Why Creativity Requires Mindmaps, Not Lists!

We all have our preferred way of coming up with new ideas and sparking creativity. One of the more popular ways is to write things down in lists.

I don’t know about you but I’m in my most creative mindset and trying to write things down in this way, I start off well but then I get ‘goldfish brain’. My mind wanders and goes off in several directions. I’ll think of something but then I’ll forget. By the end of the process, I don’t end up with the comprehensive list of thoughts I had in my head initially. In fact, quite often I end up with a few lines written on paper. What an anti-climax right?

So why is that?

Scientific research shows that it’s because our brains don’t work in a linear fashion. Your brain is far more complex than that. You start off with a core thought but then it stems off in multiple directions.

It’s almost like a tree. Each pathway formed represents a branch and from there, other smaller branches continue to form before leaves start to grow.

There’s no limit to the number of branches you have. They can continue to grow in an infinite number of ways as long as you continue to nurture them correctly.

This is a lot like out brains. We start off by planting that seed of creativity and as we create the optimum conditions for growth, that idea will continue to grow and grow and grow. You are left will a beautiful tree firmly planted in the ground breathing life out into the world.

So if this is how our brains work, how do we create these conditions for growth?

There are lots of ways but in the context of this discussion, one way is to replicate the way your mind processes ideas.

Instead of writing things down in a very structured, restrictive way by creating lists, opt for the more aligned process of mind-mapping.

Mind-mapping mirrors the exact process that happens in our brains.

How do we mind map?

Start with your core concept then beginning drawing out those big ideas around that concept as branches. As your brain starts to go into more detail, break out into smaller branches asking questions of each idea along the way.

When we ask questions that new neural pathways start to form and we begin to think on a deeper level exploring new thoughts, ideas and solutions. Ideas will bridge over and cross-connect.

The idea is that as you start to break down your ideas in this way, you’ll be able to see the huge amount of detail you’ve written down. This is because both sides of your brain are working at the same time. You’ll start to see deep work in action; far more than if you had tried to write it down in paragraph or list format.

It all comes down to creating and enabling the flow of ideas rather than putting these restrictive blocks up in your mind and trying to force yourself into linear thinking.

Now the cool thing about mindmapping in this way is that once you have everything written down, you can then repurpose the data in a number of different ways.

For example, if this is an idea around content marketing, there are loads of ways you can use those thoughts. You can write blogs, social media posts, create ebooks or courses. You can design workshops or put together speaking topics. You are able to reuse and repurpose the information in a way that constantly ties back to the core concept and value proposition yet make it unique by approaching it from a different angle or branch.

Give it a go?

If you haven’t tried mind-mapping for idea generation yet, give it a go and see how you get on.

One thing I will mention is that it’s important to do this on good old fashion pen and paper as opposed to mobile or computer apps. Technology is great but it’s also a distraction and again research shows kinesthetic learning is optimum in terms of reiterating and implementing those ideas.

There we have it. If you have any thoughts or ideas on the creative process of use of mind maps, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Share them in the comments below.

Much love from my heart to yours.

Chloē xx


Buzan, T. (2004)  Mind Maps at Work. New Yoke: Plume,

Gross, R. (2015) Psychology: The Science of Mind and Behaviour. London: Hodder Education