I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Right or Left Brained, which are you?

By Jennie Atkins
I’ve been going back through some older articles on writing.  I found one I’d ripped out of the Romance Writers of America RWR, March 2012 edition called “Left Brain or Right Brain”, that I found quite interesting.

From the time I started writing, there seemed to be a difference of opinion between writers on the best approach the writing process.  You have those on one side who claim plotting out their work is the only way to write a novel, then to the far left are the pansters, those who write the scene as it comes to them uninhibited by the structure of an outline. It often left me wondering, which way is right?


It’s all in our genetic makeup.  Left brainers tend to be logical and make lists, including a detailed outline of their work in process. And they’re satisfied with knowing the path of the story.  Every detail is planned down to the delivery of the novel to the editor, which by the way, is usually on time!  The down side is they’re afraid to take a chance and deviate from the outline.

Right brainers are spontaneous, they can write the scenes out of order, and feel like they’re on a wonderful adventure with their characters.  They let the characters lead the way, even if it gets them in trouble.  The downside, is spontaneity will often lead to disconnected scenes and a lot of rework.

So if you’re wondering where you stand, here is a brief list taken straight from the article.

Left brained writers:
  • Like to plan out most aspect of their life
  • Don’t work well with distractions
  • Tend toward step-by-step learning
  • Zero in on details rather than the overall pattern
  • Like a structured environment
  • Make decisions based on logic, facts, and reason
  • Like to do one thing at a time
  • Enjoy learning when facts and numbers are presented
  • Learn best when new information is presented in sequential form

Right brained writers:
  • Have only the most general of ideas of where their story is going
  • They are spontaneous in how they live their life, as well as how they write
  • They make decisions based on intuition and emotion
  • They expect your characters to explain what they’re going to do next
  • They don’t mind if the story diverges from what they expected
  • They learn best when information is presented in anecdotal or story form
  • Respond better to lessons that can relate to on a personal level rather an an abstract level
  • Respond well to visual learning
  • Can work with distractions

After reading this article I’ve decided I am definitely left brained with some right brained tendencies. By understanding how we think, we can take advantage of our strengths and plan for our weaknesses.

Your turn:  What are you?


  1. Right brain. Total panster. Even if I did have an outlines, my characters wouldn't follow it. I tried. Over and again I've tried. It does take me longer, with all the reworking, but that's just the way it is. Great post, Jennie

  2. I'm right-brained, though evolving toward center to allow more left-brain in. Without it, my plots tend to become like well-endowed ladies whose major bones have instantly turned to mush (due to alien tazers, I guess), and they lie there inert, protesting and blubbering, and unable to get up and walk. I'm searching for a happier medium and will be working on that soon via working more diligently w/ Book Buddy, etc. Thanks, Jennie, & blessings.

    1. What a picture you paint! Ha. Ha! :-)

  3. Fun post, Jennie! I'm right brain with a few tendencies of the left. When I tried to plot everything first, I was completely immobilized. Like Ginger said, being a panster means a lot of reworking. But that's when those aha! moments happen. :-)

  4. Well, I find that I lean toward the right brain, but really am pretty well center. I like outlining a few chapters at a time...on a large desk calendar so the chapter will correlate with the days and I have a timeline. I know the ending but usually not the middle and find it as I go. Maybe I'm just confused. lol Oh, and I am ambidextrous. Great post, Jennie.

  5. I think I'm left-brained with times of right-brain oozing in. Fun post!

  6. Ginger, I can so picture you as a right-brained personality--its so you! :-)

  7. Dee, How funny! I agree with Roxanne that you've painted quite a picture! LOL

  8. Roxanne, I'm sure we're all about middle of the road in some respects. But sometimes finding out where our weaknesses are, we can perform better in the long run.

  9. Pat, I too struggle with the middle and I'm more left-brained...so lets be confused together!

  10. Teri, Oozing is okay, at least in this sense! :-)