Software generated mind maps or hand-drawn? Do you use one, or the other, or both? Do you have a preference, or do they both serve you equally well in functionality and application depending on the situation?

I bet most, if not all mindmapping software users also create hand-drawn mind maps. Both methods clearly have huge benefits and advantages and occasions when each proves a better option.

As a hand-drawn mindmapper, I am sharing here my thoughts on the advantages of using the hand-drawn mind map method.

Hand-drawn mindmapping will always exist in the same way books will always exist – technology won’t, in my opinion, replace traditional methods; it will work alongside it. E-Books are an option not a replacement. Mindmapping software is an option not a replacement. Come back in 100 years time and perhaps things may look very different, yet I doubt it! The hands-on and personal feeling and satisfaction of reading a physical book or creating art or writing by hand on paper provides a body and mind connection that isn’t always there when using computers and technology. It could be likened to the difference between playing tennis on a computer or physically.

The hands-on method of hand-drawn mindmapping has a multitude of advantages – not “advantages over software”, advantages of the hand-drawn method itself. Rather than drawing comparisons between hand-drawn mindmapping and mindmapping software, I am focusing here specifically on what makes hand-drawn mindmapping so versatile, in and of itself.

What are the advantages of hand-drawn mindmapping?


You don’t necessarily need a computer screen to create hand-drawn mind maps; grab pens, pencils and paper and away you go! Naturally, scanning, colouring and sharing can be done on the computer, yet that often comes after the initial creation of your hand-drawn mind map or you may use coloured pens and pencils and finish the mind map completely by hand.

The physical creation is immediate and progressive; instantly you can have direct flow from brain to paper and capture thoughts and ideas before you forget them. Hands-on encourages body involvement, feeling as well as thinking, using your senses and combining physical, mental, personal, intimate, tactile and therapeutic elements. Hands-on gives you freedom of personal expression, tapping your unique brainpower and capturing your individuality right on the paper before you. Because you create a mind map from brain, through arm, via pencil or pen to sheet the creation of your content becomes highly memorable particularly when you add your own styling and design; essentially “drawing” how and as you feel.


Your style evolves as you create more mind maps and the look and feel becomes your personal method of expression much like an artist develops their own identifiable trademarks. Each mind map can be created differently in look, colour, design and style to make it special. You can create quick pencil mind maps right through to artistic, colourful and imaginative mind maps. Any mistakes or errors, as with creating art, can become part of the creation, part of the expression. Developing your unique style encourages both creativity and idea generation to flourish.


Creating hand-drawn mind maps is highly addictive. They bring out your knowledge and experiences and uncover your hidden brainpower as well as capturing new learning. Because the creation is physical, pen to paper, your content becomes highly memorable, helping you clarify your thinking and explore and develop your creativity. Keeping your mind maps in a physical folder means you can revisit and review and refresh your thoughts and knowledge. The text and images having been created by your own hand in your own style also assist recall.


Hand-drawn mind maps offer versatility; you can create whenever and wherever you wish, instantly. Ideas come any time and you can capture them fast. You can also create your mind maps in a relaxing environment of your choice; anywhere quiet and comfortable aids the creation process. It might be a relaxing room or a wide open field.

Pens, pencils and paper are highly flexible – you can create a mind map on a small scrap of paper or a huge sheet. Over and above paper you can explore wipeboards, flipcharts, canvas, even blank walls. Create mind map murals on rolls of paper or walls. Hand-drawn offers unlimited potential to diversify and explore artistically.


Developing your own style, you can create original and personal mind maps whether you are creating for yourself or to share with others. Drawing style and ability can be as unique as your fingerprint. You have the flexibility to create your mind map exactly how you want to; hand-drawn means 100% radial, twists, turns, flair and flamboyancy – multi-angle both in terms of direction and dimension.

As you develop your style because you are injecting yourself into your mind maps it encourages both the physical and emotional – it can be moving and therapeutic and really tap your inner feelings and ideas. The flexibility encourages your uniqueness. The connection between mind, body and paper taps your personal expression.

H Hands-on
U Unique
M Memorable
P Portable
S Stylish

Creating mind maps by hand is fun; when I started creating the above mind map in pencil, I suddenly noticed an acronym had developed from the main branches which helped me build a central image and theme. Hands-on, unique, memorable, portable, stylish, created HUMPS – a total fluke and it got me thinking about drawing a camel as the central image. The camel also symbolises longevity and reliability; a bonus association. The “memorable” acronym element came to me through the creation and process of mindmapping.

Of course, another “hump” to creating mind maps by hand might be thinking that you cannot draw.

Further useful links and resources:

Drawing a Mind Map from Start to Finish:

How to convert Text to Mind Map:

Books about Mind Mapping:


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