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.

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6 comments

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  1. Sarah Jensen

    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!
    Sarah

  2. Damyanti

    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!

  3. DBA Lehane

    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! 🙂