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…

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