Right brain vs. left brain writing

Hey there. I haven’t been posting like I used to, mainly because I am retired now. But let it be known that I’m not dead yet. I’m still writing books, teaching an occasional class, and babysitting our three-year-old grandson a great deal.

I was just mowing the backyard, which is where I do most of my thinking, as many of you know. And I started thinking about right-brain and left-brain writing. Right-brain thinking deals with the creative side of things, while left-brain thinking is the logical side. One might think if I am talking about writing, it would mainly be right-brain (creative) activity, but that’s not necessarily so.

Right-brain activity gives an author his ideas, ability to structure storylines and characters, and add plot twists. I am sure there are a lot more things here, but you get the idea. Left-brain activity gives you structure, an ability to handle grammar, spelling and punctuation properly, and the ability to edit. So you see where I am going with this.

If you have a child who is right-brain dominant, most people would say, “Oh look, a budding writer!” And that’s mostly true, but one just can’t say that creativity solves everything. Discipline is highly underrated when it comes to writing. You need to accept that structure, mastering the English language (if that’s the language you’re writing in), and developing lots of lots of patience are on the road before you. If you’re right-brain dominant, patience and structure probably aren’t your strong suit. But sorry: that’s what it takes.

Fantasy writing is a good example of that. The right-brain thinker is creating a world of fairies, dragons, and men with swords and armor. But what makes fantasy hard to write is that you don’t have any established rules for world building; instead you have to make them up and then stick with the rules regardless of the temptation to suddenly decide to have your fairy mowing the lawn or going off to the university. That’s called a social contract between the writer and the reader, and it’s a mixture of left-brain and right-brain thinking.

I really don’t know where I am going with this, other than to say that writing takes creativity and discipline. If you don’t have one or the other, you’re in trouble. That’s what I’ve learned in my several decades of writing.

That’s it. Have a nice day.


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