Writers and the Right Brain

Right and Left Brain Thinking for Writers and Everyone Else

Holy crap, I just did an exercise where I wrote a response to a question, then switched hands and answered the same question. With a totally different answer. Sure, my handwriting was awful, but I actually wrote a different answer. Apparently it has got something to do with how our right and left brains process information and assist (or hinder) our self expression.

the write typeI am reading The Write Type by Karen E. Peterson, which claims to help you “discover your true writer’s identity and create a customised writing plan”. The idea is you explore your preconceptions about writing practice and then find ways and opportunities based on your own lifestyle, routines and personal preferences to improve your writing output.

But that’s beside the point – I just wrote a totally different answer to the same question! The simple act of putting the pen in my left hand (my non-dominant hand) and focusing on that for a moment created all kinds of different connections within my brain and resulted in a unique response.

The questions were simple:

  1. When I think of being a writer, I think…
  2. When I think of being a writer, I feel…

The first time, writing with my right hand, my responses were:

  1. When I think of being a writer, I think… hard work, being successful
  2. When I think of being a writer, I feel… scared

When I put the pen in my left hand, covered the questions for a moment, then responded in childish scrawl, my answers were:

  1. When I think of being a writer, I think… challenging, recognition
  2. When I think of being a writer, I feel… passionate, motivated

When I look at the two sets of answers I can see an immediate correlation between the responses to Q1 – writing is hard work and challenging but can lead to success and/or recognition. But the emotional responses to being a writer (Q2) are quite different; My non-dominant left hand is governed by my right brain – the emotional, childlike and spontaneous side – which suggests to me a more “honest” response in terms of personal desire to be a writer. The right-hand / left brain (logical, adult) response of “scared” might perhaps mean I overthink and focus on the potential negatives of the writer’s life. My left brain is trying, perhaps, to protect me from failure and disappointment while my right brain is just shouting what I am often too afraid to say.

What does this all mean? Well, for me it is more fuel for the fire on my journey towards being a writer successful, happy writer. Our brains are hardwired to focus on the negatives, identify the dangers and keeps us alert and safe. We need to train ourselves to be positive, to see the good stuff, the opportunities, the potential for success and happiness. Reminding myself that writing and being creative is something I am passionate about, that it is something worth pursuing will be an important part of that.

I really didn’t expect to write two different answers to the same question only minutes apart. I thought I would share my discovery about the right brain. Perhaps it will encourage you to give it a try, or to think about the positives and opportunities in your life. In the meantime, I’m going to finish that book!

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