Creative Thinking

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• Aims of creative Mind Mapping

• The Mind Map as a creative thinking mechanism

• The stages of the creative thinking process

• Mind Mapping to gain new paradigms

• Benefits of creative thinking Mind Maps

• Onword foreword

In this chapter the focus is on creative thinking using Mind Maps. You will discover why Mind Maps are so startlingly effective in this area, and how you can use them to stretch and expand your own creative thinking and brainstorming abilities, thus gaining major new insights.

aims of creative mind mapping

Creative thinking or brainstorming Mind Maps have a great many objectives. The major ones are:

1 To explore all the creative possibilities of a given subject.

2 To clear the mind of previous assumptions about the subject, thus providing space for new creative thought.

<3 To generate ideas that result in specific action being taken, or physical reality being created or changed.

To encourage more consistent creative thinking.

3 To create new conceptual frameworks within which previous ideas can be reorganised.

To capture and develop 'flashes' of insight when they occur. To plan creatively.

the mind map as a creative thinking mechanism

The Mind Map is ideally suited to creative thinking because it utilises all the skills commonly associated with creativity, especially imagination, association of ideas and flexibility.

f In psychological literature, especially in the testing manuals on creative thinking by E. Paul Torrance, flexibility has been identified as a vital element in creative thinking. Other important factors include the ability to:

• Associate new and unique ideas with pre-existing ones.

• Use different colours in creative thinking.

• Use different shapes in creative thinking.

• Combine unusual elements.

• Magnify and use dimension.

• Adjust conceptual position.

• Rearrange and link pre-existing concepts.

• Reverse pre-existing concepts.

• Respond to an aesthetically appealing object.

• Respond to an emotionally appealing object.

• Respond to an object which appeals to the senses of sight, touch, hearing, smell and taste.

• Use interchangeable shapes and codes.

Natural Architecture Plate 18

It can be seen from looking at the Mind Map laws and general theory that the Mind Map is in fact a sophisticated and elegant external manifestation of all of these defined categories: it is an external manifestation of the complete creative thinking process.

Natural Architecture Plate 18

(My own researches have unearthed a striking similarity between the major factors in creative thinking, and the major factors in the history of the development of mnemonic techniques. For discussion see p 148, chapter 15.)

The nearly identical nature of the creative thinking and mnemonic principles confirms the Mind Map as the essential and natural manifestation and tool for these forms of thought. It also lays the foundation for the claim that, in opposition to the bulk of literature on creativity and memory, the two processes, rather than being separate, distinct, and to many theoreticians opposites, are in fact mirror images of the same process.

The popular myth that the creative genius is absent-minded and forgetful fails to take note of the fact that the particular geniuses in question are only forgetful of those things which psychologists consider it important for them to remember. If attention were focused on their powers of memory in relation to the subject of their creative thoughts, we would find memories as vast as those of any of the great mnemonists.

the stages of the creative thinking process

Applying the creative thinking Mind Mapping technique correctly can enable individual Mind Mappers to produce twice as many creative ideas as a traditional large brainstorming group in the same period of time.

These are the five stages in the creative thinking Mind Mapping process.

1 The quick-fire Mind Map burst

Begin by drawing a stimulating central image. (For example, if you were trying to think of new possibilities in flight technology, you might draw a Concordelike pair of wings.) Your image should be placed in the centre of a large blank page, and from it should radiate every idea that comes into your mind when you think of that subject.

For no more than 20 minutes you should let the ideas flow as fast as possible. Having to work at speed unchains your brain from its habitual thinking patterns, and encourages new and often apparently absurd ideas. These apparently absurd ideas should always be left in, because they contain the keys to new perspectives and the breaking of old and restrictive habits. To quote the philosopher Rudolf Flesch:

'Creative thinking may mean simply the realisation that there is no particular virtue in doing things the way they have always been done.'

tmay also be useful for you to bear in mind Ezra Pound's famous dictum:

'Genius... is the capacity to see ten things where the ordinary man sees one, and where the man of talent sees two or three, plus the ability to register that multiple perception in the material of his art'

le reason for the page being as large as possible is to be found in Buzan's ecept: 'a Mind Map will expand to fill the space available'. In creative ting, you need as much space as possible in order to entice your brain to pour out more and more ideas.

■ First reconstruction and revision lave a short break, allowing your brain to rest and begin to integrate the ideas enerated so far. You then need to make a new Mind Map, in which you ientify the major branches or Basic Ordering Ideas, combining, categorising, milding up hierarchies, finding new associations, and reconsidering in the context of the whole Mind Map any ideas that initially appeared 'stupid' or absurd'. As we have seen, the less conventional an idea, the better it often urns out to be.

During this first reconstruction stage, you may notice similar or even identical concepts appearing on the outer boundaries of your Mind Map. These should not be dismissed as unnecessary repetitions. They are fundamentally 'different' in that they are attaching themselves to different branches radiating from the central image. These peripheral repetitions reflect the underlying importance of ideas which are buried deep within your store of knowledge but which ictually influence every aspect of your thinking.

To give such concepts their appropriate mental and visual weight, you should underline them on their second appearance; outline them with a geometric lhape on their third appearance; and, if they recur a fourth time, box them in hree-dimensional shapes.

Linking these related three-dimensional areas on your Mind Map, and dimensionalising the link, can literally create a new mental framework, leading to the flash of insight that occurs when old facts are seen from a new perspective.

VERLEAF: Mind Map by Lorraine Gill on the nature of creativity and the perspective of the artist (seepage 161).

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Such a shift represents a massive and instantaneous reorganisation of entire structures of thought.

In a sense, this type of Mind Map may appear to be 'breaking the rules', in that the central image and major branches no longer have central importance.

However, far from breaking the rules, such a Mind Map is using them to the full, particularly those of emphasis and imagery. A new idea discovered and repeated on the boundaries of thought may become the new centre. Following your brain's search-and-find workings, the Mind Map explores the furthest reaches of your current thought in search of a new centre to replace the old, And in due course this new centre will itself be replaced by a new and even more advanced concept.

The Mind Map therefore aids and reflects intellectual exploration and growth.


As we saw in Chapter 12 (page 127), sudden creative realisations often come at times when the brain is in a relaxed, peaceful and solitary condition - perhaps when walking, running, sleeping or daydreaming. This is because such states of mind allow the Radiant Thinking process to spread into the farthest reaches of the parabrain, thus increasing the probability of new mental breakthroughs.

The great creative thinkers have used this method throughout history. Einstein instructed his students to include incubation as a necessary part of all their cogitations; and Kekule, the discoverer of the benzene ring, scheduled incubation/day dreaming periods into his daily work programme.

^T Second reconstruction and revision

After incubation your brain will have a fresh perspective on your first and second Mind Maps, and you will find it useful to do another quick-fire Mind Map burst to consolidate the results of this integration.

During this reconstruction stage you need to consider all the information gathered and integrated in stages 1, 2 and 3 in order to make a comprehensive Mind Map.

The Mind Map on page 162 by Norma Sweeney was the result of intense incubation and a number of thought-revisions. It represents the culmination of ideas on the introduction of Brain Clubs to the world.

The final stage h this stage you need to search for the solution, decision or realisation which as your original creative thinking goal. This often involves linking disparate ¡lements in your final Mind Map, leading to major new insights and break-roughs.

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