During the first week of Write Nonfiction in November (WNFIN) you’ve read about several types of writing projects you could start and finish during this 30-day challenge or anytime—a general nonfiction book, a memoir, a personal essay, or an e-book. Before you start any writing project, you must know what you are writing about. You also must know what content you intend to include in that project.
For a book of any type, you need to develop a table of contents, or your chapters. You must decide what will be in those chapters—the actual content. For an essay or any type of article, you must know your subject and decide what aspects of that subject you plan to cover within the confines of its length—the actual content.
One of the best ways to make these decisions involves using a process called mind mapping. You can do this by hand using a large piece of white paper, like a poster board, and colored pens, markers or highlighters, or a computer program, such as Freemind.com. (This program is free; you can purchase better ones.). Some people also like to do this process using Post-It notes. No matter the technique you decide to use, I’ve often heard it described as “vomiting” your ideas onto a page and then cleaning it up.