Saturday, October 20, 2007

Left vs Right

Here's a fun test. Is the dancer rotating right (clockwise) or left (counterclockwise)?

Left vs Right Brain: Test for creativity or logic (also here if that one disappears).

They say if she's rotating right you're using the right side of your brain, the artistic side. If she's rotating left you're using the left side of your brain, the logical side. I don't know if that's true or not, but it's a cool effect anyway!

For me she's usually rotating left, but sometimes she goes right. Which does conform to the engineer and artist parts in me. My daughter can make it switch back and for as she looks at it. I can't! When I look at it I can't imagine how it could possibly go other other way, even though it might switch directions next time I look at it :-)

What does that have to do with writing? Writing draws on both logic (left brain) and creativity (right brain). Stories need to make sense, be logical. They also need to be surprising. It's a balance. When structuring a story, some writers feel more comfortable relying on the logical side, some on the creative side. That's why some writing advisors will say you must plan your novel before beginning and others say planning will stifle creativity. The truth is whatever you find works for you. Play around with planning and not planning and you'll find the balance that works for you. (And the balance may change for different projects.)

With National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) coming up next month, you'll have a great opportunity to experience letting your right brain take the driver's seat. :-) (More on NaNoWriMo later.)

There are also right brain and left brain writing prompts. Right brain prompts often present random ideas and let your brain find connections. Left brain prompts often begin with a structure and let your brain use that as a foundation to play with ideas.

The WritingFix has a nice collection of right brain and left brain prompts. It used to be easy to navigate but someone "fixed" the layout and now it just makes your eyes hurt. (It also used to be easier to ignore the teacherly advice on how various exercises tie into the "important stuff" the kids are "supposed" to be learning from the exercise.) But here are some links (that link, at least as I'm writing this, to the pages with the more readable "unfixed" layout, with a nice navigation on the left.) I've used several of these as prompts here over the years.

Right brain writing prompts:
Word Games with Serendipity

Story Starters for Writers

Great Sentence Creators

Who/What/When/Where Game

Visual Sparks for Writers

Right-Brained Poetry Prompts

Alliterative Sparks for Writers

Miscellaneous Right-Brained Writing Prompts
Left brain writing prompts:
Start and Stop Game

Imitating Written Structures

Step-by-Step Mini Writers' Workshops

List Writes

Playing with Language

Structured Paragraphs

Left-Brained Poetry Prompts

Sausage Sentences (old prompt but "new improved" page layout)
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