Monday, May 11, 2015

Right Brain/Left Brain Writers

In celebration of passing 250 blog posts and more than 20,000 page views, today I am reposting the first blog post I ever wrote (from September 2010). It keeps getting views because of the search engine keywords. Fun food for thought. Enjoy!

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, but 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 how someone 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?

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