Several months ago I had a critique with an editor who read the first ten pages of a mid-grade novel I had been working on for several years. He could tell from my writing that I wasn't a beginner, but there was something about my writing that stopped him from loving it, even though he liked the concept. We talked a bit more and when I confessed that I was primarily a nonfiction writer, he said, "Ah, that explains it," and advised me to go right when my brain told me to go left. My writing was too stiff, he said. I need to be freer, get out of my comfort zone, go wild.
I had nearly forgotten about that critique until I went to a workshop given by Andrea Page a fellow member of the Rochester Area Children's Writers and Illustrators. Andrea was presenting "A Writing Workshop for the Right Brain." Normally, this is the kind of program I would flee from because I've always believed that if you're going to write, then write. You don't need creative exercises. But I went, partly because I didn't have choir, which normally occupies my Thursday evenings, and partly because I have to lead a workshop of my own in a few months and was curious how to handle writing assignments within a class setting.
I'm so glad I did. Thanks Andrea. Because I realized that the reason I have disliked free writing and seemingly nonsensical exercises is that I am more left-brained than I'd like to believe. I prefer to write for a reason. I prefer to be more organized, which surprises me since I am the least organized nonfiction writer I know (just visit my office). I suspect that most nonfiction writers are more left-brained than right-brained. What do you think?
And if this is so, that is probably why I have more trouble writing fiction than my nonfiction. So, the big question is: can I ditch my dislike of free-writing and incorporate it into my daily routine (which doesn't exist) in an attempt to pull myself away from the gravitational pull of my left brain and fling myself toward my right hemisphere? I will try. I would love to someday zip back and forth across my corpus callosum (the part that connects the two halves, Sibby) and really go wild with my writing.
It might take a while. I'm not very disciplined. But stay tuned to see what happens.