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Updated on June 25, 2008

Honoring and Using Your Creative Process


by Helen Borel

Both complexity and simplicity characterize the writing process. Which is simple because a born writer is incapable of not writing. A born writer must write as we all must breathe air. Too, writing is complex because the creative process includes both right-cerebral and left-cerebral activities. It demands the planning, organization and logic which the left brain directs. Concomitantly, it must incorporate the primary process of dreaming, hallucinations, poetry and evanescent unexplainable essences which the right brain captures.

Uniqueness of the Writer's Mind

Thus, the writer - as are other creative beings - is unique in the ways she/he uses the brain and its many features. Ordinary individuals (by which I refer to those who are certain they lack creativity, or those who are scared to discover they are creative - the latter that I believe most persons, if honest with themselves, can identify with) tend to be attached to left cerebral thought processes; mathematical, reliable, logical, never out-of-the-box concepts here.

Therefore, I'm positive, that most individuals utilize only fifty percent of their brain power, if that. The only time such left-brainers may get to experience right brain activity is involuntarily, either while dreaming or if they ever become insane and "hear" voices or "see" visions. Such primary process thinking is characteristic of schizophrenia and emanates from the right cerebrum.

Engaged in the creative process, the writer is somehow enabled to dip down into the primary process - where psychosis lives - extract what objects, memories, cuckoo thoughts, and inventions are found there and return to real life (consciousness) without being wounded, too much, emotionally. This process is referred to, in psychoanalytic theory, as "regression in the service of the ego." How the artist makes this happen is still, mostly, a mystery.

The Creative Process is a Highly Focused State

My experience with my writing process is that, while aware and conscious of everything happening around me, I relax and let myself become so focused on an idea and on the need to write about it, and on the essentiality of writing itself, that I seem to enter a sort of trance. While, at the same time, I am also easily aware of my surroundings, can answer a phone call, will develop side concepts unrelated to the focus at hand, and so forth. It is this highly focused state that allows the plunging down or dipping into my depths of Self by way of the primary process which lives in the right brain.

The natural-born writer somehow - no scientist or psychologist truly knows how and why the creative person's brain does this - manages to utilize both cerebri and their divergent functions separately, at first when giving birth to a shiny new idea. Then, allowing the right brain to do its thing with memory, imagination, and poetic use of language and special applications of individual words, the writer creates a unique mixture of substance which then sits ready, tremulously, to be attacked by the master Editor, the writer's left brain.

If You Don't Like to Work Hard and Think Deeply, Forget About being a Writer

If you are fantasizing about becoming a writer and you imagine this process is easy and painless, let me shock you into reality here and now: Immediately disabuse yourself of this notion! Writing is difficult. And the most difficult phase of the writing process is when Logic must be applied to render your creation worthy of publication.

This is the time when you are forced to perform surgery on your new baby. When you must excise, ruthlessly - oftentimes your very best ideas because they simply don't belong in the work at hand - no matter how beautiful the words, no matter how brilliant your inherent philosophy, out they must go.

Still, stay calm. Don't toss those cut-out fragments. Place them in a "ticklers" file folder for future idea arousals to elaborate more fully on these "ticklers," or to nudge you to get going on other projects.

My advice for writers, freelance or otherwise: Since, presumably, you love to write, you absolutely must do it every day to get the feel of how your dual brains work. Your creative process will not click on until you do it consistently and with regularity. Writing is organic. Nobody can "teach" it to you. You learn to do it better and better AS you do it.

Keep on doing it. You'll know by the feel of it when your writing project is as excellent as you can write it for the topic you've selected and for the target readership of the publication you have chosen for it.

After the Creative...Comes the Pain, the Editing

And when you are ready to submit it to an editor or publisher, please don't send anything that you haven't thoroughly read over and over again for quality, grammar, originality, clarity, creativity, style and tightness. Nothing extraneous. Cut out unnecessary sentence-lengtheners. Remember the old adage: "Less is more."

Additionally, be surgical about typos and misspellings. Proofread several times to make sure your work is in high quality submission mode. Your editors will be most grateful and you will be proud of your writing. So, even if declined by one publication, your work will still be in perfect shape for submission elsewhere.

