Left Brain, Right Brain

Many of my writer friends have confessed that they edit while writing. This is bad. Very bad!

Writing and editing are both very important. They should be done sequentially and not simultaneously. Resist the urge to edit as you write.

But why? I’ve edited as I go for years now. 

It comes down to left brain, right brain.

LEFT BRAIN                                    RIGHT BRAIN

detail oriented                                                                   big picture oriented

facts rule                                                                               imagination rules

present and past                                                                present and future

math and science                                                              philosophy and religion

reason                                                                                   faith

knowledge                                                                            intuition

acknowledgment                                                              appreciation

order perception                                                               spatial perception

forms strategies                                                                 presents possibilities

practical                                                                                  impetuous

safe                                                                                             risk-taking

Editing is a left brain function.  Depending on the analytical mind,  tapping that sense of order, words, language, details, reason, logistics ( math and science).

Writing is a right brain function. Depending on imagination, symbolism, philosophy, intuition, spatial ideas, possibilities –  what if – and risk taking.

If the writer tries to edit while writing, they are using different parts of their gray matter.  It’s not impossible, but  you will be more efficient at either function if you are focused on one or the other, not trying to go back and forth between the two.

Another factor that comes into play is your natural body clock –  are you a morning person or a night owl?  I am up bright and early every morning but I am not a morning person. The world operates on a daytime schedule.  I’m naturally a night owl. I am the most alert and creative  after 3 pm. Day time schedules demand coffee. Lots of coffee.

It’s nothing for me to stay up until 3 am because I got a brilliant idea for a story and  started typing away, zoning out, losing track of time and by the time I come up for air, the house is dark, everyone has gone to bed and left me  in my zone.

This is when I do my best creative writing. Not at 3 am necessarily, but on the night shift. I can function in the morning,  but my imagination hasn’t awakened yet. In the mornings is when I do my best at editing. It taps the logical, reasoning parts, and the grammar nazi is alert.

For me, editing works best in the morning. Whether it’s my own work or that of someone else, I am able to see the fine details that need to be brought out. I can see the tense problems, the pronoun overage, and the comma vomit.

(Just so you know that I am not feeling über  empowered by trashing some other authors work,  I’m just as guilty of this.  My first draft often looks like something a junior high kid on a sugar high thought of. Instead of comma vomit,  I need to buy a few. Over usage of semi-colons –  omg how did those get in there? I don’t remember writing those. I have yet to read an author’s work that compares to moi- the pronoun queen.  In one chapter I had she  used six times, with  4 women  in the scene. My alpha reader sent it back –  which she are you referring to here? and here? and here? Names hon,  use names.  This is confusing.)

Another aspect is our personalities. A good place to start is one of the online personality profile tests like the one at 16Personalities. Work on your weaknesses, build on your strengths  and learn what works for you.

I’m an ENFP – the Campaigner. Enthusiastic,creative and sociable free spirits,who can always find a reason to smile. Yep, that’s me.

I believe most of us want to improve our writing and be masters in our craft, not just dabblers.  In order to do so, we need to continue to learn. We need to  make the most of who we are,  how we are wired, and get the highest level of productivity out that we can.

  1. Decide your natural body clock – morning/night
  2. Decide which role fits where – writing/editing
  3. Work with our natural style – strengths/weaknesses
  4. Conquer the world – be the best YOU that you can be!
  5. Realize that you aren’t in competition with anyone else, only yourself.

Live it – Own It – Love it!







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