Hey Writer, Do You Make the Best Use of Your Brain?

by John Soares on May 8, 2013

As a freelance writer, you need to use your right brain for creativity and your left brain for productivity and task completion.

But since I’m a science guy, we have to address the fact that…

The Right Brain/Left Brain Dichotomy Is Not Exact

The popular conception of the right brain/left brain split depicted in the infographic below and believed by many people is not scientifically accurate: many parts of the brain are involved in most functions.

However, the overall concept of different functions of our brain that need to be integrated for peak productivity of high quality work is a very useful.

So accept the general concept of the need for both creativity and logic/organization as you look at this cool infographic…

A freelance writer's right brain

A freelance writer's left brain(Thanks to talented cartoonist Bryant Arnold and CartoonADay.com.)

My Left Brain and Right Brain

I’m much more in my “left brain.” That’s probably why I was a science major as an undergrad: first engineering and eventually a bachelor’s in biochemistry. It’s probably also why I’m a higher education freelance writer and display some introvert tendencies.

So my challenge is boosting my creative “right brain” and then integrating that activity with my analytical “left brain.”Here’s what I do now:

  • I tune in to my intuition much more often.
  • I write haiku, which increases my creativity.
  • I walk and hike frequently.
  • I live a simpler life, which leaves more room for creativity.
  • I do far more things to stimulate all my senses, including engaging in many of the political, cultural, and artistic activities in my new home of Ashland, Oregon and spending much more time with my partner Stephanie and my friends and family.

The Reality: Freelance Writers Need Both Sides of the Brain

We definitely need to tap into the freewheeling idea-generating right side of our brains, but we also need the analysis and discipline that comes from the left side of our brains.

Your Take

As a freelance writer, how well do you integrate your right brain and your left brain — your creative/artistic side and your logical/practical side?

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    { 16 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Graham Strong May 8, 2013 at 5:40 AM

    Twitter: @grahamstrong

    “We definitely need to tap into the freewheeling idea-generating right side of our brains, but we also need the analysis and discipline that comes from the left side of our brains.”

    I guess that makes us ambibrainious…

    I’ve always seen the left brain/right brain thing more as a metaphor. But it’s true — you definitely need both sides to function as a writer, or at least a paid writer. Maybe it’s like a hot and cold tap. Sometimes you need the hot, wild ideas to freeflow. Then, in later drafts, you need to cool them down and solidify them into something that makes sense to other people.

    ~Graham
    Graham Strong recently posted…The Edits

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    2 John Soares May 8, 2013 at 7:09 AM

    Graham, I really like your analogy of hot and cold water taps. Thanks for sharing that!
    John Soares recently posted…Top 10 Ways to Be a More Productive Freelance Writer

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    3 sandra tyler May 8, 2013 at 7:10 AM

    Twitter: @woventale

    interesting! Always did hear about this with drawing…
    sandra tyler recently posted…Tale Tues: Dr. Hulking and Fish Eyes

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    4 John Soares May 8, 2013 at 7:12 AM

    It applies in many, many areas Sandra, but it is definitely applicable to art.
    John Soares recently posted…My Main Goal in Six Words

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    5 Nida Sea May 8, 2013 at 7:20 AM

    Twitter: @nidasea

    I didn’t know that the right brain/left brain dichotomy wasn’t exact. It makes sense because we can’t utilize every aspect of our brains quite yet, if ever.

    I use the left and right brain about the same. But, I feel like my right brain overpowers me because I can’t stop doing character/plot development and chapters in my head. Whenever I have a moment that doesn’t require logical thinking, my right brain sweeps me away to my fantasy novel stories. Great post!
    Nida Sea recently posted…How Not To Contribute To a Monthly Savings (And How I blew $12,000 in One Month)

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    6 John Soares May 8, 2013 at 8:54 AM

    Nida, I think letting your “right brain” take over when you’re working with character and plot development is very important. You’ll just eventually need to use your “left brain” to make sure that the character and plot ideas make good sense.
    John Soares recently posted…Your Ideal Freelance Writer Home Office

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    7 Jack Ori May 8, 2013 at 7:37 AM

    Twitter: @ftmcoachjack

    I am VERY right brained. However, I’m learning to be organized. I think it’s a matter of seeing organization as a value rather than something that’s been imposed on me.

