Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

engineering artistry June 13, 2010

There’s an artist and an engineer on your team.  They have different skills and you need to use both of them!  (Sylvia Taylor)

Sylvia Taylor presented a very practical workshop on editing at the Shuswap Lake International Writers’ Festival, and this quote is from that workshop.  Our very exacting and critical left brain and our very creative right brain can either work against one another or with each other.  This lesson is a very practical one for writers.

In this case, there is an “I” in team, since both members of the team are in our own head. When they’re fighting for our attention, nothing productive happens.  While our right brain is happily thinking up new plots and dialogue, our left brain is telling us our ideas are stupid and forcing us to second guess every line.  Sylvia recommended harnessing the ‘engineer’ of the right brain by doing timed writes.  The engineer is busy keeping tabs on the time, while the artist of the right brain is free to write without disturbance.

Another fabulous way to harness the critical left brain is during the editing process.   If we tell the left brain that it will get its chance afterwards, the right brain can create the story, article or poem, but then we can turn the piece over to the left brain to turn the art into craft: honing in on problems, pruning, improving and generally simply making the right brain’s effort stronger.  Editing is as important as the inventing, and often takes far more time.  Take advantage of your left brain’s skill in this area.

Writing is a team effort, it requires both our inner engineer and our inner artist.  We need to take full advantage of our whole brain to be stronger writers.  Thanks for the inspiring lesson, Sylvia.

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4 Responses to “engineering artistry”

  1. Rhonda Says:

    Reblogged this on A Novel Journey and commented:
    This post was brought to my attention by the author (and one of my cabin mates for Camp NaNo.) as I shared my struggle to turn off my inner editor. The message is so profound I wanted to share it with you. (Second day of Camp NaNo and I’m already ahead in knowledge! Thanks Shawn! 🙂 )

  2. That’s an interesting way of looking at it. Just imagine how much more writing we could get done if both halves of our brains were in sync.


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