Writing Naturally

Have you ever found yourself stuck in​ your writing like a​ child on​ a​ rocking horse? Rocking back and forth,​ writing and editing,​ and wondering why your story doesn't take you anywhere?

As a​ writer for a​ local weekly newspaper,​ I couldn't afford the​ luxury of​ writing and editing. I just had to​ write and worry about editing later; there's something about a​ deadline that moves you along.

So how do you learn to​ move beyond the​ wooden horse,​ to​ the​ real horse,​ that story or​ article that will take you across vistas where the​ sun sets in​ marmalade skies and where the​ grass ripples like a​ green sea?

As a​ painter,​ I've learned the​ value of​ painting from the​ right side of​ your brain. the​ right brain paints what it​ sees,​ whereas the​ left paints what it​ thinks it​ should be. I wondered to​ myself if​ there were something for writers along these same lines. I discovered there was.

Our brains are divided into two hemispheres right and left and are joined by a​ strange piece of​ gray matter called the​ corpus collusum. the​ corpus collusum acts like a​ switching station. in​ right-brain driven individuals it​ tends to​ be larger. the​ right brain could be referred to​ as​ the​ feminine or​ creative side (the writer) whereas the​ left-brain (the editor) could be referred to​ as​ the​ male or​ logical side.

The left brain provides us with language,​ syntax,​ denotation,​ analytical thought,​ logic,​ math,​ etc. in​ the​ right brain,​ we​ discover creativity,​ patterns of​ sound,​ metaphor,​ ambiguities,​ and paradox.

In right-brain painting classes the​ teacher gets you to​ let go of​ the​ image of​ what you think you see,​ to​ seeing only what is​ there and consequently drawing it. This is​ done by taking a​ picture,​ placing it​ upside down,​ and covering up all but a​ little portion of​ the​ picture. You begin to​ draw only what you see on​ the​ page. as​ you move along,​ you uncover a​ little more of​ the​ picture as​ you draw. Practice this sometime to​ learn to​ free up your right brain.

You may be wondering - do you write upside down? No - you don't. According to​ Gabrielle Lusser Rico,​ author of​ the​ book Writing the​ Natural Way,​ "if you can speak,​ form letters on​ the​ page,​ know the​ rudiments of​ sentence structure,​ take a​ telephone message,​ or​ write a​ thank-you note,​ you have sufficient language skills to​ learn to​ write the​ natural way."

In her first chapter,​ "Releasing Your Inner Writer,​" Rico describes the​ two different hemispheres of​ the​ brain as​ "Sign and Design" Mind. She describes the​ interplay between the​ two hemispheres and lets us know that any good solid writing is​ collaboration between these two talents of​ the​ two hemispheres.

In her second chapter lay the​ real gems. Here's where we​ learn to​ "cluster" or​ "map" our creative thinking process. She calls clustering the​ "doorway to​ your design mind." the​ method she utilizes begins with a​ "nucleus word" or​ short phrase that "acts as​ the​ stimulus for recording all the​ associations that spring to​ mind in​ a​ very brief period of​ time."

You take your nucleus word or​ phrase and write it​ in​ the​ middle of​ a​ page,​ drawing a​ circle around it. Then you let yourself free associate. Every thought,​ feeling,​ or​ idea that comes from that word you write down in​ little bubbles away from that "nucleus word" but attached by a​ line. You keep going until you feel the​ shift in​ your mind to​ quit. You may have to​ do this several times before you recognize the​ feeling. It's ok - tell yourself it's just play.

She tells us that this methodology is​ not "merely the​ spilling of​ words and phrases at​ random,​ but something much more complex: for the​ Design mind,​ each association leads inexorably to​ the​ next with a​ logic of​ its own even though the​ Sign mind does not perceive the​ connection." This is​ learning to​ write from the​ creative side of​ your brain.

This methodology of​ clustering is​ like throwing a​ rock into a​ pond,​ it​ unfolds from the​ center,​ each ripple,​ or​ thought moving outward. After the​ completion of​ the​ clustering,​ (and you will learn to​ know when this occurs),​ you write a​ vignette,​ a​ poem,​ whatever strikes you,​ using the​ words from your clustering spider web and whatever else comes out of​ you.

What you'll find is​ an​ interesting piece,​ almost like poetry,​ with an​ undiscovered beauty emanating from within you. It's a​ very rewarding experience.

With enough practice,​ you won't even need to​ do the​ "clustering" approach,​ as​ you'll be able to​ feel the​ shift internally into that hemisphere of​ the​ brain,​ not unlike shifting into high gear.

Peter Elbow,​ the​ author of​ "Writing with Power" says,​ "When we​ were little we​ had no difficulty sounding the​ way we​ felt; thus most little children speak and write with real voice."

Read your writing aloud. Words are meant to​ be spoken aloud. When you hear it,​ you'll hear those places where it​ doesn't flow and you'll feel it. They'll stick out of​ your sentences and paragraphs like stickers in​ your socks.

As a​ writer - it's also important that you allow yourself time. Time to​ practice,​ time to​ play,​ time to​ perfect. With time,​ you'll discover yourself as​ a​ writer. You'll find your voice. You'll lift it​ to​ sing.

Try different things. Write poetry. Write a​ movie critique. Write a​ story. Try writing a​ newspaper article,​ a​ how-to. Try describing the​ indescribable. Challenge yourself. There's nothing that says you have to​ show it​ to​ anybody. Most professional writers (and best-selling authors) have scads of​ journals they wouldn't even show their best friends.

Writing doesn't necessarily mean sculpting every word from your mind with a​ chisel. Your head is​ not a​ rock. Be gentle with yourself. Enjoy,​ kick back,​ let loose,​ try this clustering method,​ learn to​ relax that muscle between your ears,​ and who knows,​ one day,​ all of​ sudden,​ you just might find yourself writing.


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