So you have a story you want to tell, whether verbally or in written form. Likely there will be several points of interest you want to highlight. Organizationally, multiple waypoints may take on the form of multiple chapters. Psychologically, the characters and events in your story may also be various waypoints. For example, say you are writing an autobiography. Every person that stepped in and out of your life can be a waypoint to visit in that story. Likewise, every memorable event, big and small, can be waypoints you want to recount. But merely saying, “I did this, and then I did that, and then…” would bore your audience to sleep. The human experience includes emotions, colors, surroundings, lessons learned and so much more.
Once you identify your waypoints, I recommend using sticky notes and a large, wall that will allow you to examine not only the waypoints, but everything related to it--how you felt about it, what you experienced, who you experienced it with, what you gained or lost in the experience.
What if you are tasked to create some term paper? (Yes, I know, boooooring! But it doesn't have to be that way.) Here is where mind maps may be useful (and make the journey invigorating and rewarding). In the center will be the assigned topic. Nearest the center, surrounding the assignment, will be all the main supporting points (major attractions and/or waypoints) you want to develop. If the instructor provided his own set of sub-points he wanted included, fine. Put those as closest around the main and then build your presentation off of those. Using this method will keep the development of your paper concise, focused, and centered. If you have a smartphone (or even a digital camera), take intermittent snapshots of your wall and put them as files on your computer. When you finally get to the point of writing your paper, you’ll have the mind map as ready-reference. (Especially if you are in a dorm environment, you’ll want to do this before stepping out. You know how guys will mess with your head and your sticky notes!)As previously mentioned, the waypoints will become your beacons, keeping your development on course. They are not necessarily “endings” (as I originally indicated in my Smart Writers article), rather they are major points of interest to be elaborated.
(Contextually, I flop back and forth using the terms major attractions and waypoints. Sometimes I intend them to mean the same thing, sometimes I intend waypoints to refer to minor stops along the journey of what you are writing--things you want & need to include, but not necessarily your main points of interest.)
This article is part of a series. Please scroll through the Index to "Inspiration For Writers."