How many of you got an A in Daydreaming when you were a kid? I think most writers did. A healthy dose of imagination is vital to writing fiction.
Your brain has two sides. The left brain is credited with being Logical, which has little to do with imagination and daydreaming. It has to do with rationality and math. We writers need our left brains even though it’s not the fun side. It helps us form sentences other people can understand. It’s the part that analyzes our writing and tells us whether the story has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
Sometimes we give too much power to our Left Brain, letting it dictate where the characters will go–only logical places. What they will say–only rational things. Where our punctuation will go–only where Mrs. Brown said it should go when we learned about it in fourth grade. The left brain is sometimes credited with being the Inner Critic. Every word you type, the Inner Critic is leaning over your shoulder, asking if you really meant to write it exactly like that. Surely there’s a better way; if you only let him at the page, he’ll clean it up for you.
The problem is that our Left Brains were all trained in the same school. They don’t leave room for individuality, spontaneity, creativity. Sometimes you have to turn off the left brain and work with your right brain.
Some people don’t have any trouble doing this–it’s often the pantsers in our midst. Others struggle to open up Pandora’s Box and see what escapes. It might be messy. It might not make sense. It might not fit into a publisher’s box.
The right brain is the WRITE brain. It thinks in music and dance and poetry and images and patterns. It thinks in fragrances and whispers and silk caressing your skin. It does not care one iota about logic. It is an awesome place to play. In fact, it’s where your unique writer’s voice comes from.
This is your Muse.
- Right brain, left brain. Why should a writer care? click to tweet
- Did you get an A in Daydreaming when you were a kid? Learn how to USE that skill for writing: click to tweet
Mind mapping is a powerful technique that gives both plotters and pantsers the freedom to roam the infinite expanse of your minds, gaining unexpected ideas and associations. The technique is worth pursuing because it engages the right side of your brain, aka the muse, which likes to come out and play in unstructured environments. Learn to set logic aside temporarily while researching and outlining, thus seeking out unique relationships between your ideas.
It’s hard because your teachers have been training you to be more logical since you were children. You’ve been taught to be orderly and tidy. It seems foolish and regressive to seek out playfulness.
As writers, tapping into your right brain, your muse, is vital for you to find your unique voice and your unique stories.
Some people find it easier than others to give their imaginations free rein. Getting away from the desk sometimes helps. Going to the museum, playing an instrument, or pulling out your oil paints might be ways you can spend time in you Muse’s territory. It may well overflow into your writing time.
Sometimes, though, you have to go purposefully into your Muse’s territory and unlock the gates.
How do you do that? One method is mind mapping your muse.
Image courtesy of thawats at FreeDigitalPhotos.net