Week 6. More on the right brain

by Jean Knighton-Fitt

Much is said these days, in creative circles, about right brain and left brain. Both come into play during a writing project, and it’s important to know how to allow now one now the other to be in control. It’s not that one is creative and the other not; rather that they are creative in different ways and must be trained to work in harmony, not interfere with each other.
Our right or artist brain is our ‘inner child’, instinctive, spontaneous and body-centred, far less inhibited than the left, rooted deep in the subconscious from which ideas bubble up.

It is associative and freewheeling, and links images together to make new meanings … like ‘Earth Maker’ or ‘the Shaper’ for God.

It appreciates metaphors – for example calls choppy, white-tipped waves ‘white horses’. It appreciates and thinks in patterns, shapes and shadings. It is willing to try new connections, to play with what seems like a good idea, to attempt new ways of filling in what is missing.

It thinks in personifications and metaphors … sees the sunset sky as an artist’s canvas with sweeping brush-strokes; imagines the wind as a giant blowing onto the earth, and thunder as moving-day upstairs in the heavens.

Right brain is responsible for our ‘first thoughts’ on things – those that immediately attract us or make us afraid; those sudden ideas or suggestions that we quickly override by saying “On second thoughts…”

Day 1: In your mind see a giraffe, a mouse and a lion. Cut off their heads and necks and attach them to different bodies: e.g a lion head on a giraffe. Now make a rough drawing of each of these ‘new’ animals and in ten words describe the character and personality of each.
Day 2: When you say: “He was as cunning as a fox” you are using a figure of speech called a simile. Find or make up five interesting examples of similes.
Day 3: What would you do if you had no screw-driver but urgently needed to put in a screw? Or if the petrol attendant had forgotten to replace your oil cap and 20k later you suddenly saw oil splatters on the windscreen? Describe a time when you found yourself in such a predicament and had to get around the problem in some creative way.
Day 4: List five ‘childish’ or ‘child –like’ things you would love to feel free to do but are too shy to allow yourself to do now that you are ‘grown up’. If you can’t think of five such inhibitions list a few behaviours that would probably be quite good for you to do for fun.
Day 5: Make a list of five places you could go to to have a fun- break for an hour or two – places you are usually too busy to go to but that would fill your eyes with new images, or your ears with fresh sounds.
Day 6: List ten things you would like to have or to do, or changes you would like to make … that you put off because of more urgent jobs.
Day 7: Do something different – and then describe it in writing.