The Butterfly Method

butterfliesI attended a training course recently and one of things we looked at was the ‘Left Brain / Right Brain’ theory of how adults learn (and how we function in general).

The ‘Right Brain’ is (apparently) all about creativity, seeing the bigger picture and making random connections, whereas the ‘Left Brain’ is all about logic, structure and making sense of things.

The tutor wrote the words ‘Right Brain’ and ‘Left Brain’ on the board and then invited us all to come up and circle which one we thought most applied to each of us. As my fellow trainees happily stood up and walked confidently to the words that they most identified with, I stayed rooted to my chair.

The problem was: I identified with both. And not just a little bit of one and lots of the other: I identified with both equally.

Thankfully, the tutor never noticed that I hadn’t got up like everyone else but that session has been playing on my mind ever since.

I can’t help thinking that this too-close right/left brain relationship is what is making it so hard for me to finish anything I write.

The way I see it: my ‘Right Brain’ is like a swarm of butterflies where each butterfly is a different idea. These butterflies appear and disappear and never stay still for long: as soon as one flutters away, another flies closer to take its place.

My ‘Left Brain’, on the other hand, is like a lepidopterist. lepidopteristShe wants to trap and dissect the butterflies. She doesn’t want them fluttering away before she has had time to make sense of them: she wants them under her control. She isn’t interested in a swarm of butterflies: she just wants one at a time.

So what happens? The rest of the butterflies fly away and the butterfly in the lepidopterist’s clutches suffocates and dies.

Maybe it’s a bit of a rubbishy analogy but it makes sense of how I’m feeling right now.

And with it, comes a new strategy (I’m starting to lose count of all the ‘new strategies’ I have had since starting this blog!). I’ve decided to give up on the butterfly net and, with it, my focus on a single Work In Progress: I’m going to continue to write every day but I’m going to write whatever idea happens to come into my head and not force myself to stick with whatever I happened to be writing yesterday.

As things stand, I have 3 major WIPs that I’m working on and countless background ones that may choose any moment to bring themselves forward. Instead of stressing that I have 3 stories ongoing, I’m enjoying flitting between them.

And, week by week, the word counts for each of them are steadily ticking upwards…

Nightmares and daydreams

Life is strange and changeable and unsettled at the moment…

…and the landscape of my dreams has descended into nightmarish weirdness in pseudo-sympathy.

Over the course of a week, I had a series of dreams based on a different horror film each night. The one that was reminiscent of ‘The Grudge’ still lingers in my mind.

Though the dream plots of the others may have faded away, the atmosphere of grubbiness and decay has remained. Skin-crawling and overwhelmingly shudder-inducing, the backdrop to my dreaming self has taken on the grainy, blood-splattered ambience of a ‘Silent Hill’ PS2 game.

Now, I concede that it is probably my fault. After all, nobody *forced* me to spend the entirety of my teenage years gorging myself on horror novels and horror films as though they were some kind of hideous, forbidden sweets.

(Although I could maybe blame my Mother who, when I innocently pointed to her copy of ‘Pet Sematary’ by Stephen King on the bookshelf and asked ‘what’s that?’, went completely OTT on how I must *never read it*… thereby making it the single most exciting thing in the entire house).

On the upside, my waking self is brimming over with inspiration at the moment. The mere fact that I’m adding something to this blog, after months and months of neglect, is proof of that. The notebooks that hang around in my room, in my bag, under the coffee table in the living room: all of them are seeing more action than they have for ages.

For such a long time, it has felt like my imagination has buggered off on holiday without me, leaving nothing but a lot of space and a growing obsession with retro kitchens and bunting. To have stories back in there, to have worlds rising up and hammering themselves into place, to hear intriguing characters chattering away ten-to-the-dozen, desperate to spew out their life stories before I lose interest – all of this feels like taking a huge breath of air when I didn’t even realise I was drowning.

I have no idea if the nightmares and the daydreams are linked but I can cope with a bit of horror if it means getting my writing mojo back…

The…er…’joy’ of editing

So…

  • I’ve read through my whole Nano novel
  • I’ve written a breakdown of each chapter
  • I’ve done a write-up of all the main characters
  • I’ve written down all the major plot changes I want to make

Now I have no further excuses: it’s time to actually start editing the thing.

Worryingly, whilst all the books I’ve ever read on creative writing state that a big part of editing is taking huge sections out, I’m actually in the position of wanting to add quite a bit in, especially to the first part of the story.

Right, time to stop procrastinating with this blog and get the hell on with it… I guess…