Good News!

I’m interrupting our regularly scheduled programming (I usually reserve Thursdays for introducing new symbols and creativity exercises in the symbols for writers series) for a spot of good news:

I just had my first nonfiction book published: Voyagers in Space.

Voyagers in Space_Reading A-Z Level S Leveled Book

Voyagers in Space is a leveled reader produced by Reading A-Z, a publisher that produces a broad range of leveled reading material for classroom use. As such, it’s not a book you’ll find in the library or bookstore–it’s only available for Reading A-Z subscribers.

I loved this project, and I’m delighted with how the final version came out. Thanks for celebrating with me!

:~) Cheryl


The Right Brain, Left Brain Divide

Everyone has a dominant brain hemisphere, left or right. That dominant hemisphere dictates the types of mental processing that come most naturally to you—that is, your “default” thinking style.


Photo Credit

If your left hemisphere is dominant, you probably approach problems logically. You can use rules, regulations, and real-world consequences to help make decisions. You can assemble individual pieces of information into a logical whole, and you are skilled with using words work through your ideas. Your strengths include the ability to dissect and analyze problems.

If your right hemisphere is dominant, you’re more likely to approach problems based on feelings and intuition. You process information creatively, but you may need to see the big picture in order to make sense of individual pieces of information. Your strengths include the ability to make creative leaps and think outside the box and make unexpected connections.

In my experience, those who fall on one side of the right brain, left brain divide often look down on those on the other side. Organized, analytical types consider the creative (right brain) folks scattered and spacey. Creative, spontaneous folks think those left brain people are uptight and rigid.

Guess what? [Tweet “Both right brain and left brain modes have essential roles in the creative process.”]

Understanding the differences between right brain and left brain thinking—and knowing your default thinking style—will allow you to

  • Identify potential weaknesses in your thought patterns and compensate for them
  • Identify your mental strengths and capitalize on them
  • Access unfamiliar right brain or left brain thinking strategies to broaden your creative and problem-solving skills

Embracing the Whole

Right brain and left brain thinking reflect the way your brain usually works, but not the only way it works. Just as a right-handed musician can learn to finger violin notes with the left hand, right brain thinkers can learn to apply left brain thinking techniques and vice versa.

How do I know this? Because this overly analytical, left brain thinker recently accepted a challenge: For one month, I would approach problems and situations first by using my intuition, feelings, and gut instincts. It sounded crazy and illogical to someone who lives by logic and reasoning—but I was stuck. Logic and reasoning weren’t getting me where I needed to go.

I discovered that just because right brain strategies aren’t “logical” doesn’t mean they don’t work.

If you’re a left brain thinker, like me, you can broaden your problem-solving skills by practicing right brain strategies:

  • Assess the emotional aspects of a situation
  • Visualize the situation and/or its solution
  • Look at the “big picture” for inspiration, rather than dissecting a problem into smaller parts
  • Take a walk, shower, or journal—and use the time to pay attention to your intuition
  • Ask yourself questions that prompt intuitive answers: How do I feel about this problem? What do I need right now?

If you’re a right brain thinker, you face a different set of problems. You may have trouble with structure and details, and you may become bogged down by clutter, disorganization, and feelings of overwhelm. Next time you feel stuck, experiment with left brain thinking strategies:

  • Create a timeline
  • List pros and cons
  • Make a to-do list
  • Break a problem down into smaller pieces and analyze them individually
  • Assess your project using a logical structure or sequence

Most of the time, you want to work with your brain, not against it. For instance, the rigid schedule that works beautifully for Mr. Joe Left-Brain will feel like a straight jacket to Rachel Right-Brain, and the unstructured lifestyle that frees Rachel Right-Brain’s creativity will drive Mr. Joe Left-Brain crazy. If you’re a square peg, don’t try to squish yourself into a round hole.

But if your default right brain or left brain approach isn’t working…well, then it might be time to try an approach outside your comfort zone.

Are You a Right Brain or Left Brain Thinker?

  • Take this simple test to see which side of your brain is dominant.
  • Or take this test from the Catawbe Valley Community College for a more detailed analysis of your right brain and left brain tendencies.


Fun Publishing News

My friend and fellow writer, the fabulous Anna-Maria Crum, announced the release of her new interactive picture book Monster Numbers. It is SOOOO cute! This is an app for the iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. The program will read the story and count the monster parts—or you can record your own narration for a personal touch.

imageI’ve purchased a few picture/photo books for the Kindle and been sorely disappointed. The Kindle format is great for text, but isn’t kind to a book’s layout—resulting in picture books where the pictures are divorced from the relevant text and captions and graphs are difficult or impossible to read.

I love Anna-Maria’s book/app, because it takes advantage of the medium to accomplish more than a picture book could. It’s not a game, though—it retains that picture book feel but adds an interactive touch seldom found in an actual hard-copy book.

Plus it’s easier to pack :).

Another successful book-for-iPad effort I’ve seen recently is Bats! Furry Fliers of the Night, by nonfiction children’s book author Mary Kay Carson. This book/app is written slightly older readers, but it’s so filled with fascinating facts, illustrations, text, and animations that my high school kids confiscated it to read. This book, too, takes advantage of the medium with panoramic screen shots that give you the feeling that you’re flying through the forest. “Callouts” offer sketches, additional facts, and photos.

I’ve never seen a book experience quite like this one…but then again, I’m not an expert in the growing electronic picture book world.

Have you seen any great book apps for the tablets, smart phones, or other devices? Any features that work especially well for the electronic format?

10 Ways to Spark Creative Connections

I shared yesterday that my writing coach challenged me to use the intuitive side of my mind for my first approach to problem-solving during the month of March, and how doing so has been challenging, educational, and surprisingly beneficial.

h.koppdelaney-3 Photo Credit

One unexpected benefit came by what I like to call the “red car” effect—the tendency to notice red cars (or anything else) the second you start thinking about them. By keeping the idea of intuition/right brain thinking top of my mind for the past month, I began to notice it more often. By noticing when my intuition was engaged, I was better able to take advantage of the insights it offered.

I also started to notice some of the approaches that helped me to engage the more intuitive side of my mind when writing, and thought I’d share them with you. Hope these are helpful!

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