Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Fiction Writing: Playing the Waiting Game

Writing Fiction: Using the Right brain and the Left brain

My creative writing teacher has been echoing in each class the value of waiting.
  • Of waiting for an ending to come to you when a story is going nowhere.
  • Of waiting for a period to read the story again to see if it is worth sending to an editor.
Here’s his reason for waiting before looking at a piece of your own writing again:
The Left Brain is Logical, Sequential, Rational, Analytical, Objective, Looks at parts

The Right Brain is Random, Intuitive, Holistic, Synthesizing, Subjective, Looks at wholes
  • Most individuals have a distinct preference for one of these styles of thinking. Some, however, are more whole-brained and equally adept at both modes. In general, schools tend to favor left-brain modes of thinking, while downplaying the right-brain ones. Left-brain scholastic subjects focus on logical thinking, analysis, and accuracy. Right-brained subjects, on the other hand, focus on aesthetics, feeling, and creativity.
  • So, fiction writing stems from the right brain, but needs to be examined by the left brain in order to really work for a reader.
  • The waiting is all about letting the left brain take over from the right, which can only really happen if you let some time pass, between writing a story and looking at it again.
Benefits of waiting after writing: the story that emerges
  • Your subconscious might have been working on the story while you did other things. When you come back to the story a few weeks, months, or even years later, the solution for some dilemma in the story might be right there, waiting for you.
  • You will have a better fleshed story, and be able to identify and cover up the holes in the plot.
  • You will probably be able to eliminate spelling or grammatical mistakes.
  • You might be in a better mood while you are looking at your work after a period: this might give you a fresh perspective, tell you what the story is really about.
  • You might be an older, wiser writer, better at your craft, and your story gains from it.

The other day I was reading an article that said Kafka had a placard placed over his writing desk, saying “WAIT”.

I am thinking of doing the same. The next time I have the temptation to shoot off something I have written, I am not giving in.


  1. I like this idea. I'll give it a try.

  2. I am trying to give it a try too, patience is not really one of my virtues.

  3. Very provocative.

    Terry Finley


  4. This is a good blog resource for writers and certainly one I will check regularly now I have found it! I'm fortunate in that most of my stories come to me as endings, so I have to work out how I am going to get there, rather than what will happen when I do! :)

  5. Thanks, Terry. Come by often, and hopefully I would have something new put up every time.

    dba, welcome to my blog. I have come back after a long hiatus, and am keen to get going again. Went over to your blog, and am going to link to it rightaway!

  6. Okay dearheart. I swear you wrote this for me. :)
    I have sent off queries I swore were great, and then reread them and thought what the heck did I just do? Why did I send that? No agent will request for it.
    Now with this last one, which I really like, I'm sitting on it. Of course I'm re-editing my MS, but I've still sent it out without being completely ready. so yeah
    Thanks for sharing what you learn.
    Lurves you!


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