Essay writing is very complicated and it was a task that I found difficult until I discovered mind mapping. I struggled to write coherently, organise my work and to know which topics were relevant to my set question. My objective when writing essays was to carry out and complete the essays as efficiently as possible whilst getting the highest  grade available. We can use mind maps to assist writing essays by dividing the essay writing process into four stages. Briefly these are to use one mind map to define the question, and a second to organise the research, design the essay structure and write the essay itself.


1. Define the question or topic of the essay

Often the questions set for the essays may not be self explanatory. Put the question at the centre of the mind map and think of related topics which we write around the edges with lines drawn away from the centre. Try to do this as quickly as possible and put down everything that comes to you onto the mind map. Once you have constructed the mind map you may find that some of the topics are not relevant enough to be included in the essay, so I would recommend colour coding or marking the relevant ones whilst also showing which ones are not relevant. Keep the irrelevant ones visible as they will act as a guide to keep you on track and stop you writing text which will not answer the question and assist you in getting higher marks.


2.  Organise the research

Once you have organised the topics that will make up your essay begin research on each topic. I recommend creating a new mind and for each topic write down what you have found using your research, either notes or links to web pages. I tend to use quick summaries, sometimes with important quotes with links to the full text I researched.


3. Plan the essay itself

When this is complete you should look to see if any topics are too similar and if so combine them. Then try to organise the structure by numbering  them (or moving them into order in your mind mapping software), so that they are in a logical order which will provide the basic structure of the essay. Try to arrange the topics so that they lead on from each other. Also if information is required to understand the subject matter in one section, the relevant information is supplied to the reader before they read that section of text.


4. Write it

This should now be the easy part. Starting with the first topic you planned in your second mind map, write out your essay. Refer to your first mind map to make sure you do not stray into writing about irrelevant things.  Use the second mind map to help generate the conclusion by using it as a checklist to ensure that you have included all the main points.


Hopefully by now you should have you essay written, and probably just requiring a read through to make sure there are no grammatical or spelling errors. You might think that this process is long winded but I think that by spending time planning and researching, you save a lot of time overall. With practice you can finish the first mind map in ten minutes, and the second around one hour per thousand words.