Well, it’s friday, and though I’m feeling a little under the weather with a sore throat, I am determined not to let it get me down. Nope, I’m pushing on. Mind you, today “pushing on” has involved a large chunk of time spent on the couch with a scarf wrapped around my neck and a steady stream of tea at my side (annoying, since it means I keep having to get up to pee). Tonight is the Cultural Studies holiday party, and I’m determined to be feeling better by the time the evening rolls around.
I thought I’d tell you about an interesting workshop I took part in yesterday on-campus. Organized by one of my fellow Cultural studies people, the workshop was geared around getting us to think visually about our research. Over the course of the day-long workshop, we learned different approaches for turning the muddle of ideas bouncing around in our ideas into mind-maps. Mind-maps are a great way to brainstorm, and to lay out all your ideas so you can easily determine how they are connected and/or all fit together.
In preparation for the workshop, we were asked to brainstorm as many ideas as possible and jot them down, without censoring ourselves. We then had to draw up lists of words, assigning them into categories by theme. Once we had our categories, we then jotted down each word/idea in each category onto a different colour of post-it note. We started our mind-maps by laying out the post-it notes on 6-foot-long sheets of paper.
Here’s a photo of my mind-map at the very beginning. (For anyone who doesn’t know yet, I am studying women and pubic hair — particularly pubic hair removal as a normalized trend — hey, it’s more complicated than it sounds!):
So there you go: my central issue (yes, PUBIC HAIR! — remember, I’m in Cultural Studies…) and all the little coloured post-it notes bearing individual themes/ideas around the issue.
After moving the post-its around on my paper for a little while, I took the plunge and started drawing. Here’s my mind-map at the half-way point:
so, you see? Kinda fun. If you’re at all visual (as I am), mind-mapping is a great way to start to really see how your themes are interconnected. In fact, at one point near the end of the afternoon, I started to feel overwhelmed by it all being SO interconnected, that I couldn’t figure out how I was every going to manage to turn it into a project with anything along the lines of a linear thread!
All in all, it was a great workshop and it really opened my eyes to the power of mind-maping. If your research is bogging itself down in your mind, it’s definitely a strategy I would recommend trying. You never know what you’ll discover…