    That’s why seeing it as a right-brain left-brain split is unhelpful. It’s important to realize that whatever your non-dominant qualities are, they are still part of you and can be used for greater success, rather than being something forced on you that is “not you.”
    Jack Ori recently posted…Are You Attracted to Heartache?

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    8 John Soares May 8, 2013 at 8:42 AM

    Thanks for sharing your perspective Jack. I think if we are strong in one area, we should recognize that and encourage it while also developing important aspects of the other area.
    John Soares recently posted…How Being Late Hurts Your Freelance Writing Career and Your Life

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    9 Cathy Miller May 8, 2013 at 7:53 AM

    Twitter: @millercathy

    I revel in my right-brain creativity.

    The interesting thing (that I would love to hear your scientific take on) was for a good part of my corporate career, I felt my need for my left brain activity (Excel spreadsheets in insurance premiums, claims experience, etc.) was sitting on my right brain need for creativity. I think it played a big role in why I was unhappy with my chosen path. I didn’t allow a channel for the right brain to flow like I wanted & needed.

    Throughout my career, I used my creative side to write for my industry. Just not enough to make me happy. I am glad I have my left brain strengths – such as they are. It helps serve the business side of freelancing. But, I am so thrilled my right side can now breathe. :-)
    Cathy Miller recently posted…Can the Business Writing Purist and Texist Get Along?

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    10 John Soares May 8, 2013 at 8:52 AM

    Thanks for sharing your story Cathy. I also feel a need for more creativity in my life. I’m expressing that through the creation of products for freelance writers that I’ll be releasing over the next year.
    John Soares recently posted…Profitable Freelance Writing for Nonprofits

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    11 Anne Wayman May 8, 2013 at 2:53 PM

    Twitter: @annewayman

    I’ve been glad that science is showing us right/left isn’t cut and dried – of course I’d like that!

    I’ve always felt the act of touch typing or any typing with two hands was probably an integrative activity… meditation seems to release both sides of my brain for creativity probably because it helps me off the usual stories I tell myself.

    Doing handbuilding with clay is another art I like.. playing in the mud – both hands, all down my apron and often dripping on my shoes ;)
    Anne Wayman recently posted…Of Writing Plans, Schedules, Changes & Interruptions

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    12 John Soares May 8, 2013 at 3:37 PM

    Anne, I’ve started meditating some mornings after I do stretching exercises. I find it helps both my creativity and my organization.
    John Soares recently posted…Top 10 Ways to Be a More Productive Freelance Writer

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    13 Edna May 8, 2013 at 3:50 PM

    Thanks for the post John. Great graphics!
    I’m quite right brained too and always felt rather stifled when I tried to work in a corporate setting doing all left brain stuff all day.
    I’m more organized these days so I’m more productive and I work out alot which lets my mind slow down and regroup. I also ride horses and compete at horse shows which is very sensory and visual, helps me get a bit more balanced. I need to do more meditation but I haven’t made that a habit yet.

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    14 John Soares May 9, 2013 at 6:44 AM

    Edna, I also get a lot of physical exercise. I find, like you, that it really helps my brain relax and get to a more productive state.
    John Soares recently posted…Profitable Freelance Writing for Nonprofits

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    15 mike milson May 12, 2013 at 7:00 PM

    I use the left and right brain about the same. But, I feel like my right brain overpowers me because I can’t stop doing character/plot development and chapters in my head. If you have a subscription system, please add me in – hotxperience@windowslive.com

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    16 John Soares May 12, 2013 at 8:24 PM

    Mike, you can sign up for all blog updates in the blue box in the sidebar.
    John Soares recently posted…What Music Do You Listen to When You Write?

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