Hosted by: Cynthia Swanson & Andrew Swanson

Left Brain, Right Brain, Lizard Brain

I’ve read the left brain is the intellect. The editor.  The scientist or data geek.  The right brain is the creative side.  Emotion.  Imagination.  Belief in limitless possibilities.  And the lizard brain?

Colorful lizard sunning self on a rockWell, the lizard brain just wants food and a warm comfy place to catch some rays and work on its tan.

A lot of great writers are very right-brained.  This makes sense.  It’s the sweet spot for creativity, the openness to possibilities without the unwanted intrusion of boring old reality.

I’m about equally both.

In my day job, my role requires the use of both, so it works out pretty well for me.  That’s part of why I like it so much.  And when I’m using them both equally, I literally feel like I’m firing on all cylinders.  Everything clicks at work, and my evening writing sessions are productive and energizing.

But that doesn’t happen all the time.  When I focus too much on the left brain–when I have to live in organizing mode every day to try to keep my head above water–I get stuck in editor/data mode and creativity goes right out the window.  Nothing is more demoralizing than staring at a blank page for two or more hours, knowing what must happen next, and being unable to form the words to describe what you have in inventory in your head.  Endure the battle between left brain and right brain long enough, and you give the lizard brain the break it’s been looking for.

Here’s a typical session when this is happening: Sit down to write.  Look at the page.  Nothing.  Maybe I should check Facebook first.  Fifteen minutes later, come back, look at the page some more, maybe type a word or two, then delete them.  My email inbox probably needs cleaning.  Twenty minutes later, inbox is clean and lizard brain is squeaking that I need to pay attention to my Facebook games.  To avoid the temptation, I activate a program that blocks me from the internet.  Except I have games on the computer…and TV shows to watch in iTunes or on DVD.

Right about bedtime, the lizard brain turns in for the night, the left brain throws up its hands, and the right brain kicks into gear–letting loose a stream of ideas that I do my best to write down, even though I have to be up in six hours for work.  Sleep is overrated.

Today was a total lizard brain day.  I used up all my intellectual and creative juices doing some last minute shopping and gift wrapping before joining my mother, sisters, and nieces for our annual Christmas brunch.  It was nice being with everyone.  But I was cold when I came home, so instead of writing I curled up under a blanket on the rocker, snuggled with whichever cat came to visit, and napped.  The rest of the day was pretty much the same.

I have to tell you, it felt pretty good to be a lizard.

Green lizards reclined on purple loungers in the desert

Categories: Random Thoughts

1 reply

  1. I can completely feel your pain on this. These days, I am all lizard.

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