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Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

New Book Update: Making Progress By Postponing

want your writing to soarIn my last New Book Update, I admitted that I had too many “top priority” projects. So I made the difficult decision to postpone work on my new novel.

Since then, I recognized how perfectionism had pushed me away from the novel I finished drafting years ago. And I scheduled a mini-retreat in January to pull that novel off the shelf.

Postponing really works. Not the “I’ll wait until my next life milestone is reached to write again” version of resistance, which works against you. But the selective, “I can’t do 13 projects at once so some of these will have to wait” version that I committed myself to.

Unexpected Rewards

So far, I’ve completed four of the six top priorities I identified in August. I also made unexpected progress on several of my mid-range priorities. Almost as if the Universe was rewarding me.

Synchronicity is what happens when the Universe dances with you. You don’t always get synchronicity, but you can never get it if you aren’t willing to let go of the illusion of control. When you’re open (what Brené Brown would call vulnerable), the most wonderful things can enter.

The rewards got better! As I prepared the keynote “Creativity and the 50 and Better Brain” for the Loft’s conference for Writers 50 and Better, I discovered the coolest bit of research! I wasn’t looking for it, but it opens fascinating questions and possibilities for my Creative Brain Polarities book, which is one of the remaining top priorities on my list.

I thought I’d put that book aside just for a little while to prepare the keynote. If I’d hadn’t been reading The Secret LIfe of the Grown-up Brain specifically for the keynote, I wouldn’t have found this bit of research. It is a bit easier for synchronicity to catch you when you work on related topics, which is one of the reasons it can pay off to find your niche as a writer.

brain by mercedes benz 151835_15_0_MzQyOTE4OTQxLTUwNDcxNDUyOATwo Brains Are Better Than One

So what is the research that’s got me so jazzed? The middle-aged brain does a trick that younger brains can’t do. Or don’t do because they don’t need to.

Because your brain loses processing speed as it reaches middle-age, it apparently compensates. It uses both hemispheres to do things it did with one hemisphere back in the day. One researcher compared it to moving a chair: easy to do with one hand when you’re young, a little tougher when you’re older so you use two hands.

Not all middle-aged brains do this. Performance on a paired-word memory test lines up like this: younger brains are faster than middle-aged brains who use the same one hemisphere method younger brains use, but middle-aged brains who use both hemispheres are faster than younger brains!

Creativity requires shifting our typical left-hemisphere mode of thinking to the kind of thinking the right hemisphere excels at and back again. I suspect that people whose brains do the bilateralization trick may have easier and perhaps more frequent access to the full range of their creative abilities.

For me, that possibility and the opportunity to explore it is so juicy, I can taste it. I know, I’m a total geek when it comes to the brain and creativity.

Researchers don’t know why some middle-aged brains learn to use both hemispheres and others don’t. They don’t know exactly when our brains start using bilateralization or if we can consciously learn the trick. So many unanswered questions and so many more questions to discover and follow gives me a little shiver of delight.

When did you last have that shiver of delight in your writing? What synchronicities fueled or are fueling your writing? Are you open (aka vulnerable) to more?

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2 Comments on “New Book Update: Making Progress By Postponing”

  1. Joel D Canfield October 10, 2013 at 11:56 am #

    I’ll bet those whose brains learn this are musicians, or music lovers, or something musical, since music is already a whole-brain activity.

    Maybe not, but I like to pretend music is at the root of everything.


    • rosannebane October 10, 2013 at 5:02 pm #

      Music could be key. Higher education is one factor but they don’t know if there’s a casual connection. It’ll be fun to find out!


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