For a few discrete tasks—short bursts of writing, for example, or annotating PDFs—it makes sense to loop iOS devices into a Mac-based workflow. Finally we can add mind-mapping to the list, now that MindNode syncs through iCloud.
MindNode Pro, the veteran mind-mapper for the Mac, is fast, elegant and powerful. Until recently, though, files created using the Mac app were not fully compatible with the iOS version. Worse, there was no seamless sync solution. Recent updates to both apps brought full iCloud integration (as long as you purchased the Mac app through the Mac App Store).
Now you can create a map on your Mac, add a few nodes on your iPad, and pick up right where you left off back on your Mac.
MindMapping is useful at earlier stages of writing and is very similar to outlining, although the latter tends to be more structured (and thus could accompany the process of writing at all its stages). I create a mind map for every current or pending writing project, especially those that I won’t be writing for some time. This allows me to “cook” the papers for a month or two before I begin writing in earnest. (The “cooking” metaphor is David Sparks’; see the “Cooking Ideas” Mac Power Users episode.)
No matter where I am, or what I’m doing, if an idea bubbles up I can open MindNode and tap away. When a project is getting closer to the writing stage, I set aside dedicated Pomodoro segments to re-arrange and edit the corresponding map.
When the map is fully cooked, I transition out of MindNode and into Scrivener, the superb writing app. Like other mind-mapping software, MindNode exports to OPML, the standard outlining format. Scrivener plays nicely with OPML, by creating nested documents for each of the map’s branches and sub-branches. The map is now a ready-to-write Scrivener project.