest in something of importance, especially if you are going to spend over a year to author a book.

The benefits for me were much greater than just the financial benefits. I thought about the new knowledge and skills acquired, the new relationships, experiences and stories I would gain. This journey was something that could be shared with my family and future generations, which I thought about a lot. There was also the thought of regret in future years if I didn’t pursue it.

My belief is that if you create enough mind maps, over time it promotes holistic thinking and thus the ability to ask better questions which in this case applied to my Goals branch. For this exercise, I used MindManager to gather all of my disconnected goals, and put them into one central location. This helped me gain an overview of all the reasons I was taking on this project, which provided the motivation I needed to get started.

Concept #3: The importance of working as a team

If you haven’t seen the movie Ocean’s Eleven, then you need to give it a watch. Aside from the entertainment value, one of the things that I take away from the movie, is that you need to have the right people for the right jobs.

For this book project, I thought of the skills I had and people I knew (or could source) who would help fill the project needs. Mind mapping helped me formulate my needs, and record who I could lean on for support.

The people I needed included a mentor, who was a sports publisher, a sports graphic designer, a PR expert, a self-publishing expert, an editor and web designer. I was fortunate to have most of these people in my network and I chose to outsource my website development to Upwork.

By mapping out each step of the book writing process, I was able to flag points in the journey when I would need some help. This allowed me to anticipate which connects I would need to reach out to in advance.

Concept #4: Mind maps continuously help to uncover new ideas and questions

Throughout the project, I continued to review my mind map, and ask questions if anything was missing. For me, the biggest question that I asked myself was how can I create the best experience for my readers? As my deadline date grew closer, the answer came to me thanks, you guess it, to my mind map.

I’ll share how using mind maps helped me find the answer later in my next posts.

Mind map complete, game on

I don’t think I could have felt confident in my plan if I had created my overview strategy in a Word document. The thinking is too linear, and constraining.

MindManager has helped shape my thinking over the past decade, which gave me the confidence I needed to tackle such a huge project. In the next post, I’ll dig deeper into my project management plan for the book, and how I leverage MindManager to drive the process.

If you’re thinking about writing a book, I highly recommend mapping it out with MindManager. If you haven’t gotten your hands on it yet, then you may be interested in a free 30-day trial.


About Sean Mitton

In the past 15 years, Sean Mitton has created over 700 mind maps as an Entrepreneur, Author, Speaker, Reporter, Web designer and Coach. He Founded the Canadian Expat Network, co-authored the book “The Goal That United Canada”, has been interviewed by over 30 media outlets and has interviewed notable athletes, entertainers, politicians and business leaders. He’s spoken at universities, community college conference, libraries and the Hockey Hall of Fame. In 2010, he organized the first Terry Fox Run for Cancer Research in North Carolina. Every step of the way, he’s created mind maps to keep organized, be more creative, strategic and simplify ideas. Throughout this process, he has found that by asking better questions through mind mapping, you can achieve better results!

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