Oct 1, 2009

Looking for Mr Right (side of the brain)

Which side of the brain is the 'write' side?

Lately I've come across a lot of non-fiction writers who are taking on the NaNoWriMo challenge (I am seeing that I will be unable to do a single blog post between now and December without mentioning NaNoWriMo). This excites me.

Why? Because too often I hear people complain that they are not creative, that they are more analytical. 

Truth? You're a bit of both. You might sway more to one side than the other, but by harnessing both skills you can combine them and come up with a wonderful piece of fiction/non-fiction.

Consider the novel Eucalyptus by Murray Bail, this book interweaves folklore style romance with reference style material about Gum trees. Click here to read a review, the book won awards and is a favourite of mine.

Is it just in our heads that we are wired for either organisation or creativity? No (and yes).

Just as different parts of the brain are used for seeing as for hearing, we use different sections of our brain for fiction and non-fiction. We have to exercise both sides of the brain so one doesn’t get lazy.

Have a look at this website here and take the test. Are you a right brain thinker or a left brain thinker?

The trick is, if you stare at it long enough you can usually change the direction and therefore change the side of the brain you are using.

Why do I care about this so much? Teaching English in high school means seeing kids categorize themselves. I don't mind student's feeling pride in being creative or logical, but I don't want them carrying any self-doubt about their abilities for the one they think they can't do.

How do you exercise the other half of your brain? Easy, try this:

Left side: Look at a picture of an animal. Then, quickly write as much as you know about that topic for 10 minutes straight. E.g: How much do you know about ducks? You may start off thinking you know very little, but as you write your mind will prompt memories of data. This is a good warm up to do before writing an essay.

Right side: Look at a picture of a place or animal (not your own photos). Now write freely and imaginatively for 10 minutes about that picture, whatever it inspires.
E.G: If you have a picture of a cat, write what the cat is thinking and what it plans to get up to later.

So here is my dare for NaNoWriMo:

If you are a right side of the brain thinker, I want you to do a little research for your plot and find an interesting topic that you can provide informative data for in your story (maybe your character is learning something cool in class or reading a manual?)
But if you are a Left brain thinker, try inserting an element of fantasy, magic or sci-fi into the plot, perhaps a mythical creature? Don’t question it, just put it in and write it. Remember to include feelings in your story.

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