blogging, inspiration, Research, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

The Writer’s Muse & Inner Critic

Above, Roger W. Sperry, 1913-1994

In his blog “How to Discover Your Writer’s Muse” Harvey points out that creativity springs from the right side of our brain while your knowledge of writing resides in the left side.
“Your writing muse lives in the right side of your brain – the side where all the creative work takes place. The critic lives in the logical left side. The muse has access to your unconscious mind – the place where you dream and imagine and store your hidden memories. The critic has no time for such nonsense. You use your creative side (or your writer’s muse) to supply you with great raw material. Then you use your logical side (or your inner-critic) to make sense of it all and knock it into shape.”

Harvey is suggesting that the more we know about muses, the more we can trust our own. Another way of putting it is, teach the left brain about muses and the right brain can form a useful muse. For those interested, his piece is at:

And, for those who wonder how much truth there can be in this approach, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine of 1981 was awarded to Dr. Roger W. Sperry, “for his discoveries concerning the functional specialization of the cerebral hemispheres.”

Warning, though. Anyone reading Sperry’s experiments may forever think differently of themselves.


8 thoughts on “The Writer’s Muse & Inner Critic

  1. mimispeike says:

    All I know, GD, is that two dozen things a day kick-start my thinking. Like this, just found it over on Salon. A headline is all I read, I’ll go back and read the article later.

    “Foreheads are a canvas upon which our eyebrows can paint emotions.” Obvious, but maybe I can do something fun with it in regard to Sly.

    Sly always wished he had lips, so he could whistle, like the cool kids he admired as a child. He wishes he had eyebrows, so he could raise one artfully.

    The article is on Vox. I just copied it out. Looks good. Looks real good.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Perry Palin says:

    Excellent article. I recognize my granddaughter, she’s nine years old, in the right side muse. We’ve wrtten together a number of creative accounts of her visits to Camp Grandpa.

    A friend, a librarian, told me she has “worked with books all (her) life, and couldn’t write a story ever.” Everyone has stories to tell, but she’s caught up with her left side overpowering the muse.

    Do the right and the left have a conflict, or enjoy a collaboration? Maybe it doesn’t matter when a book is in the works.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. mimispeike says:

    Foreheads were a big deal at the Elizabethan court. The style was to shave the hairline higher, then cake the face with white make-up. My capuchin monkey was right in style.

    If something catches my fancy, I grab it and save it. There’s hardly anything I can’t shoehorn into Sly somewhere.

    If that’s not a muse at work, it’ll do until the real thing comes along.

    What kinds of things does your muse pitch to you? Mine is hot for foreheads at the moment.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. GD Deckard says:

    Yes, Perry. The right and left can conflict. Dr. Sperry’s “Aha!” moment came when discharging a patient who had been admitted with seizures that occurred every 30 minutes. Sperry had determined that the spasms built up on one side of the brain and discharged over to the other side. So, he surgically cut the corpus callosum, the only physical connection between the right and left lobes. The patient’s seizures ceased and he appeared to be cured. As the patient dressed to leave the hospital, Sperry noticed that he was putting on his clothes with his right hand and taking them off with his left hand, all the while apparently unaware and talking normally. It occurred to Sperry that the patient now had two separate conscious minds.

    In a vivid experiment, Sperry had the patient blindfolded and placed a set of keys in the right hand and a toothbrush in the left hand. Then, he asked the patient to tell what was in each hand. The patient said he felt keys in his right hand but he could not say what was in his left. Sperry asked the blindfolded patient to write out what was in his left hand. The patient wrote, “toothbrush.”

    It turns out that information entering the body from the right hand is wired directly to the left lobe of the brain, where we have our speech area. So, the patient could say what he felt in his right hand. But information from the left hand is wired directly to the right lobe and the patient no longer had a physical connection to his left lobe, so the information did not reach his speech center and he could not say that he held in his left hand.

    Experiments like this won Sperry a Nobel Prize. They are absolutely fascinating reading. They can change what we think of our self. Or selves.

    Liked by 4 people

    • GD: this put me in mind (no pun intended) of a post I placed on BC back in ye olden times (I’ve updated the original slightly):
      The way I get around this crushing limitation is to remind myself: You can’t do it all (since “I” am but one bifurcated bicameral brain with an emergent property of consciousness giving rise to the illusion of an autonomous self called “Carl” trapped in chronological time), but you can (once you’ve silenced chattering monkey mind) pay 100% attention to whatever you’re doing at the moment. In a word: mindfulness. Arising from “an attitude of gratitude” that focuses the attention on what is enriching, fleeting and oftentimes unexpected: glints of light, love and laughter sparking betwixt the self and others as we whirl through the cosmos together en route to . . . well, different religio-philosophical systems give differing “final answers” to what happens post-consciousness to egocentric materialist entities besotted with mysticism and mystery. Let’s just say: we are ghosts in the machinery of meat; Glory Hallejuah! Enjoy the ride, and for god’s sakes be kind to yourself and others for the spark-flare moment you burn in the cosmos.

      Cognitive science: as awe-inspiring to sci-fi writers, philosophers and poets (or it should be!) as it is to biologists, psychiatrists and criminologists.

      Liked by 3 people

      • GD Deckard says:

        Greetings, 🙂 “bifurcated bicameral brain with an emergent property of consciousness giving rise to the illusion of an autonomous self called “Carl” trapped in chronological time” It is good to know you still live! “Glory Hallelujah!”

        Liked by 1 person

  5. mimispeike says:

    Back on Book Country, I remember one goofball (she wasn’t there long) who wanted to sell plot ideas to writers. Someone told her: most writers have too many ideas of their own, they don’t need to buy them.

    How many of us struggle to come up with ideas? If you have no idea that begs to get out onto paper, why on earth would you want to write? It’s no walk in the park, as we all know.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Too right – the problem isn’t a dearth of ideas but a surfeit. And working on one idea and then shelving it when what you think is a better one comes along. But creativity isn’t just in ideas – it’s also in the connections we make between the different elements of a story, which can occur at any moment. And then in the words we choose to tell the story – unless we never venture beyond stock combinations and clichés. It’s in the permanent dialogue between the left and the right.

      Liked by 3 people

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