Being in the left, right…both?

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This isn’t a post about whether it is “better” to be right-brained or left-brained.  Or whether one is “left-brain dominant” or “right-brain dominant” (or if that even exists).  No, it’s about how to harness both sides of your brain.  How to move from one side to the other.  If you’re “stuck” in the left…how to move yourself into the right.  And most fun of all, it will include an empowering podcast visualization exercise at the end.

If you’re a writer, you’ll know what it’s like to feel stuck and disconnected from the more creative, free-flowing side of yourself.  If you’re not a writer…you probably still know how that feels (smile).  But as a wannabe writer who does get stuck more often then she’d like..I wanted to explore this further from the perspective of writing.

So, if you were to be asked“Which part of your brain do you use for writing?”, what would your answer be?  Would you say your left brain because that’s the side associated with language?  And writing is about language.  Or would you say your right brain because that’s the side associated with creativity?  Or would you would you say, What on earth are you talking about with this left-brain, right-brain garbage?!

Okay.  Let’s tackle that last one first.  Is it garbage?  No.  We do know that the human brain is divided into two hemispheres: left and right. Research has shown that some cognitive functions tend to be dominated by one side or the other.   But popular psychology has made some fairly broad generalizations about what the right brain does versus what the left brain does.  If I were to say the words logical, technical, details, fact, analytic, language, math…you’d probably think left brain.  If I say creative, holistic, intuitive, imagination, pattern recognition, divergent thinking, art appreciation, symbolism, feelings…you’d probably think right brain.

Okay…but what does that have to do with writing?  Well, writers are often told to get out of your left brain and into your right brain.  But wait a minute.  If you were to actually get all the way out of your left brain, you wouldn’t be able to write at all since it’s the left brain that produces language.  So isn’t it really a matter of knowing how to be in both?  Knowing how to flow from one to another?  Knowing how to not get stuck in one or the other?

Generally, you’re using your left brain when you’re digging for details, researching, analyzing, writing, editing.  When you’re tapping into your creative side and fantastical ideas are coming at you from all different directions and there is an outpouring of words without judgement…you’re in your right brain.  When you’re more fully in the right side, there is a free-flow of ideas without judgement.

Judgement.  That is the sword that the left brain can wield.  That little voice that tries to shut you down…to edit you while you write and stops the flow of ideas.  That is one of the reasons for looking at this whole right brain, left brain thing – to know when you need to be in one or the other.

Tapping into the right for that desire to write creatively and to have a free flow of ideas while keeping the inner critic from the left quiet.  Hushing the voice that is critiquing every word you write, stilting your writing and stopping the flow of ideas.  Instead, allowing every word to make it on paper – without judgement.  Getting into the zone where words flow and hours zip by.  Allowing the right side to play, have fun, imagine, explore.

And then, when it comes time to edit, to clean it up, to polish it, to analyze it…welcoming the left side back out again.

So, the next question is….do you know, when you have allowed yourself to be comfortably in your right brain (with the left side quiet)?  And do you know when you’re more in your left brain?  Have you asked to be there or has the left just bullied the right and shut it down?

Because knowing what it feels like to be in either side can be a first step in linking the two together more, so there is a free flow from one to another.   Knowing when your left is too dominant to allow the right to roam freely.  Knowing how to hush one so you can be in the other.  Being aware, so you can quiet the editor until the creative muse has had their turn to write freely.

So to put this to practice, I’d like to do a visualization exercise that taps into the power within you to flow freely between both, honoring  the gifts that each side has to offer.  When I did a “test run” of the exercise, some of the comments I received were:

“WOW!!! Powerful for me. I struggle as I am almost always in my Right side. I have a friend who is almost always in the Left. Maybe we will do this exercise together.”

“As I followed the visualization, I had enlightening revelations about my responses to the right/left brains – I want to LIVE in my imagination – what joy!  I also appreciated your respectful consideration of your audience.”

So, if you’d like to do the exercise, it will take 7:00 minutes.  Find a comfortable place.  Make sure the volume on your computer is turned up….and click on the play button on the recorder below when you are ready.

I’d love to  hear what the experience was like for you.   As well, if you’d like to do some more reading, below is a list of a few articles that I read before writing this post:

  • has some interesting articles, especially Carolyn Kaufman’s article called the .  They also had two articles about a Writer’s Inner Critic that were interesting (albeit less related to this post):  and .
  •  (an amazing website) has a great article by Cathy Hall called .
  • (Psychology) has an easy-to-read article by Kendra Cherry about understanding the myths and realities of left brain and right brain dominance ().
  • There are a number of different exercises out there that can help tap you into the right side of your brain.   and the book  are two examples.
  • has articles from different bloggers on the creative mindset and creativity boosts.

So…is there anything you’d like to share?

3 Responses to “Being in the left, right…both?”

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  1. Sheryl says:

    You truly hit on one my major stumbling blocks to becoming a writer. You have given me permission to cross over into the right side, without guilt, knowing the left-side will still be available when I need it to be.

    Truly inspirational for me.

    I’ll be back, often!

  2. Mark says:

    I found the left-right brain exercise relaxing and peaceful. I have a very mixed brain life and when I’m really in the right brain mode I feel peace. It’s a little like doing something that might seem impossible to the left brain, like balancing a spinning plate on a pencil. Once I’m there I don’t notice time passing and more things seem possible. Very nice article and great site. I’ll be checking back and spreading the word!


  1. says:

    [...] Mottl, MSW presents Being in the left, right… both? posted at Being Truly [...]

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