Carroll Dale Short

• Writing Tips •

HOW TO WRITE AND PLAY AT THE SAME TIME

“Hey, what do you think you're doing? Stop that working, and get to play!”

Here's a pop quiz:

How many times during your life have your parents, teachers, and employers said those same words to you?

I thought not. It was always the exact opposite, wasn't it?

So, it's no wonder that whenever we sit down to write something we flex our shoulder muscles and jaw muscles and our sense of dread and go about it as though we're toting that barge and lifting that bale. No playing aloud! Er...allowed.

And that's a shame.

Because that clenched, “damn the torpedoes” mindset immediately shuts down the precise half of our brain that knows how to write a hundred times better than our other, barge-toting, bale-lifting, torpedo-damning side.

This has been proven scientifically.

In general, the left half of our brain is devoted to “literal reasoning”...such as reading your company's organizational chart and figuring out who gets to fire you if you don't finish this writing project on time.

The right half of your brain is devoted to (ta-dah!) actually having imagination, new ideas, and stringing language together on the fly, via hook or crook, so as to engage a reader/listener of what you're writing.

No, it's not fair. But it's the ultimate Catch 22 for anyone who writes narrative prose—either for an income, or for satisfaction, or for both of the above.

How to get out of that trap?

There are two authors who have written, to my mind, the ultimate how-to guides about learning to write narrative with the “good” half of your brain rather than the “bad” half, and I hope you'll check them out:

- “Bird By Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life,” by Anne Lamott (1994)
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- “Becoming a Writer,” by Dorothea Brande (1934)

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