Friday, April 13, 2012

Take That, Right-Brain!

Creative process = brain splatter
Last post, I talked about The Fight of the Century:My Left-Brain vs. My Right-Brain.  At that time, the left (analytical, logical) side of my brain was resisting trusting the right (intuitive, creative) side of the brain when came to the new story I am writing.

Upon posting, I got lots of encouragement from friends, here, on Facebook and Twitter. Most people were cheering for Right-brain: “Just let yourself go!” “Follow your gut!” “Forget about logical!”

My favorite was a writer buddy who told me my post reminded her of a quote she had read and written down from Stephen Covey author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

The creative process is also the most terrifying part because you don't know exactly what's going to happen or where it is going to lead. You don't know what new dangers and challenges you'll find. It takes an enormous amount of internal security to begin with the spirit of adventure, discovery, and creativity. Without doubt, you have to leave the comfort zone of base camp and confront an entirely new and unknown wilderness.

I also stumbled across this quote on Twitter by Roberta Jean Bryant author of Anybody Can Write

The fear of being wrong is the prime inhibitor of the creative process.

Those quotes sure are inspiring, aren't they? Makes you want to grab your rucksack & snap brim fedora and head out into the wild creative unknown!  No obstacle would dare get in your way because you have that creative fire in your eye!

Um, yeah.

Sadly, I have to admit in my battle of Left-Brain v. Right-Brain this week, creative Right-Brain lost. Like capital L-O-S-T lost.

Not only could I not force myself to write that “dead end” chapter I mentioned in the last post, I couldn’t even bring myself to move forward with my WIP until I had figured out where everything in the entire book was going.

Here’s what you get when your Left-Brain beats your Right-Brain into submission:
 An entire book mapped out on evenly-spaced index cards, with color-coordinated high-lightings indicative of different literary elements present in your novel. Take that, Right-Brain! 

I look at my chart and it brings me comfort. Why? Because I have created parameters for myself.  For me, it’s like the quote I mentioned before: “The enemy of art is the absence of limitations.” (Orson Welles). Too many choices meant I couldn’t seem to make any. Now, because I have set parameters, I believe I’ll be able to set my right-brain loose to do its thing. If it is willing to ever speak to me again.

Let’s keep in mind I’m not writing the great American novel here. Nor am I writing some great fantasy narrative, with hugely colorful realms and languages and characters. If I was, I daresay my pretty little chart probably wouldn’t work so well.

I am never going to be the most creative writer. I am completely at peace with that. But I will be a writer who gets projects finished.

Hopefully, I won’t have to put my right-brain into a coma every time to do it.


  1. Hey, there is nothing wrong with structuring your book before you write it. That's what we call a "plotter".

    The opposite end of the extreme is the "pantzer" - as in "writing by the seat of your pants" and most writers fall somewhere along the continuum.

    Both approaches work, and both are equally Creative. Yay YOU! you figured out what works for you.

    1. Thanks, Suzanne! I looked up pantzer just the other day. :-)

      For a day, even after my pretty board was created, it looked like I was going to have to start completely over on my book (had to do with a fast track submission requirement for a publisher). But I was able to work around it. Whew.