Friday, September 3, 2010

Right Brain, Left Brain

I followed some writers’ comments showing great variance in their answers to such questions as “Do you listen to music when you write?” or “How do you get the creative juices to flow?” Someone may give a tip that I really like and another time I think I would never try that. We are all so different and that is a beautiful thing. We need to find out what works and doesn’t work for us and balance that with a willingness to try something new that could potentially enhance our craft.

This got me to thinking that maybe there is no right way to write. Maybe it’s a Right Brain/Left Brain thing.

I keep hearing that a first draft should just flow and let whatever you are thinking come as fast as it can. The edit and cleanup comes later. Just get it down. Okay. Am I doing that when I type a couple paragraphs that seem to flow, but then I stop and reread them before I can go on with the next flowing sequence? I may not be spending time figuring out a better word but if something glares at me I will fix it right then. It feels creative to me to make it better. Then I get to the end of reading the section I've written and I’m ready to go again. But only for a section. I don’t understand someone who can write the whole thing from start to finish without going back over what they've written. It’s as if my left brain's organization and structure wants to keep inserting herself into my right brain’s creative flow. Is this normal? Perhaps it is for me. Perhaps it’s only lack of experience.

Try this for fun: Clasp your hands together with fingers interlocking. Which thumb is on top? Now fold your arms. Which arm crosses on top? Chances are they are the same. Right thumb or arm on top leans toward being left brained and vice versa. I should say here that everyone uses both sides of the brain but that we have a tendency toward favoring one side to some degree. The amount of favoring can change, especially before adulthood.

Out of curiosity, I took a couple online brain quizzes. The shortest one pegged me as right-brained. Laugh out loud! I really do enjoy the editing process as much as the writing, music distracts me, and I look at a scene sequentially in parts that make up a whole. Very left-brained. Another had me almost totally left-brained and another put me as 58% left to 42% right. Go figure.

In reality, it takes a mixture of left- and right-brained thinking to be a writer. Upfront, one can see the imagination it takes to dream up the story. Underneath, logic is used to figure out the path a character would take or which word is best. The trick is to play our strengths and become a more balanced thinker in the weak areas while we use our whole brains to write. That is when what we write becomes truly satisfying.
Do you agree? So, which side dominates for you and how does it affect your writing?

14 comments:

Summer Ross said...

How fun! I find music distracting also. I like the editing and writing both. hmm maybe I'm left brain dominate with inklings of right brain spotting its way through?

KarenG said...

This post was way too complex for either side of my brain to connect with LOL. I came by to invite you to my Big Blog BBQ, going on through tomorrow. You can add some followers to your brand new blog!

KarenG

Melissa J. Cunningham said...

Forgot to comment when I came over before! LOL I was your FIRST follower! I'll hold that title forever! I gave you a shout-out on my blog. Expect visitors! Love you!

Kelly M. Olsen said...

Welcome to our awesome, close-knit writer/blogger world. Great post, by the way. You and I are cut from the same cloth, I think. My brain is definitely more left side, but I love it when my right side breaks through.

Carol Kilgore said...

According to the fingers and arms-crossing tests, I'm totally right brained. Maybe it's like the Hokey Pokey - you put your right brain in.......

I came here from Melissa Cunningham's blog.

Clarissa Draper said...

I did the challenges and one showed right and other showed left. Where did you take those quizzes online?

CD

Shannon said...

Nice thoughts Renae.

N. R. Williams said...

Hi, glad to meet you. I am a jumble I think. I was born left handed and switched by a teacher in 1st grade. No wonder I'm a mess. What do you love to write?
Nancy
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

C. K. Bryant said...

Nice post. I'm a follower now. YAY!!

kbrebes said...

Hooray, Renae! I love your pretty green blog! My right thumb is dominant, but then my left arm is dominant! Cool. I wish you still lived in Whittier. I was getting pretty excited there for a moment. C-ya.

Renae W. Mackley said...

Thanks for all the comments and I'm glad to meet all of you too! I just Googled to find the tests but the hand clasp and arm fold came from a school presentation to 7th graders by the counseling office. They had 20 or so questions for the kids to see about learning abilities and I remembered these in particular.
Just so we're clear, it doesn't matter which side dominates or if you're well rounded in the middle. Go out there and use that brain of yours!
Hope to see you next week!

Rebecca said...

I liked this post! What fun!

When I've taken those tests I come up as left-brained, but barely. There's a test my husband and I took that divides the brain into four quarters, and usually a person is dominant left or right. He was the front half and I was the back half. We kid that together we make a whole brain!

I know when I'm drafting I'm using my right brain. I have to focus and ignore the left-brain editor when I do this.

I like your blog and I'm a follower! :)

Valerie Ipson said...

I'm even---my left thumb comes out on top and my right arm crosses over on top.

Lori said...

Beautiful blog, Renae. Like Valerie my left thumb comes out on top and my right arm on top...

Following you now~!