This week, at very short notice, I stepped in to run a thrilling class at The School of Life. How To Be Creative is a subject I've always been drawn to, but I had little time to prepare for last night's class, which lasted two and a half hours.
It just happens that Cathy Haynes, who devised that class and usually runs it, had recently asked me to do an event with Tony Buzan. Now, I had never used Buzan's trademark ‘mind maps', but I was inclined to believe his notion that making ideas into maps, with lots of visual detail, could be the best way to absorb them.
It's one thing to believe something. It's another to try it. So I spent a lot of time yesterday running over the 15,000 words (and more) that go into Cathy's How To Be Creative class and making maps out of them.
I started by making maps of the whole thing, then went on to maps of the various individual sections, and maps of various impro games I thought might work well too. Finally, as the dark began to fall, I made one last map, with coloured branches (as Buzan recommends) and not a few small images scattered among them (ditto).
And I'm happy to report that the process seemed to work very well indeed. I took the precaution of warning people before I started that I might be a bit halting, here and there, and they (therefore?) looked unbothered when I did get a couple of things wrong.
But overall I was delighted that just one quick glance at that single, colourful map was enough to tell me exactly where I was, and where to go next – the whole point of maps, after all. I was also pleased that, when the class ended and people came over to ask questions, not a few of them wanted to examine and admire my map.