Sunday, January 30, 2011

Are You A Right-Brain Or Left-Brain Thinker?

The two sides of the human brain have distinct abilities unique to either the right side or left side. An individual's strengths and weaknesses are often based on which side of the brain is dominant. It's always been presented to me as left-brained being the logical, methodical, and pragmatic side and right-brained is the creative side. There have been books written on this phenomenon.

At least that's the way I've always understood right vs. left brain.

The first thought is that writers must be right-brained since writing is a creative effort. And many writers are also involved in other creative endeavors such as various forms of the arts and music. For myself, I do photography.  But it seems to me that writers being right-brained is only partly true.

As a writer, I certainly deal with my right brain creative side. But as a writer, I also need my methodical, logical, and pragmatic left brain as part of my creative effort. I would consider research as being methodical left-brained. And then there's the switch over from right brain creative to left brain logical and pragmatic when writers go into edit mode. And that edit mode is necessary in order to take a creative effort and hone it into a marketable effort.

I recently came across a ten question quiz to test whether someone is a right brain thinker or a left brain thinker. Not sure I agree with all the conclusions, but I found it interesting.

Are you ready?

1) Are you better at math and science than art and literature?

If your answer is YES: People who are left-brained thinkers (logic) are often better at math and science over art and literature.
If your answer is NO: People who are right-brained thinkers (creative) are usually better at art and literature than math and science.

2) Do you love playing sports outdoors over reading indoors?

If your answer is YES: Right-brain thinkers (creative) enjoy the great outdoors and athletics.
If your answer is NO: People who are left-brained (logic) usually prefer staying indoors and reading.

3) Do you prefer verbal communication over physical communication?

If your answer is YES: Left-brain thinkers (logic) love to work things out by talking.
If your answer is NO: Right-brain thinkers (creative) believe actions speak louder than words.

4) Would you rather draw pictures freehand instead of putting together a model airplane?

If your answer is YES: Those who are right-brained (creative) are not fans of tremendous structure and prefer having some creativity at work.
If your answer is NO: Those who are left-brained (logic) are in need of structure and prefer having specific guidelines at work.

5) Do you like being in groups more than being alone?

If your answer is YES: Group oriented people are usually right-brained (creative).
If your answer is NO: Loners are usually left-brained (logic).

6) When given instructions, are lots of pictures easier to understand than text?

If your answer is YES: Right-brained (creative) people love picture explanations.
If your answer is NO: Left-brained (logic) people much prefer text explanations.

7) Have you noticed that you're better at providing the details and necessary information for a project than coming up with the initial idea?

If your answer is YES: Left-brained (logic) are more into processing information and details than being involved in the creative process.
If your answer is NO: Right-brained (creative) are more interested in the initial creative process rather than the information gathering.

8) Do you need a quiet environment when you are working?

If your answer is YES: Left-brain (logic) people usually need quiet environments.
If your answer is NO: Right-brain (creative) people don't mind a bustling background as they work.

9) Would you enjoy helping someone solve a relationship problem more than a math problem?

If your answer is YES: Solving relationship problems is a natural for right-brain thinkers (creative).
If your answer is NO: Solving math and technical problems is right up the alley of the left-brained (logic).

10) If you were a writer, would you prefer to write non-fiction books instead of fiction?

If your answer is YES: The left-brained (logic) are obsessed with details and truth.
If your answer is NO: The right-brained (creative) are more imaginative.

That's the end of the quiz.  As I said, I'm not sure I agree with all the conclusions.  I had a friend who was totally disorganized in everything and would continually justify it by saying she was right-brained so she didn't relate to anything else.  I think we all need a little left-brained common sense in our lives.

Do any of you have hobbies or other outlets where you use your right-brained creativity (other than writing)?  Left-brained pragmatic day jobs demanding a right-brained creative outlet as balance?


Jim Hartley said...

Your quiz just confirmed what I have believed for a long time - there are people who are "ambi-brainous," and I am one of them. I get no definite reading from the questions, some indicate right and some left. I am good at logical thinking (degrees in Math and Computer Science) but I am also good at writing fiction. Being able use both sets of abilities at the appopriate times is definitely a good thing. I think a lot of authors probablyfall into this category.

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

I'm a mixture. I'm good at the arts, literature and science - awful at math. Interesting. My answers were split right down the middle.

Joanne Stewart said...

Very interesting post Samantha. I enjoyed reading that. My answers were split right down the middle as well. Fascinating stuff.

Samantha Gentry said...

Jim: I think most people are some degree of "ambi-brainous". If they favor one side of their brain they still are able to pull behavior patterns from the other side. You mentioned your technical degrees yet you write fiction. That can be a very successful combination as evidenced by Michael Creighton and Robin Cook, both medical doctors who write fiction. Also John Grisham and Scott Turow, both attorneys and successful novelists.

Thanks for your comment.

Samantha Gentry said...

Julia: Sounds to me like a good mix of both sides.

Samantha Gentry said...

Joanne: I think to function successfully in society one really needs to be able to access healthy doses of each. The creative needs to pull from the pragmatic and the pragmatic needs to be able to tap into the creative...otherwise you have Dr. Brennan on BONES where everything is totally analytical and that's the only way she can perceive what's going on around her. :)

Celia Yeary said...

Samantha--I'm conflicted, too, being of one mind with Jim up there. I'm science educated, but write fiction.Overall, I'd say I was a true right-brained person, though. My dh--definitely, without a doubt, left-brained. Good test-Celia

Fiona McGier said...

There's a quiz that made the rounds last year that showed a ballerina, and depending on which brain-side controls you, you'd either see her dancing twirling to the left or the right. My dominant is my left side, but I could concentrate and see her dancing the opposite way also. I'm good at math, but prefer to write creative fiction, even though most of what I read is non-fiction. But I love large groups of people...and require silence to write. Viva la differences, I guess! Thanks for bringing this up for thinking about!

A.Y. Stratton said...

I answered both on many of the questions. I love reading and writing fiction AND solving math problems. I like people around me, but need quiet to write. I am left-handed, majored in English lit and minored in mathematics. Weird, eh?

Samantha Gentry said...

Celia: I know what you mean. I write fiction, yet both my checkbooks balance to the penny each month.

Samantha Gentry said...

Fiona: I've seen that twirling figure test. I could see her spinning both directions.

Samantha Gentry said...

Y.A.: That seems to be the general consensus...using both sides. Perhaps not equally, but definitely both sides more than just enough to squeak by. I have a degree in business and worked for several years in television as a production manager which means I worked with show budget among other things, yet changed careers and turned to full time fiction writing.

June Bourgo said...

I'm pretty much split, leaning slightly to the right side. I agree with Samatha, you need to be able to use both sides for writing. All my hobbies lean to the right side, but I have managed a clinic, doing budgeting and billing quite effectively.

Interesting post.

Samantha Gentry said...

June: Thanks. Just as writing requires both sides, my hobby of photography also uses both sides. There's the creativity of seeing the image you want to capture and all the technical stuff of the settings on my digital slr cameras to record the image the way I see it. I find the technical use of my Nikon digital slr cameras far more difficult than my Nikon film slr cameras were. :) And then there's working with the digital images in my computer vs. just sending it to the film lab and telling them what I want. :)