Posts Tagged ‘MindMap’

How do I write my blog posts with XMind

May 26th, 2009 1 comment

how-do-i-write-my-blogs-with-xmindI use write my blogs using XMind. More and more people at Pyxis use XMind or MindManager daily, and the group of bloggers is slowly growing :). As there is a great prize for bloggers next month, I want to share some “tricks”, maybe that will help you to write more blogs and to pick a chance to win !

What is coming next

  • How do I create content ?
  • How do I organize that content ?
  • How do I write the post ?
  • How do I publish it ?

How do I create the content of a blog ?

The first step is to produce the content that will be write down as core text of the post

Put the idea as the root

I rarely choose the title of my blog up-front.
Most often I just write an idea as the root of my map.
I’ll rename it later to mirror the title of that blog.

Brainstorm on this idea

At this step I put all my ideas on the map. I never try to organize them in a reading / writing manner.
I want to let most my ideas on the topic to flow out of my brain. I’ll have time later to reorganize content.

How do I organize that content ?

You now have a lot of ideas, it’s time to select the best ones !

Choose the hot topic for the post

After the first brainstorm, I usually have more idea than I need. Some are fakes, some are far from my initial ideas, some are grouped as whole topic.
At this step, I make a choice ! I reduce the whole tree map to a sub-group of branches on which I’ll concentrate my effort.
Usually it’s the “hot topic”.

Organize ideas from the brainstorming phase

I do not throw away the whole map, I just pick a part of it that I reorganize. I group, split, reorder branches and ideas.
At the end of this step, I still have words or small groups of words, and I usually have about 3 to 5 words as a primary branches, the main topics of the post.

Develop the plan

Each primary branch will be the title of post’s section in the blog.
At that moment I begin to rewrite words to a more “title-ish” way. Words become sentences, my blog is on the way !

How do I write the post ?

Blog posts are not only a following of sections’ titles. You need to create concrete content. Now that I’ve a great plan, it’s time to fill the holes !

Some months ago I used to proceed as follow :

  1. Export ideas as a plan
  2. Complete the text in my blogging tool

Recently, I moved a bit futher using XMind

Complete paragraphs using notes

For each primary or secondary branches I’ve previously created, I now add the body of the paragraph as a note.
I can also link to images, to files or whatever attachment available with XMind.

Choose a title

On the “last” iteration I have enough content to choose a relevant title for the blog. However, sometimes, I already have the title at this step. It has popped-out during one of the iteration.

How do I publish it ?

XMind allows you to export in a variety of differents formats. I used to export my blog either in plain text or HTML but for other purpose you can use PDF (XMind Pro).

Export as plain text

Plain text is my format of choice.
I prefer to export the map as plain text since I found easier to manually format the text in HTML.
I also use it when I want to insert my content in a Wiki or save it in Wiki Markup format.

Export as HTML

HTML is easy to insert in blogging tools (Dotclear or WordPress). You can just open the HTML source code exported, and copy-paste the body part as your post.
But you have to know that the HTML generated by XMind is not really clean. If you want to have a clean HTML, you will have to do some work.

Tune it and press ‘Save’

It’s time to read the whole text and to adjust the prose.
I still have to press ‘Save’ !
Now I’m done !

All of this is done incrementaty and iteratively

All of this seems to be a bit to “Waterfall”. In fact, it is more like iterative and incremental waterfall ! I write things in a step by step manner, and I usually, make at least 4 to 6 iterations, increasing incrementaly the content. Each iteration is the place for refactorings, enrichments… But at the end of a “sprint” the whole text is in a “potentially shippable” state.

Hopes it will help !
Have fun blogging 🙂