Implementing Creativity

In the popular, but simplistic right-brain, left brain dominance theory, the right brain is best at expressive and creative tasks while the left brain is best in areas of language and logic. Could this be a problem for writers? You bet. Fortunately, we are able to access both sides concurrently and writers need that in order to use language creatively.


Creativity in writing is highly personal and annoyingly elusive. It seems to effectively sidestep a frontal approach. In other words, the more intensely you focus on being creative, the less you are. Creativity arrives from the side, much like peripheral vision; turn your head and the shadow is gone.


But creativity can be coaxed out of hiding. I write fantasy novels for pre-teens because I enjoy the process of creating worlds, characters, obstacles and resolutions. Not only does creativity exist on the level of plotline, it’s in chapters, paragraphs, sentences and even word usage. What fun! But what if a character confuses you?  What can you do if the plot line for the story stops and you don’t know where it’s going? Is this writer’s block?


I claim it is not. It is an important part of the process. I know what’s missing will reveal itself if I let it. Ray Bradbury said these problems go to ground in the unconscious where they process and ultimately give up their resolutions (my paraphrasing). He’s right. I step away from direct action. Yes, it’s hard to do, but I do it. I walk our road, cut wood for the winter, or sit on the deck swing with coffee and a muffin. I do something physical away from the story. Sometimes I take an alternate tack, extract an outline from the finished chapters, track character arcs, or create a synopsis. Of course the outline and synopsis will be wrong, but they will both give me a view of my work from a different perspective, from the side with my peripheral vision.


I said this was hard to do and it is. It’s hard to let chaos reign; it’s hard to deliberately live with confusion; it’s very hard for us type A, self-actualized, inner-directed writers to set our work aside and let our unconscious do its thing. But your work will be better for it.



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2 thoughts on “Implementing Creativity

  1. Your words are important ones to share with fellow writers. I call the breaks I take “my gestation time,” for when I don’t know where the story is going next, I need to let my brain take over the work of figuring it out, not my hands. I also need to shut down the scolding and admonitions of my left brain by distracting it with what it calls “real work,” so that my right brain can get on with the creative process without being hammered by the left.

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