The Fight Between Left and Right

{White flag. iPhone photo taken while hiking on Mariner’s Ridge in Hawaii.}

What’s one of the hardest battles you’ll fight as a writer?

The battle within yourself.

Working on an article recently, I found myself on the front lines defending my creative prose with an ardent editor. Unforgiving and rigid, she was on task to cut away my unnecessary words and fluffy copy for something more streamlined. It was a hard battle lost my friends. All the more so because that editor was me.

Every writer has two sides of their brain that battles for attention. My right brain is the more feisty one relentlessly slipping in creative allegories for fun. It’s my left brain that has to follow closely behind like a parent of a 2-year-old, afraid of what trouble he or she’s going to get into next.

It’s an exhausting feat. If I don’t give her free reign to self-expression, my work comes back bulky, incomprehensible, and childlike. At the same time, if she’s dormant, my writing can seem dull, forced and tense. It’s an ongoing balance that needs to be met.┬áThis is accomplished only if I spend adequate amounts of time free writing, painting or partaking in any unedited artistic expression. It’s the part of me that likes to make up phrases like “crud of the crop,” or paint with wild abandon. These tasks hold just as much value as creating an outline or transcribing a piece. I need to appease both sides in order to write anything worthy of publication.

It’s always an exhausting feat this writing stuff. But I’ve learned a few ways to make it easier. Writing freely in my first draft, for example, helps. My husband calls this my “throwing up” process. It’s an ugly read so he often asks to stay out of it. This is time for my right brain to get it all in, every creative word, phrase and analogy. On another day, my task oriented left brain rolls her eyes and has fun holding down the delete button. There will be many many more edits after that. But if I can soothe my right brain by keeping old prose that doesn’t work “for another time,” then it’s a lot easier to cut.

In the end, it’s a battle won by both. The most successful pieces incorporates creativity and is concise. It’s always a challenge because truthfully I have an affinity for my right side.

I’m wondering how often you have trouble with this too. Is your right or left brain more dominant when you write?