Novelists, like other creative sorts of people, are notoriously right brained. Which generally means, depending on who you talk to and their point of view, a little (completely!) impractical. Regina Morris, by contrast, came to novel writing from a maths and science background and learned how to use right brain creativity for her stories in the face of tolerant cynicism from friends and family. And at the same time she indulges herself in the kind of maths that most of us writers never even consider.
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How To Use Right Brain Creativity from a Left Brain Background
It is said there are left brained people and right brained people. If you like science and math, you’re left brained. If music and art is your strength, then you belong to the right brained camp. But, it isn’t so clear-cut. Plenty of individuals will claim one sided dominance, but still show a favoring to the other.
So what do you do if you’re left brained but dream of being a writer? First, you need to convince everyone that you are serious, because they probably won’t believe you.
Secondly, you need to wrap your mind around the written word and write a novel. That’s hard enough as it is, but us left brained thinkers have spent our formal years in math classes and avoiding literary classes. We even tend to drift to our math and logic skills when we write. At least, that’s what I did.
I have written four novels, have worked in the IT industry for 25 years, and have a degree in computer science and math. As opposed as this concept is, it is the truth. And, no one believed me when I told them I was going to write a novel, let alone four of them thus far. I makes it hard to ask family and friends to read your book when they can't believe you wrote it, or that the novel could possibly be any good because you were 'never really that into books and writing' as a kid.
I know I can’t be the only self-proclaimed nerd in the heard of writers.
I know I also can't be the only woman in her forties who has decided to undergo a career change.
Of course, the careers will always overlap.
How many words per page? How many pages are there in a 100,000 word novel if the trim size is 5”x8” with a .75” margin? How much does it cost per word for editing if my book is 87,000 words? If I ask a professional reviewer to critique my book, and she posts it on Facebook to 2000 people, with a return of .001% buying my book ... what is the return if I ask 50 reviewers to review it, knowing only 60% of them will say yes?
While I find the math fun (yes, I really do), I enjoy the writing so much more.
Left Brained Approach to Writing
My approach to writing is different from what I’ve seen with other writers.
Four years ago I looked at three stacks of books on my table. The large stack, which was toppling over, was the books I loved, have read multiple times, and would recommend to anyone with a pulse. The small stack was filled with books that I enjoyed, but would never read again. The two books in the last stack were the books I couldn’t finish. Being the logical thinker I am, I had to distill down the qualities of all three stacks and find out what the differences were.
And, I had fun doing that.
I discovered that, for me, I enjoyed books with certain key elements. I’m an avid reader of paranormal romances and that is what I write. For this genre, there were five key elements that I enjoyed reading in my personal library. While looking through my large stack of books, at least four of the five elements were present. The small list of books had two or three of the elements, and the books I couldn’t finish had two or fewer.
It was analytical, and it was good!
The five key elements were:
- The vampires work in a group, and there is a reason for them to be together (like working for the same company, family, etc).
- They do not have to hunt for blood. Nobody wants to read about a starving vampire who doesn't know where his next meal is coming from.
- The vampires have money. Being immortal and broke is not a good situation.
- The vampires have some type of enemy to fight. You never want vampires walking around being bored.
- There is some sort of ruling body that governs the vampires. Otherwise, they'd have free reign over the entire human population.
So I set down to write my first book with all five of the key elements. And you must have guessed this by now, I outlined the bejeezers out of it and did it in a logical fashion. My right-brained writing buddies cringed, but hey, it was my novel and I wrote it my way.
Would it have been easier to be a right-brained thinker and write my novels? I don’t have enough data to analyze this, but my hypothesis would be "heck yes."
Could I have mis-diagnosed myself and I’m really a right-brained person? Maybe I’m a latent right-brainer and never knew it?
I’m not sure.
Perhaps I’m middle-brained.
I think the hardest aspect of my writing has been getting my friends and family to believe that I am a serious writer. Even when they see my Amazon author page and read my reviews, they still are in disbelief. What hurts the most, is what they're really surprised at is that the reviews are good! Like a left-brained thinker couldn't put together a novel worth reading.
Maybe there is a support group I could join for being a lefty in a righty profession. Of course, I’d want to find a few groups, make a list of pros and cons for each one, and join the one that I could somehow characterize as being the best one. But, it seems like a lot of work. :-\
I think I'd rather just keep writing.
Regina is the author of The Colony Series, which you can find on Amazon though her Author Page.
Regina has certainly let us know how to use right brain creativity in an analytical way! Give her your feedback in the comments below.