Operational Brain tasks vs. Creative Brain tasks

No, this is not the correct vocabulary I’m sure. So you’ve already guessed this won’t be a scientific type discussion.  You’ve probably heard it described more as a Left Brain vs. Right Brain activity right?  Let me see if I can explain myself!  I’ve had two conversations this week regarding the reality though, so I’m going to hope you know what I mean.

By operational brain, I am referring to the task oriented work we do by checking items off of a list, making and using tech options as reminders of our “to-do’s” and working systems in such a way that projects, assignments or businesses make progress ultimately being completed. 

By creative brain, I am referring to the very opposite process of creation.  Allowing time to be an open ended continuum to be able to create art, music, books etc. requires continual immersion in ideas and creative space. 

For a long portion of my life, I engaged my creative side but used it very operationally.  I didn’t allow a lot of time to create, and out of necessity worked very operationally.  First working operationally is quite easy.  Tasks need to be done and you do them.  Generally, you get paid for work you do especially when you accomplish it.  A few years ago, I realized my creative spark was being hindered by the very operational life I had constructed. 

Thankfully, I had a reached a time in my life and we as a family were in a position financially where I could find some wiggle room.  This wiggle room allowed me create again.  Where it was musically oriented before, I know allowed the stories in my brain to come out and began going down a road of writing.

It has been a delightful journey, but a tough one frankly.  I have always believed that if you work hard and produce good work, you will find success.  This is not necessarily the case in the publishing world.  But I am learning, and I am training myself to improve. What’s funny to me though is that the deeper I immerse in what I believed to be a fully creative opportunity – I come full circle back around to the necessity of digging into the operational side again.  Building a platform, connecting with people and networking, creating the sales pitches and proposals all require a certain level of operational brain.  If I’m not careful I can find myself swing so easily back into operational mode again.  Again, tasks get completed, checklists get checked and “to-do’s” get crossed off.  Short term satisfaction though because ultimately I LOVE and CRAVE creative brain.  It’s what I enjoy even if currently I’m still trying to figure out how to earn from it.  I’m working through it and I’m learning I MUST protect my creative time, by compartmentalizing my operational duties into certain time frames, even though my tendency is to deal with things as they occur.  Creative time has to be precious and protected and utilized everyday even if the creative lightning bolt doesn’t strike.  Showing up and working the creative muscle is half the battle, the other is not providing an excuse for avoiding the creative work.

How about you – do you get what I’m saying about operational brain vs. creative brain?  If so, let me know how you work through it!

The Writing Life

The writing life - conferences, groups, chats, etc.

I went to my first writer’s conference a little over a year ago. It was local and for only one day, so it felt doable.  I was so incredibly intimidated, but I was determined to see if I could learn anything about this new thing I wanted to start doing. It was a great experience.  From there I launched into a much larger writer’s conference, that required travel and several days away from home. To say I was intimidated for this conference is a major understatement.  I was overwhelmed with all I didn’t know.  The thing is I usually try to put myself in situations where I have an understanding or knowledge of what I’m doing.  It’s a blessing and a curse really.  I will kill myself with research before I will actually go try to do something.  I’m working on it.

All that to say this – the writer’s conference experience has so far been encouraging.  While I didn’t meet my goals at the large conference and actually returned home feeling discouraged, several things happened after conference that have become so important for my journey.

  • I got my first Work for Hire job because I was at the conference and heard an announcement. 
  • I met new friends, also writers, who continue to encourage and assist me with their expertise.
  • I've had opportunity to review books, write blog posts for others, and pray for new friends who needed me to hold them up.

Without these contacts and networking I would have likely given up long ago and gone back to where I was safe, and had already put in many years of work building my expertise. I’m thankful that I haven’t allowed myself to let go yet.  The camaraderie of the writing community has been wonderful as well. 

Not only are there individuals that I rely on now, but also the groups.  We have a great group of friends who meet weekly to talk about all the different facets of writing – it’s called Writer’s Chat and technology is great because we use zoom from many different states to meet each week. (If you are a writer and would like to join us - just join the Facebook group here - https://www.facebook.com/groups/writerschat/   

I also joined the Word Weavers Community (check it out here) While there are many local community groups that meet, there wasn't a group close by so I joined an online one. ur online group meets once a month and we review each other’s work reading aloud - a 1000 word chunk of something we are writing, and then giving honest feedback to each other.  I value the input I receive in these meetings.  Both groups give me encouragement and help me learn while I am doing.  Not sure what I would do without either group – they both give me the push I need to work on these things that are difficult but enjoyable as well!  The really great thing is that they have both encouraged me that my writing is worthwhile and interesting.  That makes all the work worth it.

Lastly, I have learned that I need to align myself with people who are farther into the journey than I am. This means signing up for online classes and webinars about marketing and writing.  Or learning more about social media and email lists or in my case all of the above – I signed up for 12 online courses in January – I am a bit ambitious.  This also means submitting my work for critique or sitting in brainstorming sessions with those folks as well.  A lot of these things are not free, but it is a wise investment in my future work. Paying for expertise, even from my friends, lets them know I value their expertise, and helps me to take what we do seriously.  The accountability is motivating among these friendships.  Paying for services that friends offer also benefits their businesses - which in the writing life is huge.  I believe that the Bible teaches us that the worker is worthy of his wages I Tim. 5:18. If you are trying to find tools and resources to help you organize, plan, or move forward with queries and proposals etc. you can't go wrong with my friend Bethany Jett's services at Jettsetter Ink. Start with her blog - here and then be sure to check out resources, and planners, and training she offers.

Surround yourself with an encouraging community and see what you will accomplish.  The tips and experience is so beneficial.  Before long, you will that you can provide some of your own tips and experience to someone new that's just starting the journey you've already been on.  You'll be able to give back to someone else very soon.