Here’s To Writing and Your Your Brain! Cheers! by Amy Kennedy

Why does suckitude set in when we have a goal? It’s almost as if one part of our brain says, Yay! I’m going to be a best-selling author! As another part reacts with: that sounds scary and risky and riddled with failure, and failure is bad and so is sticking out your neck, remember that one time? Let’s look at Facebook instead.


I was at a writer’s event recently where I heard Roseanne Bane speak on brain science and writing–wow, it turns out one part of your brain wants to write, whereas another part sees it as a literal threat. And the part that wants to write doesn’t know the other part has Shut. It. Down.  The part that wants to write, the cortex, thinks it’s a loser and lazy and a procrastinator–the two parts do not talk to each other because the part that sees it as a threat, the limbic, has no LANGUAGE.




So…the side with no language the limbic or lizard brain (yeah, like anyone should listen to a lizard brain…okay, well, you should listen to the lizard brain if you’re actually in danger–then it’s the boss) puts the kibosh on it. Then, the part with language gets  to make up all kinds of stories as to why you’re a lazy stupid lump. Yay!


Here’s. The. Thing. Are you going to let a lizard tell you what to do? I think not!


Here are some of Bane’s suggestions, with my comments:

Downtime: “The brain requires rest to retain what it’s learned.” Yup. Whatcha doin? Nothin. Perfect. I have one of my downtimes (nearly) every morning; #onegoodcup project is my peaceful time. It’s awesome for ideas…or just daydreaming.

Sleep: “A sleep deprived brain cannot be creative” We all know we need sleep, we know it and we laugh at it. Okay, I really do try to get 7-8 hours every night, my brain and my face appreciate it, but sometimes one more episode of Game of Thrones, Hell on Wheels, Daredevil, or Gilmore Girls is calling your name soooo sweetly. And honestly, once in a while, we all need a little binge watching…at least, I think we do.

Exercise: “exercise doesn’t just improve your body; it improves brain function” Oy! I know this! I feel amazing when I move my body. And when I move my body I tend to get really good ideas too, gosh-darnit!

Focus: “Writing requires a special kind of focus”  I swear, the word “focus” will be my next tattoo. I’ve written about this, I’ve read about this. I’m working on this.

Meditation: “rewires your brain” I know! Right?! Again, I always feel so in the now when I’ve meditated, but there’s always so much to dooooooooooo. I have been able to squeeze in an occasional mini meditation after my one good cup,

Play: “makes your brain more powerful” One of my favorite things that I think I’m doing, but I’m not actually doing, I’m only thinking about doing. Got that?


I know that some folks have a few of these added to their ROW80 goals–that is fantastic. What I didn’t realize was how much they really have to do with our creativity. So, by the time you read this, I will have added these into my ROW80 goals. This was meant as an inspiration piece for all of you — but, it turns out, all of you have inspired me. Thanks!


Amy Kennedy

2 thoughts on “Here’s To Writing and Your Your Brain! Cheers! by Amy Kennedy

  1. OK, I seriously LOVE this! Last fall, i read My Stroke of Insight, by brain scientist Jill Bolte Taylor. She discusses the limbic system at some length. I’ve dhared some details about it with my kids, like how the limbic takeover lasts for about 90 seconds, so, if we can breathe through the need to respond to it for that long, we can start to think rationally again.

    Might work when it’s insisting that writing is a threat….

    I also play with limbic systems in my fan fiction. In us humans, pretty much everything goes first through the limbic system, which decides whether it’s a threat (and pretty much thinks the answer is yes).

    My theory is that Vulcans have evolved a complex neural net around the limbic region of the brain, and most input is channeled to the cortex before it reaches the primal brain…but when a Vulcan’s limbic system IS triggered, it’s going to take a lot longer than 90 seconds to release them, and they aren’t capable of language or anything remotely approaching rational thought until it does.

    I’ve got a few precedents I work from – but the entire fact that I write fan fiction (and binge-watch Enterprise rather than sleep, at times), is one of the ways I engage my brain in play…

    I’m sharing this post on my writer page, and I hope you remember it when you’re telling yourself you’re lazy – because you’re not! =)

  2. That’s a brilliant post Amy! What an interesting take on the writer’s brain. Oh how we all suffer from some form of this. 🙂

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