Jan 13, 2011

Writing from bits of your brain

As I've been looking at right and left brain functions for writers, I dug up some information I'd found in an old post and wanted to share. Some writers claim to be creative and prefer to write without plots or plans, others like their lists and outlines, thinking themselves more analyticalIs 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. Would you like to know if you are more of a right brain thinker or a left brain thinker? Have a look at this website here and take the test. For me the dancer goes clockwise, my youngest daughter (Matilda) also sees it clockwise - we are righties. My husband and eldest daughter (Emily) see the figure go anti-clockwise - they are lefties. 

But you're not locked in. 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. If you wanted to harness the skills of both sides of your brain you can exercise the 'lazy' side.

How do you exercise the other half of your brain? Easy, try this:
Left side: Look at a picture of any 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 essays.

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.

None of us have a dormant side of the brain, but sometimes I think we rely heavily on the side we're already comfortable. It can be freeing for our writing to push ourselves outside of our usual box. What side of the brain do you lean towards? Or does yours switch back and forth constantly?

Want to find other ways to exercise your brain? Try this link:


  1. Wow! That's a really awesome exercise!

  2. I switch so it appears. Fascinating post. :)

  3. What a great post Charmaine. Thanks. I'm definitely a righty, a dreamer. My right brain is like a guard - it does not allow me to entertain things like math.

  4. I started out clockwise, then blinked and it switched to counter-clockwise. Makes sense since I started out writing technical non-fiction articles, but now I write fiction.

  5. I couldn't get it to go anti-clockwise. It only went one way from the start.

  6. It is an interesting test, I thought it was a trick as I could only see it go clockwise, but Emily swore it was going anticlockwise. I can get it to switch briefly after a long time but it really wants to go clockwise for me.
    Shows me I need to exercise my analytical side more.

  7. I agree with you that we tend to keep to the side where we feel most comfortable! Trying to "think" out of the box sometimes causes us to get a little jittery. Great post as always, girlie!

  8. Hey Charmaine this is awesome. I love these left brain/right brain tests as I studied kineseology for awhile and it is so useful to know how to activate both sides. I am definitely a righty, but I took the test, then left the room, came back and it was going anti-clockwise. Oh, does that mean I have some logic somewhere?

    I came across from Renee's and am so glad I did. I've clicked on follow so I'll definitely be back to learn more. It's always great to meet another Aussie in the blogosphere..:)

  9. Alleged Author - as always, thanks :-)

    L'Aussie - Welcome aboard! I was just reading your post on the floods - it really is unbelievable how high the waters got!

  10. I was completely surprised that she was turning clockwise. I couldn't get her to go the other way. I always thought I was more left-brain. I'll have to look again when I'm not right in the middle of my me-creative time!

  11. Bel - I think it does affect the way you view the dancer. Maybe after reading a few chapters of non-fiction, would switch the brain to the other side. It's amazing that our brain has these select little parts for different things. Apparently watching a mystery movie lights up a different part of the brain than reading a mystery novel (and reading lights up more of the brain than watching television).