Writing with your whole brain

img_5533You are risking everything reading this. And with these five words…even more. Because in these few seconds you have spread open the lobes of your brain and welcomed me in. How can I ever honour such a gift of time, of self, when the worlds I write could betray you so easily with a slip of continuity, a forced metaphor, a character left hollow by my impatience for your praise…

If I want to light up your whole brain and bring you into a new world-one you can taste and trust-shouldn’t I write with the whole of my own? Personally, if I can’t feel it, I won’t write it, because my time is as precious as yours.

If you are writer who can type straight from your gut, I applaud you-actually I’m a bit jealous. Many gifted writers can get their whole brain/being to sing through this interface. But I still need to dig in and get my fingers wet with my story, eat what they’re eating and smell the ink on the page. I need to talk to my characters; but more importantly, I need to listen. And so I draw them (quite literally) and let their lines, imperfect, shape the words. A character has a square jaw because somewhere deeper than my hand has known him for years. A word pressed into the sand tells me what to emphasize. Even today’s West Coast sea air works its way into the story.

There is something magical in the sheer tactile joy of creation, and the vibrations of reading my words out loud as I commit them to the page. The emotion of a scene comes to the surface in the spacing and attitude (cough cough legibility) of my handwriting. I listen, because the story is always running, humming, in my subconscious mind. I’ve learned to embrace this whole brain dialogue, because to be frank, my “rational” mind is all too eager to dominate the conversation. And seriously, she’s not where you and I would want to play.

A story is an invitation, and every invitation is a risk. Why give days, months, even years of our whole being to a place we know we can never make perfect? Our characters and plot are all too ready to reject us if we can’t connect the dots-well before they ever reach a reader’s eyes. This danger hangs low as fear and I haggle with it when I come to the screen, editing the nitty gritty of form and function so you can trust my words, my worlds.

I love a man. He isn’t perfect (don’t tell him I said that!), but he is my world. I can’t sell everyone on our love story-gawd knows I’ve tried-but I can do my best to live it. And this is the freedom of a scribbled page. It doesn’t matter if it fails (the novel not the marriage!!!). Because when we write with our whole brain, and by extension body, we are fully present. Every breath lived in our stories becomes a world as full, as real, and as worthy as our own.

4 thoughts on “Writing with your whole brain

  1. Bravo….as a writer, your words are spot on, Cymbria! Thank you for your invitation! It’s a risk I gladly take each time Blank Canvas arrives in my email! Happy writing!

  2. Great post – and too true! We have to write with the whole brain and the whole body. In a sense, writers never stop writing – the mind is at work, and the body informs the mind at odd moments, like when out walking and an idea floats in, unexpected but not unwelcome. It’s true for non-fiction too – all of it manifestation of an author’s self, one way or another.

    • Mmmm all so true and I love the last line! Really brings the truth home. Also, walking is such a common theme with writers throughout history that I wonder if there’s a specific brain process happening with the combo of rhythm, extra circulation, and gentle sensory stimulation? But then…would knowing take the magic away?

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