Around third grade, I was taught how to draw something like the following illustration:
Using this, we were told, you could expand out ideas based on a central concept. You’d put the seed of the idea in the middle of the map, and then write more details about the idea in the outer “bubbles”. This was called a “Bubble Map,” one of the many thinking maps we learned how to do that year (see examples of other thinking maps in this PDF).
We often used these in school to get our thoughts together before writing a rough draft of a report, or to record observations on a specific concept. And there are several other uses for them, according to this eHow article.
Mostly science, language, and history used these thought-organization tools…but it occurred to me recently to try using a bubble map in particular to expand on a creative idea.
Why I Chose the Bubble Map Form
The structure of a bubble map is quite adaptable to any idea you want to explore, and its creation is simple; considering that my motivation for creative things has been somewhat lacking of late, I knew I needed something that was simple and adaptable for my use as a visual “thought prop”, to allow myself to flesh out an idea without feeling so daunted and overwhelmed.
Examples of Creative-Idea Bubble Maps
Seeing your thoughts visually organized like this can boost your creativity, as I found out while constructing the following two examples:
This one depicts ideas on my newest layout ideas for WithinMyWorld.org. Notice how I’m tackling many facets of design–usability/legibility, color choice, image and link styles. Bubble maps are great for doing this; the only limit to what you put in the “bubbles” is how big you drew the bubble to start with!
In this bubble map, I’m thinking hard about the various style details of a new song, describing the “mood” of the music, how to play the melody and accompaniment, how to style lyrics, etc. Bubble maps are very good for fleshing out minute details–stuff you would usually think of in a burst of inspiration and then forget.
Learn How to Make Your Own Bubble Maps
Aside from the time-honored pencil-and-paper method described in this eHow article, you can also do as I did and create one digitally using your favorite image-creation program (I used Microsoft Paint). With later editions of Microsoft Word, you can also do SmartArt Graphics that mimic some aspects of bubble maps and other thinking maps, as well. (Learn more about how to make SmartArt graphics here.)
And, if you want to build your bubble map digitally and easily online, there are actually several online apps that you can use. These are NIFTY 🙂
Don’t Think These Would Work for You?
Well, what if I told you that the song I describe in the second bubble map wasn’t even on the list of creative projects until I started trying to do a bubble map about music? Within moments of finishing the map, I was inspired to go to the keyboard and start messing around with a totally new melody.
If these things can jump-start my creativity in these days of headaches and mental fatigue…well, they might just save the world, who knows? GO BUBBLE MAPS! 😀