The Use of Spider Mind Maps

Updated November 21, 2016

Spider mind mapping is a graphic organiser, or one type of visual thinking technique. While recent types of mind mapping are associated with Tony Buzan of England, some forms of mind mapping can be traced back to the third century. Variations on mind mapping include mind webs, spider diagrams, tree diagrams and brain chains. Mind mapping is often considered a specialised form of spider diagram. Where a spider diagram uses only words, a mind map integrates colours, images and illustrations into the diagram.


Spider mind maps are a way of thinking that involves non-linear processes to outline an idea. The process involves an organic representation of thoughts and associations in a diagram form. They can be used for various purposes such as studying, writing, forming decisions, generating ideas, breaking down complex ideas, or classifying things or thoughts.


The reason spider mind mapping is a powerful tool is that it works with the way the human mind works. It allows people to arrange thoughts as they arise in the mind, according to importance, and to arrange the ideas intuitively. Adding colours, diagrams, sketches and pictures, makes it a more enjoyable process and has the added benefit of further engaging your brain.


Start with a blank piece of paper, and write the main idea in the centre. As thoughts or ideas occur that are related to main idea, write them around the main idea, connected by lines. You may come up with sub-ideas; connect those with lines, too. Add pictures or images as the occur as well. The image will generally resemble a spider or octopus figure.


For the spider mind mapping technique to be most effective, it's important to not second-guess yourself or hesitate. Write thoughts down just as quickly as they pop into your mind. Don't worry about going off on tangents or getting too far afield in your thinking. Let the associations flow freely. The results are not necessarily neat and orderly, or symmetrical and organised.


You might leave the spider mind map and then later have new thoughts. That's fine; just add on to your diagram wherever the new associations seem to fit best. If you run out of room, don't worry. Just add on another sheet of paper. The advantage of mind mapping a spider diagram is that there is no set way, no perfect course or necessarily a finishing point. When you feel you've exhausted the topic, go back and discover all the associations and ideas and move forward from there. There are all kinds of examples of spider mind maps online and in books, seminars and software programs. People in all types of careers use spider mind maps to help brainstorm or problem solve.

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About the Author

Katlyn Joy has been a freelance writer since 1982. She graduated from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville with a master's degree in writing. While in school she served as graduate assistant editor of "Drumvoices Revue" magazine.