I use all three halves of the brain.
I’m deep into my second career as a full-time professional writer, with a published novel, several produced stage plays, and many award-winning short stories. Many view my first career in engineering as so dissimilar to writing that they wonder, often aloud, what’s going on in that brain of mine? Did I have some kind of life-altering event that caused my brain paths to switch from one side to the other? Did I go through some sort of brain change operation? Do I need professional help?
The answers are no, no, and you be the judge.
And then there’s what I write. My novels are thrillers. Techno thrillers, suspense, and horror. My stage plays and short stories vary from drama to comedy, with comedy being my favorite, and the hardest to succeed at. People tell me those skills are quite unique and require different sides of the brain.
So that’s three halves of the brain in action. And I use them all in everything I create.
I use my engineering background and skills in my writing to plan, plot, create, and edit my work. I’m a detailed planner. Before I start writing a novel, I’ll spend months putting together character sketches, plot points, themes, story lines, and character arcs. Once I’ve created a first draft, I use an editing checklist, much like an engineering checklist, to verify I’ve done everything I wanted, and not done things a good writer should avoid.
Once I’m writing, I’m always focused on the tension and conflict surrounding both plot and characters. This includes the suspense that comes from a thriller, but also the natural funny side of each person’s life. Comedy is good for the soul, and it is all around us. Even the grimmest story can have a comedy component. It helps keep the characters real, and is more relatable for most of us than the extreme actions taken in a thriller.
I encourage every writer to keep all three halves of the brain in play as you create. Like a well-balanced character, it helps me be a well-balanced writer.
Steven G. Jackson January 18th, 2016
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