Lastly, during your struggles to develop your writing talent, remember this: Though the writing process may appear simple while being quite complex, it is exceptionally rewarding. Because nothing is more exhilarating than doing all day the precise kind of work that makes you happy.

© copyright 2008 Dr. Helen Borel. All rights reserved.

For permissions and rights, email me and type into the Subject line "BOREL SYNDICATE"

To enjoy my satire on Freud, I invite you to visit

To read my various articles on psychiatry and psychotherapy subjects, feel free to visit


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      Helen 9 years ago

      Shadesbreath,, thanx for your agreement. My piece on the writer's creative process seems to have hit a chord here, which I think is good. Yes, I equate the whole process right-brain creativity and left-brain editorial with LABOR, e.g., childbirth. And ain't it so hard to give our baby away to an editor or publisher who is missing a certain number of clues as to what best to do with our baby? That's one of the reasons I love writing here at HubPages. NO MIDDLEMEN. I invent. I craft it into words. I polish it like a master shoepolisher. Then I publish it forthwith. No middlemen writing in my margins with clueless editorial notions. No months of waiting for editors and publishers to condescend to respond to a query or a fleshed out idea, or a completed manuscript - if they ever do. No wasting my creative life waiting for the dawn of eons before an agent/editor has the brilliance to perceive the writing gift I serve before their eyes.

      Also, no time wasted writing "marketing reports," and statistical summaries of potential target audiences, and the like. (Isn't this the agent's job, who gets the high commission for my creativity?) I demand to spend my time doing my creative work, not preparing marketing and advertising and demographic data. I'm hard put to grasp why agents and/or publishers have the chutzpah to assume that writers have time to waste away from our creative craft in order to do their job, which is the publishing, marketing and distribution of my books. Anybody else frustrated with this industry development where they are giving us duties we don't need and that rob us of our creative time? -Helen (a.k.a. Creativita)

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      Helen 9 years ago

      Nice to see you here, Bob Ewing. And I agree with you that writing is a compulsion; however, it is not a pathological compulsion, it is a healing compulsion which I encourage creative patients (and others) to do in our psychotherapy work together. (I know I always feel much better when in the act of writing and and creating something new. And that when I let my writing idle for a day or two....When not approached for a few days, I feel sad and empty. So it must be done.) Looking forward, Bob to more original food gatherins from you. Helen (a.k.a. Creativita)

    • Shadesbreath profile image

      Shadesbreath 9 years ago from California

      Good summation of the process.  And I totally agree on the hard work part.  It's the self-editing / revision process that is definately the hard core labor of writing.  I've heard people say that "writing is a labor of love" which may be true, but revision is just a labor of labor.   

    • Bob Ewing profile image

      Bob Ewing 9 years ago from New Brunswick

      I agree if you are a writer you must, as in, are compelled to write.

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      Helen 9 years ago

      Hi CJStone: Glad you appreciated my piece on "Writer's Mind...." I know what you mean about agents/publishers not reading our work fast enough and literally wasting our lives while we wait for their "decisions."

      'Tho I AM a published writer, in the print media - medical writing, pharmaceutical writing, general articles in lay publications as well as book review columns on fiction and nonfiction, some poetry...and have done some playwriting - I would still love to have many more of my works and ideas published (and certainly would love to earn money from these works). I am very prolific and have varied ideas in a multiplicity of subject areas. So, CJ..., since you have an interest in psych and eschew the "technical," why not visit my satire on Freud, et al. at

    • CJStone profile image

      CJStone 9 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      Hello Creativita, I've just caught your post on the Bard of Ely's page about me. You are right about HubPages. I was getting very frustrated storing up stories that no editor seemed to want to read. You give up writing in the end, as the one thing a writer wants is to be read. Well, you don't give up writing because you can't give up writing. The beauty of HubPages is you just publish, and you get read, isn't that right? I mean the numbers aren't fantastic, there's no money in it, but it's people's comments that keep you going. Hence this comment for you. Keep it up Creativita, I'm sure there are plenty more stories in that bottom drawer of yours waiting to be published. Any popular (ie non-technical) stuff on psychoanalysis? I'd be interested in that.

    • CJStone profile image

      CJStone 9 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      Very good analysis of the writing process