Creativity and content creation


Image via Wikipedia

My interest for 2012 is heavily focused on content creation. Blogging is all about content creation. I used to think that I wanted to write, but after taking a technical writing course, I realized that the world has changed. It takes more than good writing to create interest. Today’s media consumer expects drawings, diagrams, pictures, music, video…and more. We still tell stories, but there are more dimensions. Creativity is critical to content creation.

I’m in the everyone can be creative camp. I have a couple of friends who swear that they’re not creative. If you watch how they do things and observe the different ways they solve problems, it’s obvious they’re either being modest, don’t know what creativity is, or simply don’t recognize their creativity. Creativity is like any other skill: If you practice it, you get better at it. This brings me to mind mapping.

I’ve used mind mapping for years. It’s an amazing tool to make ideas flow. I first learned about it in Writing the Natural Way by Gabriele Lusser Rico. She called the technique clustering. The book is apparently still in print and well worth the read if you’re interested in creativity and writing. Mind mapping was allegedly created by Tony Buzan. If you’re interested in an introduction, the link below will take you to a professionally produced YouTube video by ThinkBuzan. They have a commercial product that supports mind mapping, but there are other choices.

[Mind mapping video (YouTube)]

[NOTE: I have no relationship, financial or otherwise, with ThinkBuzan.]

{ Have a favorite book on mind mapping, creativity, creative writing? Leave me a comment. }

As I said, I’ve used mind mapping for years. When I start drawing a map (pen and paper) the ideas just start to pour out of me. Until a couple of weeks ago, I always created mind maps with pen and paper. Because of the free-form style of mind mapping, I didn’t believe a  software tool would allow for the spontaneity you get from doing them by hand. Well, I was wrong. There are some terrific software packages that are amazing tools for mind mapping. Since I’m into Linux and Open-Source software, I’ll mention what appear to be the two top free programs: FreeMind and XMind.

Image representing XMind as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

I’ve tried both of these. FreeMind is completely free. XMind is sort of free, but not really. There is a free version, but some of the features are disabled. I find it irritating using a product like this because I keep bumping into the disabled features. XMind will sell you a yearly subscription ($49) that will enable all features. If you’re using Windows, Mac, or a Debian/Ubuntu-based Linux system you may find this program interesting. Other Linux systems are not supported. I use Arch Linux. It’s available in the Arch Linux AUR repository. It works, but not well.

[NOTE: I have no relationship, financial or otherwise, with XMind.]

freemind logo

Image via Wikipedia

I use FreeMind and love it. It is completely open-source: It’s free, available for Windows, Mac, and Linux…and nothing is disabled. I read several reviews of FreeMind and XMind. The reviewers seemed to prefer XMind. Unfortunately, I don’t know what versions of the two packages were being reviewed. I’m using FreeMind 0.90. I prefer FreeMind. Since both are free, give them a try and use the one that works best for you.

{ Do you use mind mapping software? Drop me a comment and let me know what program you use and a couple of things you particularly like about it. }

[An interesting post on mind mapping by an XMind user.]

Next, more about FreeMind and content creation.

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