© 2017-2020 by D.A. Navoti



"By its very nature, the linear presentation of standard notes prevents the brain from making associations, thus counteracting creativity and memory." - The Mind Map Book (1993)

I'm an obsessive mind mapper. Whenever I'm in a creative or critical thinking pickle, my brain goes into dump session mode, meaning, on paper, I end up with tons of nonlinear notes so I can see patterns and draw conclusions. I've written scenes this way, mapped out grant applications, and even finessed goals by identifying my overall thinking patterns.


The Mind Map Book by Tony Buzan has nifty examples of mind maps that are based on natural patterns, like lightning bolts, tree roots, branches, flowers, etc. According to this article on Business.com, mind mapping can even break down complex business ideas, hence their necessity as I draw out the next steps in my creative career.


Here are a few examples from the book:


My office can look similar to the image of Dr. Stanley above. Here's a sample of a mind map for a grant application. As you can see, I've listed my accomplishments and broke them further, pushing everything I could as far as possible. From there, I noticed a common theme: I am fulfilled by supporting communities-in-need, which might be the overall theme for a grant application.


I recently bought a roll of tabletop paper. So yeah...I'm kinda prepared :-P

Here are free mind map templates to get you started from Northern Virginia Community College's website.



Toys are probably the first creative "thing" humans are introduced to. Toys offer relief, distraction, and humor. They also transport us off-world through creativity. Interestingly, toys are cross-cultural and date back thousands of years. And they teach whatever the toymaker wants us to learn. According to the documentary The History of Toys and Games, narrated by the late and great John Ritter (miss that guy), the word "toy" is rooted from an old English term for "tool."


A good college friend is obsessed with Legos and he recently gifted me figures of a rugby player (I'm loooong retired) and a cutesy Pride bear. Scattered in my home are other toys, like a troll doll my mom gave me (I was obsessed with them as a kid). Another friend gave me an "action figure" of Marie Antoinette with, yes, a detachable head, after I read Antonia Fraser's book about the infamous historical figure. While vacationing in Belgium, my B&B host gave me toy figurines from The Adventures of Tin Tin, created by Belgian artist Hergé, which I also loved as a boy.


My collection reminds me that adults probably need toys as much as children do. Childhood is fleeting, but imagination doesn't have to dissolve. As creatives, our first dip into creativity was most likely in our toy box. So what's in yours?


Ps. John Ritter forever.





What a whirlwind 24 hours. My weekend began with a rejection email from a writing contest. No problem. Rejection is familiar territory I can breeze across. Then 12 hours later, I learn I'm selected to participate in the Canyon De Chelly Ultra Marathon in October 2020 (more on that in a bit). Alright, that's better news, right? Especially since over 800 runners apply but only 175 are selected through a lottery process. Not long after, however, a second rejection email for a different writing contest rattles my inbox (I'm a finalist but not the winner). Alas, that familiar rejection territory returns, but my ego sinks me like an anchor.


Art-survival is binary. You're successful or you're not. My problem-solving brain sees no middle ground. And that's dangerous. For instance, if I'm successful, I've got to maintain my stature by heightening my skills. And if I'm not successful, there are opportunities I need to advocate myself for, which requires serious effort. Down, up, down, up. The feeling twists my insides.


I'm not a rollercoaster person. Never have, never will be. The thrill doesn't suit me, any more than actual life's ups-and-downs. Still, it's not always about the feeling. Sometimes it's about the sounds and smells, or in my case, the view.


Inc. published an article titled "5 Ways Mentally Strong People Deal with Rejection" and Number

5 speaks to me:

5. They Learn From Rejection
Mentally strong people ask themselves, "What did I gain from this?" so they can learn from rejection. Rather than simply tolerate the pain, they turn it into an opportunity for self-growth. With each rejection, they grow stronger and become better.

What I'm learning is to take in the view from the curve in the track before my next nose dive. What's spotted are all of my accomplishments and sacrifices thus far, as well as acknowledging versions of myself hopping on this thrill ride. The funny thing is I can get off my rollercoaster whenever I choose. No one is forcing me. And that, my friends, is my takeaway from rejection(s): I know I'm getting back on even though the ride isn't over yet.


So, yeah, I have 35 weeks to train for a 55k Ultra Marathon. Let's chat about that a different time...

D.A. Navoti

About the Writer

D.A. NAVOTI (@da.navoti) is a creative nonfiction and poetic prose storyteller. He's a 2020 Seattle CityArtist recipient and a former fellow at Hugo House and Jackstraw Cultural Center. Read More... 

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