Silencing Your Left Brain

I would venture to say that every writer, at one time or other, suffers from that ethereal ailment known as writer’s block. For me, it’s not so much an I don’t know what to write as an I don’t know what to write next, be it at the start of a project or mid-way through.

This happened to me recently. I’d written over 10,000 words on a new manuscripts and then, just like that, I stopped. Now, if I’d stopped for a few hours, a few days–or even a few weeks–I’d have just called it a break and wouldn’t be writing this post. But seeing as I stopped (or stalled) for over a year and it took a few things to kick start me again, I thought my journey forward might be of interest to other writers facing the same challenges.

For one thing–and due to very personal reasons–I’m always interested in brain function. I read a whole lot of articles and books and watch a variety of programs about the brain–what scientists know–what they don’t. So, there I was, pages and pages into a new story and I knew perfectly well how to move it forward only how I was moving forward was suddenly boring and cliche to me and I wanted to do something surprising and fresh and had no idea how to achieve this.

I stalled and stalled, procrastinated and stalled some more, until one day, I read an article about brain function–how things like creativity, imagination, and daydreaming are controlled by the right hemisphere which controls the left side of your body, and how the left hemisphere (which controls the right side of your body) is responsible for things like logic, numbers, lists etc.

Why was I stuck in my story? Why was I only able to move it forward in a boring linear sort of way? Because I was stuck in my left hemisphere. My right hemisphere had been silenced. My creativity stifled by my bullying left hemisphere.

Okay–you might say–great, makes sense. But how do you fix the problem? Well, it made logical sense to me (after all, I was stuck in my left/logical hemisphere) that what I needed to do was silence my left brain and let my right brain take over.

A quick search and I located a whole lot of practical ways to do this. Everything from using a timer to drawing your hand with your eyes closed. I did a bunch of these exercises each day and then one day, just like that, I came to an aha realizing. I wasn’t writing the right story! I needed to get rid of all the words I’d written, go back to the very beginning, and start again.

I can’t say for certain the exercises were what did the trick–but they sure helped. So if you, too, are begin bullied by your left brain–try this website, or this one, or draw your hand, or set a timer. Unchain your right hemisphere and let your imagination soar!