Sunday, December 11, 2011

Right Brain vs. Left Brain and How it Applies to Writing

I've mentioned it earlier that I've been reading You First Novel by Ann Rittenberg and Laura Whitcomb. I've been sifting through the pages looking for tidbits of information on and off for weeks now. Speaking of which, I need to go renew it (I've probably racked up an unreasonable amount of fines at our local library from it).
Alright, back. Now that that's taken care of let me get on with what I want to say. Today, I wanted to talk about something that the aforementioned book talks about. You guessed it, the right and left side of the brain. In layman's terms the right side of the brain is the creative side and the left side of the brain is the logical side of the brain. Some people like to think of it as the writer (right) and the editor (left), or the artist (right) and the critic (left). You get the picture.

Personally, I think balancing the two sides of your brain (picture that!) is a huge struggle for any writer, teen or adult. It's a constant battle, with me at least, between being "inspired" and being discouraged and overwhelmed with what I am doing. This blog is a prime example. A Splash of Ink has been dormant for a couple of weeks. Here was my thought process:

Right: OOOO! I should write about the two sides of the brain! Yeah, I'll even take some notes from Your First Novel! It's going to be great!
Left: Is it really worth it? You don't have THAT many followers. Besides, you're "busy".
Right: would be fun...
Left: No, it really wouldn't. You're accomplishing nothing by keeping a blog
Right: Oh, okay I suppose

And so on and so forth. Finally I came to the point where I just sat down and wrote this post regardless of who was going to read it. Looking back at the book, I realized that I should probably implement some of the exercises and warm ups that it recommends to satisfy both sides of the brain. I figured I'd share some of them with all of you writers to help you along with balancing the universal writer vs. editor that lives in every writer.

Reading- reading is good for both sides of the brain
Right: It grows spirit and gives us hope for where we want to be.
Left: It's research and analysis.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when reading:
-What do I like/dislike about the characters?
-What would I change to make it better?
-How does the author make use of *insert literary device*
-What makes the book stand out, or what makes it make me want to bury it on the shelf?
Other tips:
-Give yourself permission to stop in the middle if it isn't very good
-Read the best books of the genre you want to write
-Listen to audio books as well, to "read" when reading isn't possible (taking the bus, walking somewhere, working out etc.)

Timed Writing Sessions- this is for the left brain, but satisfies the right brain as well
Left: It provides a workout and practice session to improve on writing.
Right: It provides opportunity to create.
Other tips:
-Put on an egg timer or an alarm that isn't in plain sight so you don't get distracted
-Don't reread or scratch things out

Back Reading- again, this is for the left brain but satisfies the right as well
Left: Refresher for writing the coming section. It eliminates irregularities in plot.
Right: You can "inspire" yourself with the beauty of what you written earlier, and see how you've improved.
Other tips:
-Read what you've written earlier in the story

Positive Feedback- this is a right brain exercise
Right: It's encouraging and gives confidence
Other tips:
-Mark up your work with encouraging words like "Bravo, excellent, superb"
-Write positive reviews for yourself like "Characters were deep and emotional"
-It might sound silly, but give it a try.
- Don't let your left brain shut it down for you!

Look at where your book will be on the shelf at a book store- this is a right brain exercise
Right: Again, it helps visualize success and gives confidence. Helps solidify genre choices.
Other tips:
-Pick an exact spot. This will help you write with an audience in mind

That's my short list of exercises that I took from Your First Novel. Hopefully they help you get in the mindset to write. All that being said, it is important that you don't spend all your time doing exercises and warm up. The point of these are to get you to write. In order to make that happen, I find it helpful to set an allotted time for warm ups, and then when its over I get down to my writing project.

Good luck and happy writing!


  1. Wow, this post was incredibly helpful. I'm glad you decided to write it, Sunny! I've read a few books myself about right and left brian, but your summary was very concise--and not only that, also practical. The exercises you noted will be very helpful to me, for certain. Thanks for the post :)

  2. @ Sienna North

    So happy that you stopped by and that I could be of aide to you! Good luck with your writing and thanks for the comment! :)


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