Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Brain Damage Insights

Oliver Sachs’ new book about how music and the brain interact continues his usual mix of fascinating insights into medicine and graceful writing. At one point, he describes patients who suffer a stroke incapacitating their ‘left brain’ cognitive centers, only to suddenly become transcendent artists. The first thing I thought of was this: THE CRITIC, that brain obligato that insists nothing I write is any good, must be in the ‘left brain.’ How I wish she would shut up, and how beautifully I think I could write if she did. But I don’t really want to give up my ability to analyze either. I just want to be selective.


Carolyn Burns Bass said...

I struggle with that nasty left-brained crit, also. I am learning that dancing takes practice, which occupies the left brain, until the dance becomes rote, at which point the right brain takes over. That's only when I enjoy dancing.

Writing is the same. Practice your sentences with letters to friends, comments on blogs, homemade greeting cards. Learn how feelings sound when written, how sounds look as words, how sights appear on a page. Just like dance, writing is a rhythmic exercise.

Laura L. Mays Hoopes said...

I add a comment Aleta gave me permission to reprint from my own email:
I have an idea on how to shut the critic up. It's a right brain exercise. And speaking of music... Put on your fav music. Nothing too bouncy or jazzy. Mellow stuff. Close your eyes and see what the music is telling you. I there a dancer or maybe rain drops. Really look for what the music is telling you. Then make that image come to life in your mind. See the dancer jump and leap. Or the rain running down the car window.
After you can really see the images in your mind, quickly jot down what you can. The feelings of the dancer, is the dancer you? Is the rain stopping or just getting started? What does it smell like?
You do this and then go back to whatever you were writing and you just might not hear the critic. If you do, drown it out. Think only of the feelings and images you saw. It should not take away from your writing.
It will quiet the one in your head.