Wednesday, September 23, 2009

It's a Brain Thing

When I start to think about creativity and the arts, sooner or later it always seems to come down to the "left brain" vs. "right brain" question. You know the stereotypes. "Left brain people" are logical, good with numbers, and solve problems in a linear, scientific fashion. "Right brain people" are artistic, creative and approach problem by looking at the "big picture." There are even tests on the web that tell you which one you are. The dancer test is my favorite.

But where do writer's stand in all of this? On one hand, we're clearly "right brain people" because writing is a creative endeavor. Duh. Then why did the evolutionary powers-that-be decide to put the language centers of the brain in the left hemisphere?

Two words: Corpus Callosum.

This is that little trench of white matter between the brain hemispheres that connect them and let them talk to each other. Back in the days when lobotomies were considered perfectly reasonable methods of brain surgery, doctors used to sever the corpus callosum of patients who experienced seizures. Sure, it might have helped with the seizures, but it led to a host of other problems. So what's the point?

The point is this. Writing is not a "right brain" or "left brain" thing. It's a whole-brain activity. Unfortunately, most people are more comfortable living in either one hemisphere or the other and they end up missing out on all the things the other half of their brain has to offer.

For me, this means allowing myself to take a few risks. I'm terrified of the chaotic free-association of my right brain so when I write, I end up falling back on outlines and copious notes. This is all well and good, except I often spend more time organizing my project (and outlines and notes) than actually writing it. So with this new project, I've decided to embrace the chaos. No outlines allowed. I'm writing each scene as it comes to me, regardless of where it falls in the story arc, and I'll worry about putting it all together later on. To those of you who have to critique my work, I hope you don't mind the mess.

What about you? Are you a right-brain or left-brain writer?

1 comment:

  1. Ohhh, interesting. I think I'm like you, in that I'm much happier organizing my notes and outlining my story. Actually writing is scary. But I also find the writing part much more fun, so when I'm not doing it, I miss it.

    I'll be curious to hear how your new approach for your wip works out.