It is important to have an idea of what you are going to write before you begin. Once you have done your research and gathered your notes, you will have a good idea of your approach. A mind map is a great tool to use to help you organise your thoughts and make a solid framework for your ideas.
Mind maps are based on the work of cognitive specialist, Tony Buzan who is featured on the side of this post. They enable you to expand your ideas exponentially, helping you to understand your readings, topic notes and make links and associations with your question.
I have made up a simple generic mind map to demonstrate the basic structure of an essay. You can organise the body of your essay and the content of the answer with references easily and this can be a great tool to help you as you write and further develop your ideas. (Make sure you click on the image to enlarge it.)
Below is an example of two completed mind maps for an essay.
In these mind maps, the body 1 and body 2 headings have been replaced by the topics for that section of the essay. Your mind maps could look like this, or could be quite different depending on your writing task. Happy mapping!