March 28, 2012

Right Brain, Write Brain

Have you ever seen this animated image of the silhouette of a dancer? She turns in either a clockwise or counterclockwise direction. The idea is that your personal right- or left-brain dominance determines the direction you see her spinning.

If she is turning clockwise (to the right), then you are likely to be right-brain dominant, and vice versa.

It's hardly scientific or absolute, but it is an interesting way to enter a discussion on whether right and left brain dominance affects how we learn. (See my earlier post on that side of the topic.) I have had students tell me that they were able to make the dancer change directions. What does that mean?

If you are writing or plan to be a writer, would it be better to be right or left-brained?

According to the popular interpretation of this brain research, the right brain is the feeling side, where imagination rules. It is where symbols and imagery are deciphered and the side that believes, appreciates, and presents possibilities. Fantasy, philosophy, and religion are here and it seems to be the right place for fiction writers and poets.

But don't dismiss the left brain which is seen as the logical side. In this hemisphere of details and facts is also the land of words and language, order and pattern.

It is popular to view the left hemisphere as the domain of mathematicians and scientists, but writers are pretty dependent on facts and getting details down. And you can't always rely on the spelling and grammar checker or an editor to fix your grammar and punctuation.

So, which is more important? Obviously, good writers - especially in an academic setting - need the right and left side of the brain to write in most genres.

Can we develop the less dominant side of our brains to become better writers? Should the right-brained poet work on left-brained activities and writing prompts?

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