Kim Adrian Recommends...

“In her book The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer’s Block, and the Creative Brain (Mariner Books, 2005), neurologist Alice W. Flaherty describes how the brain functions when we write: the temporal lobes deal in raw creativity—it’s the part of the brain we use when we generate new material; the frontal lobe is in charge of the editorial process. We need both parts of the brain working in concert to write well. According to Flaherty, writers whose frontal lobes are in overdrive often edit themselves before they even get the words out (writer’s block), while those with the opposite problem (productive writers who can’t manage to refine what they’ve written) have overactive temporal lobes. My frontal lobe is definitely the strongman in my brain. When I get stuck, it’s usually because I’ve started fussing with details while neglecting the overall direction or energy of the piece as a whole. When this happens, I spend five or ten minutes writing out new ideas as quickly as I can without pausing. The short time frame and the not pausing are crucial because they give the physical act of writing a chance to outpace my editorial impulses. I find that often just a few minutes of writing like this can generate the seeds of a lot of new material.”
—Kim Adrian, author of The Twenty-Seventh Letter of the Alphabet (University of Nebraska Press, 2018)