by David Sharp
We've all probably taken some quiz describing us as a right-brained (creative) or a left-brained (analytical) person. It's easy for us to relate to a tendency for one kind of thinking over the other. However, right-brain/left-brain dominance is a modern myth of science -much like the one about only using 10% of your brain. (Unless you're catatonic. But then, how would you be reading this?) The truth is we use both sides of our brain.
|Inspiration? It's just past the hippocampus and left at the|
medulla oblongata. If you hit the cerebellum, you've passed it.
We choose between our wizard robe and our lab coat.
Nevertheless, we tend to approach our writing (and revising) with a creative emphasis or an analytical one, switching out from day to day. Will today be about unbridled creativity, or logical structure? Allow me to opine that the best writing sessions don't make you choose. Composition is the process of translating creative thought into a structural format we call "story." Apologies for the technical jargon. My best writing (and revising) sessions are somewhere to the left of brainstorming and to the right of line-editing. These are the ones where the story seems to write itself.
I am not saying that I don't have chaotic brainstorming sessions or that I don't go back and perform grammar surgery. Sometimes it is important to look at my writing with a cold analytical lens. All writing sessions can't be magical, nor should they be. But those truly memorable sessions, the ones where time melts away like M&M's in your mouth (but not in your hand), are about synergy. It's when all that wild creative energy translates into the perfect structure as "words," "sentences," and "paragraphs." -More jargon, I know. Sorry.
Layered characters require layered writers.
Why make yourself out to be 2-dimensional by pigeon-holing yourself as a right or left-brain person? My desk testifies that I am into creative chaos, but I also like spreadsheets, because I enjoy giving form to things that are abstract. The full process of writing, with all the revision and editing that goes into it, takes an enormous range of mental processes. You are applying organization to inspiration. If you've so much as produced a short article, that's a lot of brain-juice.
|Structure and imagination come together|
to make a pretty nifty staircase!
What's my point here? It's this. Don't box yourself into a right-brain/left-brain mentality. Outside of being scientifically inaccurate, you're selling yourself short. Achieving a state of flow is all about balance. Those times when your brain is firing on all cylinders are those times that you feel as if you've left your brain altogether, right? That's when the magic happens. You are absent from your own mind, and fully present in your story. And that is why (forgive me for this) the write brain is the brain you've left behind.
For more on writing-brain science and achieving flow, check out the following articles:
How to Find Your Writing Flow
(This one includes some great thoughts on what constitutes a state of flow, as well as a nifty chart.)
Being Creative: The Right-Brain/Left-Brain Myth and Flow
Modern Myths of Learning: The Creative Right Brain