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Updated on October 1, 2009

by Helen Borel

The writing process is both complex and simple. Simple because a true writer is unable to not write. A true writer must write as we all must breathe air. Complex because the creative process is both a right-brain activity and a left-brain activity. It demands the logic, organization and planning that the left cerebrum directs. And it must incorporate the primary process of dreaming, hallucinations, poetry and evanescent unexplainable essences that the right cerebrum captures.

Thus, the writer - as are other creative beings - is unusual in the ways he/she uses the brain and its many components. Ordinary people (by which I mean people who are sure they are not creative at all or those who are frightened to find out that they are - the latter category which I think most people fall into), tend to be attached to left brain thinking; mathematical, dependable, logical, no out-of-the-box conceptualizations here. Therefore, I believe, most people only use 50% of their cerebral powers, if that. The only time they may get to experience right cerebral functioning is involuntarily, either when they are dreaming or if they become psychotic and see visions or hear voices. In schizophrenia, such primary process thinking is prevalent and emanates from the right brain.

In the creative process, the writer is somehow able to dip into the primary process where psychosis lives, take what objects, memories, cuckoo thoughts, and inventions are found there and return to conscious life without being wounded, too much, mentally. In psychoanalysis, this is referred to as "regression in the service of the ego." How the artist does this is somewhat of a mystery.

My experience is that, while conscious and aware of all around me, I allow myself to become so focused on a concept and on the need to write itself, that I enter a kind of trance - even though it is easy to be aware of my surroundings, answer the phone, develop side ideas unrelated to the focus at hand, and so forth. It is the highly focused state that permits the dipping into the depths of Self via the primary process housed in the right brain.

The true writer somehow - no one really knows why and how the brain does this -
manages to use both cerebral organs and their functions,
separately at first when birthing a new idea. Then, letting the right brain do its thing with imagination, memory and poetic use of language and individual words, the writer creates a potpouri of substance that can then be attacked by the master Editor, the left brain.

If you are someone, wishing to become a writer, who thinks this process is easy and painless, you should immediately disabuse yourself of that idea. It's hard. And the hardest part of writing is when Logic must be applied to make your creation work.
That is when you must perform surgery on your baby. When you must ruthlessly cut - sometimes your very best ideas because they really don't work with the piece at hand, no matter how pretty your words, no matter how astute the philosophy you have developed. But, not to worry. Don't throw the excised fragments out. File them in an "Ideas" folder for possible future use, or as "ticklers" to get other projects going.

So, if you love to write, you must do it every day to experience how your dual cerebri work. The process will not kick in unless you do it with consistency and regularity. The process is organic. It cannot be taught. It must be learned as you do it.

You will know by the feel of it when your writing is as perfect as you can make it for the subject you have chosen and for the target audience of the medium you have selected for it. In that regard, don't submit anything to a publication that you haven't thoroughly gone over for clarity, tightness, creativity, quality, grammar, originality, style and, heaven forbid...typos and mispellings.

Proofread several times to make sure your piece is in quality sumission mode. Your editors will be grateful. And you will be proud of your work...even if it is rejected by one editor, it will still be in the best of shape for another venue.

Yes, writing is simple and complex. And rejection is painful. But there is nothing more satisfying than doing all day the very kind of work that makes you happy.

(c) copyright 2009 Helen Borel.     For permission to reprint the entire article, email me at           To use excerpts or short quotes from it, please give attribution as follows: "According to Dr. Helen Borel, Psychotherapist to Creative Personalities in New York City."

As always, fellow writers' comments are welcome.  You can also follow my tweets at  and read my medical, psych, creativity, opinion columns, and more here at   

And, for some hearty laughter, Google BOREL SATIRE: FREUD  <--This short fiction is here at HubPages; however, the url is so long that it's easier to access via googling. 


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