Studies have proven that most people are noticeably stronger in one hemisphere of the brain or the other, mostly due to their tendency to exercise one side more often. Neither side of the brain is better than the other. But, as writers, we can’t discount the value of figuring out which side we live in most—and then stretching ourselves to explore the uncharted territories on the other side.
Our work (and our lives) would be pretty useless without the logical sides of our brains. Our writing would be a frenetic wash of color and emotion, which would probably end up being indistinguishable to anyone but ourselves. We need that logical side of our brains to help us organize our thoughts into coherency. But the power of art is almost always the result of the right side of our brains—the unconscious side. So how do we keep our conscious brain out of the way long enough to tap into our unconscious creativity?
1. Make time to dream. In my recently released CD Conquering Writer’s Block and Summoning Inspiration (http://www.kmweiland.com/books_CWBASI.php), I talk about the importance of daydreaming. Quietude can be difficult to find in the midst of our hectic lives, but even just a few minutes of daydreaming every day can reap significant results.
2. Don’t censure yourself. Creativity is a delicate and temperamental creature, and it often wilts away under the weight of “the rules” or the carping of our infernal internal editors. Not everything that bubbles up from the depths of your unconscious creativity will have worth, but give yourself time to get it on paper and let it rest for a while before judging it.
3. Tell your left brain to zip it. Your left brain can be a pushy character. When he’s telling you he thinks he knows best how to write this story, tell him to stow it for a bit, so his chatter doesn’t distract you from the offerings of your right brain. Your left brain will get his chance later.
4. Focus on the senses. Our subconscious works on a level deeper than words. It feeds our brains with images, sounds, smells, tastes, and feelings, which our conscious brains then translate into words. Nothing wrong with those words (they’re the tools of our trade, after all!), but give a try to focusing on the raw sensations. Close your eyes and visualize the scene you’re writing. What colors stand out? What can you smell? What does your body feel like? This is the best way I know to find those all-important “telling” details that bring a scene to life.
5. Listen to your gut instinct. Ever get that itching feeling that something is wrong with a story? You’re zipping right along, having a good ol’ time with your characters… but something just doesn’t feel right. I’ve learned to trust my gut instinct. I can’t think of an instance in which it has ever failed me. We just have to learn to interpret what it’s telling us.
Most authors would be the first to admit that the best of their writing is beyond even them. It comes from someplace outside the conscious realm. Once we recognize and accept that fact, we are then able to take advantage of the tremendous opportunity of harnessing our unconscious minds. The two sides of our creativity—the conscious and the unconscious—working in harmony, the one pulsing and pounding ahead, the other slowing and refining, are capable of producing some pretty fantastic things.
K.M. Weiland writes historical and speculative fiction from her home in the sandhills of western Nebraska. She enjoys mentoring other authors through her writing tips, editing services, workshops, and her recently released instructional CD Conquering Writer’s Block and Summoning Inspiration.