Gray Matter Matters

graymatterLGI consider myself pretty lucky. I have two jobs, fiction writing and copyediting (well, two jobs plus if you count technical writing separately), and I love both of them. Truly.

I’m frequently asked which one I like best, and I have trouble answering because… well, first off, I love writing!

There’s something that burns in me to imagine situations and people and how they would handle them and, ultimately, how two individuals can eventually fall in love. I’m driven to try to make all these ideas and thoughts make sense by writing about them. In short, I love making stuff up!

But it’s hard. Every time I sit down to write, I, like lots of writers, suffer some measure of anxiety. I want to get the words right, want to make the story sing, want people to feel what my characters feel, and that doesn’t just fall out of my brain and fingertips easily. Eric Maisel, a well-known creativity coach, said in a workshop I went to several years ago that when you’re writing, you make constant decisions. Every word you write, every character mood, every plot event…they’re all decisions the author has to make. Well, wouldn’t you know it, I’m a Libra, the sign known for the inability to make a decision.

So yeah, sitting down to write, opening the file, is anxiety provoking. But when I close the file for the day, having written a few paragraphs or pages… Yeah. That’s what I love. Having written. Some days, having written brings on a mini high, a feeling of accomplishment like none other.

And then…there’s editing. I love editing!

While writing is this terror-filled, gaping black sludge hole I jump into every day, not knowing what’s lurking there, waiting for me, whether I’ll be able to figure it out and come out victorious or whether, that day, it will get the best of me…editing is predictable. A shallow oasis of clear, refreshing water, where you can see the bottom. Comfortable for me. My safe place. There are rules in editing (though, contrary to what most people believe, grammar is not black and white and there is frequently more than one right way to do a particular thing). Guidelines. A couple of guidebooks, called the Chicago Manual of Style and Merriam-Webster. Experts at the tips of my fingers.

If I had to choose between the two? I don’t think I could. The writing speaks to my right brain, the creative side, and the editing speaks to my left brain, the analytical side. Writing is like the roller coaster ride, with extreme highs, rough lows, and the highest sense of “I freaking did it” when it’s over. Editing is more like the go-carts, even-keeled, keeping the car on the tracks, fun while you do it but less of a high afterward.

According to an online right brain/left brain test, I’m in the middle, and so between that and the Libra’s lifelong endeavor for balance…splitting my time between writing and editing is the best of both worlds.

So what about you? Are you left brain dominant or right brain dominant? (Take the super fast quiz here.) Is your job well suited for the side of your brain you favor? Or are you strangely in the middle like me and need to balance out both sides to be happy?

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6 Responses to Gray Matter Matters

  1. Mary Hughes says:

    Hi, Amy,

    Fun quiz! Thank you for this post. I thought I was not balanced, but actually split 🙂 I have had careers in computers and music, and now writing (but I’m like you on the creation/editing, thanks for putting the difference into such vivid words!). According to the quick test, I’m more right brained, which surprised me.

    • Amy Knupp says:

      Mary, it sounds like your careers balance each other well! Writing, to me, is the best of both worlds. (After the hard part, aka all of it, is done.) :mrgreen:

  2. I’m in the middle, too, Amy! I love problem solving and I love being creative, but like you, I love having written more than I like writing. You describe it perfectly!

  3. Edie Ramer says:

    It tells me that I use my brain equally, though I’m 12 points more on the left. It’s pretty close to other tests with more questions.

    It’s good to be balanced, doing more than one thing. Otherwise it feels tedious. Like work instead of fun.
    Edie Ramer`s last blog was …Good news

    • Amy Knupp says:

      You’re right, Edie, although writing seems to feel more like work than editing does. Not sure why, other than the decisions/anxiety thing. Oh, and maybe perfectionist tendencies? #cursed 😉

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