Jan 11, 2011

Right and Left Sides of the Writer's Brain

I've been continuing through The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards and I've found the information on right side of brain vs left intriguing. I studied psychology for a while at Uni and have always found the brain fascinating, especially the placement of different functions.

In this book, Edwards examples special cases where the right side of the brain has been severed from the left (an operation performed to assist severe epilepsy). In such instances, there are exercises the test subject undertakes (naming objects in drawings, solving spacial problems, etc) where the left and right hand will push each other out of the way, so that the side of the brain that is best at that task can take over.

The exercise was interesting too. Perhaps you've seen this optical illusion before - is it a vase or two faces?

Edwards uses this picture in her exercise. You trace the side that suites which hand you draw with (if you are right-handed, you start with the face on the left, and vice-versa).

Here is an image you could start with, I found these at a great art site called Raisin Toast:
Right-hand drawers

Left-hand drawers

The rest is simple. You trace over the existing drawing, naming out loud the parts as you go (forehead, eyes, nose, top lip, bottom lip, chin, neck). Then draw over the straight line at the top and try to go down redrawing the mirror image on the other side, also naming the parts. You may find your brain gets confused with the names - this is your right side and left side arguing!

This exercise also works if you draw your own vase-face. Fiction writers are often creative people who tend to favour the right side of their brain, but the logical and organised left side is also essential to crafting a good story - so we need to exercise both sides! 

I'm up on my drawing, reading and notebook goals, but down on my typing up my manuscript goal - how are yours going?


  1. So far I have kept up on my writing goals, but I'm coming down with a cold so that may soon be going down hill.

    For some reason I can often see both images in those optical illusions, the two faces and the vase. Not sure what that says about my brain. Probably that it has too much floating around inside it, LOL!

  2. Wow! That's really interesting. Might need to look into that book! I love learning things about how the brain works and what not.

  3. I've been drawing too, and avoiding my manuscript, which cries out for a rewrite. I must tackle it. It is a personal challenge I am determined to conquer.

    Thanks for visiting my blog. I know how busy you are.

  4. That is so cool! I'd probably fight with myself on the nose because I would think it doesn't look like a nose because of my poor drawing skills but cool nonetheless.

  5. This is a fascinating post, Charmaine. I'll have to try it! :-)

  6. Off to go try it right now! I love reading your info about all of this. :)

  7. This is fascinating!

  8. Janel - you're allowed days off from goals when you are sick!

    Colene - I'm always fascinated with the brain and how much scientist think is going on in there - it certainly doesn't feel like that much is happening in my head most days.

    Myrna - love a personal challenge ;-j

    Clarissa - don't worry, my face drawing ended up very flat, looking like neither faces or a vase (an anti-optical illusion?)

    Shannon - nothing like having fun with pencils.

    Alleged Author - let me know how you go with your drawing, mine was very lame, but still interesting to do.

    Catherine - Thanks!