Tag Archives: novel writing

Guest Post: Writing a Novel with your Left Brain vs. Right Brain

left-right brain (Natasha)I’m a pretty solid left-brainer. I’m organized. Not to a compulsive degree, but close enough. I like things in the right places, dishes in the dishwasher, papers filed, pillows fluffed. My three kids’ diverse daily schedules are color-coded on my iPhone. I’m a slave to the clock.

So you’d think my left-brain would prevail even when it comes to the normally right-brain task of creative writing. You’d think I would break the seal on a fresh package of colored index cards, or open a blank document on my MacBook, and then begin outlining my novel in an orderly fashion – chapter-by-chapter, scene-by-scene. Wouldn’t you think that? Me too.

But no. When I begin a novel, my left-brain hightails it. It cowers in the shadows, horrified, as ideas come in no particular order, in scattered bits and pieces – a mood, a setting, a moment, a fragment of dialogue. After much kicking, screaming and self-loathing over this disorganized plot-less thing, a well-meaning critique partner might gently suggest that I focus on creating an outline or a story map. Then there’s more kicking, screaming and agony.

But, it eventually happens. My brain – left and right – pulls all the pieces together – the characters, the plot and subplots – and the novel goes where it needs to go. Not in the first draft, certainly, but eventually. This is the inefficient, frustrating, miraculous process that somehow works for me.

So my goal as I trudge through the current torture of this novel-in-progress, is to remind myself to trust my own process. I have to allow the right-brain ideas to swirl in an uncomfortably messy chaotic mush for a while. My left-brain can’t force the ideas into their proper places until the right-brain is ready to give over some control. Though painful, this process will get a novel written. Maybe it’ll even be my best one yet.

What about you? Do you fall in the right- or left-brain camp?

*According to the left-brain, right-brain dominance theory, the left side of the brain is considered to be adept at tasks that involve logic and analytical thinking, while the right side is best at expressive and creative tasks. Researchers have debunked the theory, but, for this post, let’s just believe.

Natasha SinelNatasha Sinel is a writer of young adult fiction, represented by Linda Epstein. She lives in Bedford Corners, NY with her husband and three male children. When she’s not writing, she can be found muttering expletives while wiping off toilet seats and bathroom floors. She’s pretty sure that if she were male, she’d figure out how to do the whole thing right.

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GUEST POST: When Writing Your Second Novel

MacBook_Air_13-inch_35330106_01_620x433A little bit of pillow talk…

I’m onto you. Registering for writing workshops online, your fingers sticky with candy. Teen Mom 2 on my LED-backlit display instead of words, your words. All the signs are there.

You’re afraid of your second novel.

There was something between us once, back when you were writing your first. You used to turn me on in the morning—before a shower, before cereal—and we would escape into the story. It was all fun and fantasy; there was no pressure but the weight of your imagination and fingertips.

I was with you through it all: the early drafts you swore were awful, the rejections, the never-ending revisions. And I was there for the good stuff, too, like when you landed an agent. Do you remember? My exclamation mark was on fire for you that day.

But then reality kicked in. The submission process was long and hard, and you’re not a patient person by nature. I can tell by the pace of your typing, the impulsiveness of your online shopping.

You let the doubt creep in; I know it. You’re afraid of giving your heart to a second story without feeling secure about the first. And you’re terrified of the time, the years that you’ll be investing in another novel that may never… that may never ever…

But enough is enough. You may not have a deal for your first book yet, but come on! You’re acting like a contract is a permission slip to write another!

Sigh.

 I’m sorry; I got carried away. It’s just that, well, I miss you. I miss the feel of your touch against my sensitive keys, the way you hit “return” like you mean it. And I know you miss me, too.

You need to start writing again. Do it for us, for those early mornings when it was just you, me and coffee. You were always so careful not to spill. Don’t think I didn’t notice.

So sit down, here, at your desk. I’m powered up and ready.

I’ll even give you two minutes to watch the squirrels out the window. Look at them racing through the pines, leaping from branch to branch. You can be that free, too. Just put your hands on me, run your fingers over my keys, and write write write…Emily Saso

Emily Saso is a copywriter working hard to become a novelist. She lives, reads and writes in Toronto, Canada. 

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Yes. You were talking too much.

I was out for a post-dinner drink at a local bar with boyfriend and another couple a few days ago (don’t worry, boyfriend=husband) and a drunk Lauren Bacall accosted me. Ok, it wasn’t really Lauren Bacall, but she was beautiful in an unconventional way, had those same kind of sleepy, bedroom eyes, a smoker’s (or probably ex-smoker’s) voice and there was something very 40’s about her. Well, Ms. Bacall proceeded to tell me her entire life story as my evil friend found a way to fade into the background and our men laughed, drank beer and watched the large-screen tv, as married men do in bars.

She started with her first husband, the gambler, and went into the divorce and being a single mother and… I was trapped. And I don’t like being rude (in that way), so I listened and nodded and smiled and laughed and said oh! at all the appropriate parts. And then she leaned in, just a tinch too close and said, “Am I talking too much?” As she tilted slightly to her left and gripped the cocktail table to steady herself I could smell the chardonnay on her breath. “Oh, no,” I said, “it’s ok.” So she kept on. Why did I say that? What was wrong with me? And then she told me about her second husband, and how he died in his sleep shortly after they got married, and how she woke up to him dead in the bed. “Oh gosh,” I think I said. Gosh? I said gosh? So she kept going.

By now my friends and husband were giggling at me, and my deer-in-the-headlights situation. Those fuckers. “I’m talking too much. Am I talking too much?” she asked again. Was there a right answer here? Could I have said “Yes. Yes you are. You’re talking too much. Too much information. Gotta go!”? No. I just couldn’t say that. So she went on. And on. Twice more she checked in with me, each time leaning just a bit too close. I heard about the sons and their private schools, the house in Boca, the lost silver bracelet, how we’re all on a journey, the found silver bracelet, interior design, and finally the new fiancee (at the bar) and the (huge) rock on her finger. Mazel tov, Lauren Bacall! Boyfriend finally rescued me. Lauren Bacall almost hugged me goodbye but I tilted away from her as I said how nice it had been to meet her.

And it was. But too much information is still too much information, even when it’s Chardonnay induced.

Do you know people who cross boundaries of personal space or give out too much information? Do you do that when you write? Do I?

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