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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.

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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