Are You in Your Right Brain?

I wanted to thank Kristen Lamb for the thought-provoking post How Being Tired Can Make You a Better Writer. I’m a new blogger and just started following her so I haven’t had a chance to read her other posts but based on this one, I’m certain they will be equally brilliant. She has also written two best sellers about social media: We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer. Since I’m a newbie I definitely have to check them out!

Now back to Kristen’s post. I especially enjoyed the discussion on the Conscious Mind vs. the Subconscious Mind. It reminded me of a college art class many years ago where we were learning how to draw using the right side of the brain.

As I recall the key was to focus on the negative space, the shapes surrounding the object you were drawing and not the object itself. The moment this shift in focus occurs, you are using your right brain and drawing seems to come naturally.

The right side of the brain processes information intuitively while the left brain processes it logically. People who are left-brain dominant are detail oriented and are generally good with numbers. Right-brain dominant people are good at visualizing and thus are more creative.

Sounds like the Conscious Mind vs. the Subconscious Mind in Kristen’s post doesn’t it? The left brain is the Conscious Mind, the side that wants to analyze everything and focus on the details. The right brain is the Subconscious Mind that doesn’t fret over the details. Who cares? Let’s just have fun, explore, and create.

I think we experience this when we write. Writer’s block feels a lot like our inability to shift from left brain thinking to right brain thinking.

Left Brain: “Wait, hold that thought. There’s a misspelled word.”

Right Brain: “You’re kidding me. Can we just forget about that for now? I’ve got something really good here.”

LB: “We can’t just leave it like that!”

RB: “Oh yes we can. Now move out-of-the-way before I lose this brilliant idea.”

LB: “Hold on. There…fixed it. Oh wait-“

RB: “What now? Will you please stop distracting me? I need to get this idea down before it’s gone!”

LB: “But, but-“

RB: “Not listening. La-la-la.”

LB: “Stop! There’s a dangling participle!”

RB: “Oh for heaven’s sake!”

LB: “Okay, we’re good to go. Now, what was your brilliant idea?”

RB: “I forgot.” {Sigh}

It’s frustrating, right? But when you do make the shift, when right brain (subconscious mind) finally tells left brain (conscious mind) to take a nap, well, that’s when the fun begins. I’m sure you can recall times when the words just flowed and when you finally stopped you couldn’t believe how much time had passed. It didn’t feel like hours, did it? That’s when you were in your right brain. Now if we could just make the switch on command that would be awesome. Imagine the novels we could complete!

I wonder if we could use the technique that I learned in art years ago to train our brain to shift focus?

Okay, I just googled it and here is what I found:

http://www.learn-to-draw-right.com/right-brain-left-brain.html

Follow the directions. If you really want to get the benefit of the exercise, don’t cheat. I did it and can actually recall the moment the two sides of the brain were warring with each other and when the switch occurred. Did you feel it? Let me know!

I also found this on that same web page and thought it was interesting enough to post here (with my edits in parentheses).

“However, by learning to access the right brain, you can learn ways to trick the left brain into leaving you alone quietly to get on with your drawing (writing) with your right brain – the side of the brain that really does know how to draw (write).”

I know I have right brain tendencies because I have always loved drawing, painting, and creating, but I do have a strong analytical side as well. I’m good with numbers. Hell, I made a career out of it. I wonder if I have a dominant side.

I just found a quiz for that:

http://painting.about.com/od/inspiration/a/quiz-rightbrain.htm

The quiz is designed for painters but writers are creative people too so just substitute “writing” for “painting” and answer it from a writer’s perspective. So how did you do? Are you dominant on one side? Let me know.

It turns out that my right brain is “quite dominant.” So this is why I was so miserable in my former career. I haven’t been in my “right” brain for years!

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8 thoughts on “Are You in Your Right Brain?”

  1. I am definitely taking this test later (getting ready for work now). Like you, Melissa, I love creative endeavors and creating but I also have a very analytical side as well. They are probably constantly warring with each other, which could explain why I am unhappy in my job environment. So fascinating!

    And I have had those “moments” where the words have broken free from the dam and just flowed and flowed and I have felt that maybe 20 minutes have gone by when it’s been more like 2 hours. Love those!

    Thanks for the terrific and inspirational post. Definitely has me thinking. 🙂

  2. This was a great post! I’ve studied up on the Left Brain/Right Brain thing for the past few years because I always knew there was something to that. Not sure if you’re into birth signs and such, but as a Virgo, I most definitely have a creative and logical side warring with each other. When I’ve taken those quizzes, each time I end up with 60% Right Brained/40% Left Brained. For nearly twenty years I worked in administrative positions, accounting assistant positions, and the like. But, inside was a war with my creative side who hated those jobs! I felt stifled sitting behind a desk, doing data entry or filing. But when my jobs called for me to talk to people, help them, come up with ways to help make things more efficient, and even work with the marketing side at times that’s when I flourished. Now, I work for myself as a content writer and because I have just enough of a logical side I can handle the business/admin aspects while still creating! It’s a happy medium.

    Btw, I loved your conversation between the left and right brain. It’s so true!!

    1. Thanks! Definitely into birth signs. My sign is Cancer and we are known to be very curious, imaginative, and practical people. We want to write about everything that interests us. When I took the quiz I was 70% RB/30% LB. My love for dogs (there is one at my feet right now), neatness, realism, and a couple other things keep me a little balanced, LOL. I can certainly relate to that internal war. I worked in the accounting/finance industry for years. I had to psyche myself up to go to work every day but fortunately, like you, I moved on to something better suited to my personality and I couldn’t be happier.

      1. It’s weird how that works. I think it’s because we’re conditioned as kids to do something reasonable or “normal.” No one truly ever encourages children to really follow their dreams or their talents, because they view the arts as a hobby. But people like you and I are proving them wrong! ;o)

  3. Melissa, thank you so much for this blog. I can’t tell you how much it and the comments from everyone has helped me. I have been battling also the waged war of my left and right brain! My work experience is in bookkeeping and admin type work, but I am miserable! I have been out of work for about a year and I have gained a love for writing and music. (not playing, but listening and analyzing) I have been at war with myself between what seems logical and my need to do something I’m passionate about! I will definitely be sharing this. Thank you and everyone that commented. I no longer feel I am alone. (and OMG the chat between the right & left brain?…happens to me EVERY day!)

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