Tuesday, July 22, 2014

And now for something completely different.

Okay, Type M fans, you’re going to have to do a little reading today before we being. Since you’re here, I’m going to assume that you have some interest in what writing is all about, in which case I’ve got something quite intriguing for you. I few weeks ago, I stumbled across an article about the results of German researchers investigating how the brains of writers actually work when they’re at work. Click on this to read it. I’ll just work a bit on my new novel while I’m waiting for you to read it.

So, what do you think? Having been involved in serious writing for more years than I sometimes care to acknowledge, the results of this study really don’t surprise me. But most intriguing to me was the fact that trained and seasoned writers’ brains appear to work differently from those who are untrained. The suppositions as to why this is happening makes perfect sense. Most of my best “creating” when it comes to writing is done inside my head and away from the computer. My famous “walks in the snow” with recalcitrant characters. I suspect that you writers in the audience will agree with me on this

When I’m writing my novels, a fierce process of creating the necessary dialogue to accompany a particular scene begins in my head. I don’t ask it to happen, it just does. At first, realizing what was going on made me question my own sanity. Fortunately, I’m quite used to having internal music going on inside my head — sometimes even when I’m listening to music — so pretty quickly I came to accept it as part of the creative process:

“By contrast, the brains of expert writers showed more activity in regions involved in speech.”

It’s nice to see that my experience has been now medically confirmed. I am not a flake and my brain appears to be working the way it should. There’s nothing wrong with my invisible friends carrying on discussions in my brain — even when I don’t ask them to. Case in point: last night, after a rehearsal of the big band in which I play, as we sat around in our host’s backyard (Thanks, Henry. It was a lovely evening!), I dropped out of a conversation I was having with two people when I realized that two of my characters had started a discussion about why it’s important for people to make clear decisions about what they want to pursue in life based on what their interests are, not on parental expectations. The conversation might well never appear in the book, but it confirmed something I had been suspecting about both characters which they had previously only hinted at. Now they were saying it out loud. Whether the dialogue appears in the eventual book or not is immaterial. It tells me a lot about each characters’ motivations and I can move forward with that in mind.

On the surface, this is a very weird and difficult thing to explain to people whose brain don’t work in this manner. In fact, I suspect little thought bubbles appearing above their heads would probably reveal, “This person is completely mad.”

I’m not. I’m just wired that way!

1 comment:

Eileen Goudge said...

OMG! You just described my life. I often hear voices in my head. Nice to know I'm not schizophrenic, just a seasoned writer :)