The Write Side of the Brain

You’re likely aware of the observation how writing is ten percent inspiration and ninety percent perspiration.  But do you know how your brain works?

You probably know it’s roughly divided between two hemispheres, colloquially known as the right and left sides of the brain.  The right side is considered to be artistic.  It’s the hemisphere that folks who draw and play music rely upon.

The left side wants to get down to business.  It’s where language and math get processed.  And according to some mystics, there’s a fifth state of consciousness the brain can achieve (beyond active, relaxed, deep relaxation, and sleep) when new patterns of neural activity affect both hemispheres at the same time.

So when you write, you use the left side of your brain, right?

Not so fast.

Our lives are filled with irony, including the fact that studying mathematics helps musicians to play even better.  During a conversation with a fellow writer years ago, she and I agreed that we see images in our heads (which might be slightly better than hearing voices in our heads) and then use words to translate those images to readers.

Coming up with the right words is a left brain job.  Not only do the words need to be precise (use mumbled instead of said softly), they need to be in the right order (use Young and foolish, I thought the game would be easy, not Young and foolish, the game seemed easy to me).  And that’s just two of many rules.

Yet words can be strung together artistically.  Once upon a midnight dreary has more of a ring than It was a dark and stormy night.  Writing, ultimately, does involve the brain as a whole, with ideas bouncing back and forth between the two hemispheres.  That’s the perspiration part.

And so I wonder, during those ten percent moments of inspiration, have right and left come together in unison?  Do we enter a fifth state of consciousness when the words flow and come out right the first time?

That seems like a hard nut to crack….