As creative people, we look at the way our right brains work, and think we’re alone in that. We think we’re the only people who have certain ways of working or certain problems in our work. Believing you’re alone,that it’s “just you” and “just the way you work” can hold you back. When you understand what’s really happening and why, you can work with your right brain instead of reacting to it. You, and your creative right brain, will be happier and more productive.
Over nearly a decade of studying creativity, I’ve come to some conclusions about my right brain and its signals that have helped me get through creative stuck places. Let’s take a look at the physical and mental signals your right brain sends, and what its is trying to say with those signals.
When You Can’t Find the Way In
Whether you’re starting a project or moving forward to a different section, sometimes you just can’t get it. You don’t know where to start. You know what you want to say. At least, you think you don’t. It’s like you’re walking around your story, looking for the hidden door. You press on seams and pull on words, trying to open the way in. Nothing comes.
Feeling stuck before you even begin, or in the middle of a transition, frustrates and irritates. It may be tempting to just grab anything you can find and keep moving forward.
What your right brain wants you to know here is that you’re off the track. You may not be far off, but the path you think you want to take won’t get you where you want to go.
When the Words You Write Just Don’t Work
Sometimes you start writing or pick up where you left off, and the words feel like your dog wrote them with the cat’s right hand. They don’t sound like you. They don’t fit.
Your right brain isn’t on strike. It’s simply saying, “You’re better than this. You haven’t thought this through, or your mind is on something else, or right now is simply not your time.” Your right brain might also think that you’re just typing and not writing and that you’re not putting yourself into your writing.
Often the best solution here is a break, maybe a snack, a little time to psych yourself up, and then a return to writing. When you come back to the piece, type out the last page or two that you typed before things went south. This helps you regain your voice and write as yourself.
When You Feel Inspired and Energetic and You Could Write for Days
If you’re like most writers, including myself, this is the feeling you write for. When writing is good it’s like falling into a trance. At this point your right brain is saying, “You’re doing great. Keep going.” It’s wearing a little coach’s cap and a whistle and cheering you on to the finish line.This is the kind of right-brain signal we’re prone to ignore. We may think that the energy is temporary or that the writing won’t stay this good.
The writing won’t always be this good, but we should appreciate and enjoy this time. Our right brains are letting us know we’re exactly where we want to be. This is a time to make the most of the energy, passion and absolute rightness of the words.
When You Feel Calm and Capable and Your Writing is Steady and On Track
This is when you probably don’t even think about your right brain or take note of the fact that things are going well. The writing is flowing, but the trance doesn’t come. You’re making good progress, but it’s not exciting or powerful.
While it may seem that your right brain has nothing to say except for the words you’re writing, it has, in fact, a powerful message. “You’re doing just fine.”
The writing life is full of interaction with your right brain, from asking for ideas and listening for the words to wondering what on earth is going on in that creative part of your mind. Knowing that your right brain actively works to help you with your writing, and understanding the signals, is one of the best ways to become a more consistent and happier writer.
Angie Dixon studies and writes about creativity and the lives and minds of profoundly creative people. Her latest book, The Leonardo Trait: How to Stop Trying to Be “Normal” and Be Who You Really Are is now available on Amazon. Learn more about the Leonardo Trait at Leonardotrait.com