Someone with writing issues

Recently, I was talking with someone who has trouble with writing. She’s great at talking and is very articulate. Somehow, when it comes to writing, she has issues. The words never come out as well as she speaks and the logical flow gets lost.

I’ve just dropped her a note, the main content of which follows. It starts by talking about a mutual contact:

… I think he’s rather keener on MindJet’s MindManager now. But, at the time, he got a lot of value out of BrainStorm.

The two programs are not synonymous. BrainStorm grabs your thoughts and text clippings from anywhere quickly and easily and lets you bugger about with them – moving, structuring, editing and so on.

As I mentioned the other day in London, I use it a lot. (Background, I wrote it originally to help me with managing, editing and writing – in 1981.)

It occurs to me that you might find it useful, especially for grabbing the key points, establishing a sequence, identifying and filling gaps, and outputting a template for whatever it is you’re trying to write.

It sits in a space apart from outliners (although it resonates with them) and mind mappers (although it resonates with them too). It was written before both appeared on the market. It is text. It is simple. It is fast. It doesn’t get in the way of your thinking.

There are some screencasts here:

I can’t remember which is best to start with, but ‘real life organisation’ would appear to hold promise.

The website, as you’ve probably realised, is and the program is free to download and use for 30 days. I can extend that if you need more time to evaluate it. The download is only a couple of meg and installation takes about a minute.

I’m not going to claim it’s intuitive – although some people fall for it straight away. It’s something to do with how we’re wired, I think.

In essence it’s a list. Any entry in the list can have its own list ‘underneath’ – double click on an entry’s icon or press ‘Home’ and it becomes a heading, ready for its own list. The same entry can appear in multiple places and they’re automatically hyperlinked. This has powerful uses which I won’t bore you with here.

The whole can be displayed as an outline for when you’re figuring out how far you’ve got or whether there are gaps or too much information.

And it can be printed, written to a file, published as HTML or OPML and so on. Frankly, the publishing aspects are not central. The ‘Write to clipboard’ is probably the most useful output because you can then drop the text (or the outline) into another program.

I thought that if this description helps my friend, it might help you.

PS I have just installed and created a small project in MindManager Pro 7. It’s a totally different animal and I really shouldn’t have mentioned it in the same breath as BrainStorm. It is a comprehensive graphical mind-mapping program with all manner of presentational features and project management tools. BrainStorm is much more of a personal tool: a mind assistant primarily for your own benefit. Think Segway versus jumbo jet.