Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Right hand/left hand

This is my attempt at a useful post. I've moaned about mentioned my tendency towards writers block since this blog was born. And today I thought I'd talk about a method that really helped me with one story in particular. The story Omelette won third place in the inaugural Words with Jam short story competition a couple of years ago, so I feel confident in sharing this method with you.

What you do is swap the hand you normally write with!

That's it. How easy!

This isn't my invention - I read about it, but I can't remember where.

The theory behind it is that writing with the wrong hand makes you concentrate much harder on the actual mechanics of forming the words on the page, which leaves your subconscious mind free to be creative.

Try this:
Start with the sentence When I was younger my favourite toy was...


Remember to write it with the wrong hand, and don't analyse the content - that's very important: don't censor yourself!

When I tried it myself, I managed to pull out a long forgotten incident involving my mum, which was nothing to do with my favourite toy. It's a great way to stop writers block in its tracks.

Part of Omelette written normally...


... and with my left/wrong hand

So, how did you get on?


43 comments:

  1. That is brilliant! I am testing this out tomorrow!

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  2. I dislocated my shoulder too badly to get my hand onto a desk midway through my junior year of high school. I had to write with my left hand all the time, so it doesn't work for me anymore.

    But another exercise like this but for drawing and painting is to take a picture and turn it upside down and then draw it. It's pretty much the same principle. Still awesome stuff.

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    1. That's interesting about the drawing - unfortunately I have no talent for painting/drawing at all.

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  3. So, writing with your left hand - did you end up with a smeared ink mess? I am a lefty and generally finish a day at work with blue or black ink on several fingers. I'm not a "curled hand in a weird position" lefty.
    As for writing right-handed, not too tough to do. It's such a right handed world, I'm a bit ambidextrous - so my brain's muddled no matter what - ha!
    Good experiment though.

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    1. I didn't have any of those 'practical' problems at all. I wrote very, very slowly though :-)

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  4. I can't read my writing when I use the correct hand!

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    1. Perhaps you're already using the wrong hand, Alex?

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  5. What an incredibly cool exercise! Methinks I shall, ahem, try my hand at it.

    Thanks, A.

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    1. I'd love to know how you get on, Suze.

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  6. I love this idea and I might give it a try but I"m with Alex - I can barely read my writing when I use my right hand and when I'm trying to be neat. :)

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    1. I'm always super neat on the first page of a new notebook, but descend quickly into a scrawl - just like when I was at school!

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  7. This sounds like an excellent idea! I'll have to give it a try. :)

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    1. Please come back and tell me how it goes.

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  8. I've never heard of this before. Writers block isn't something I have issues with, but I'll certainly make a note of this for the future! :)

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    1. I think it works even without being blocked, it just allows for a different train of thought.

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  9. Hey, this is definitely an idea worth remembering. I'll have to try it out sometime :)

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

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    1. I'd love to know if you try it, Sarah.

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  10. i am thinking of doing it soon !
    :)

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  11. Wow, you write pretty well with the wrong hand. Mine wouldn't even be legible, lol. I'll have to try it!

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    1. I was surprised I could read it myself! It takes a lot of concentration to form the letters, but that's the whole point.

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  12. Oh my goodness! I never thought of this, but it's quite brilliant! I'm going to try this tonight when I get the kiddos to bed. So glad you shared. :)

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  13. I might try this with my writing group for a bit of fun...mind you I'm not sure we'll be able to read what we have written afterwards.

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    1. It would be a brilliant exercise for a writing group!

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  14. I can't write with my left hand to save my life. Fortunately, I am not currently suffering from writer's block. ;)

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    1. If you practice, you will eventually. It's also a good way of warding off dementia etc, apparently, because the neural connections are fired up again!

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  15. I love this, will get straight on to it as soon as I leave here. Like Rena above though, I broke my arm when I was nine and had to write with the 'other' hand, being my left, and have to say, did get quite accomplished at it. For years I could revert but haven't tried since my teens so it will be interesting to see if any of it has stuck. I carried some other left handed things over from that time, slicing bread, for example, and, most bizarrely, ironing! Kudos to my mum for having me ironing when I was nine!!! Must talk to my 13 and 12 year olds about this... great post!

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    1. Hmmm... I think I should be asking for help with my ironing too!

      My son was able to swap between hands for years, until my mum (grrr, grandparents!!) told him to choose, and made him self-conscious! I wasn't very happy when I found that out.

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  16. I used to write with the "wrong" hand all the time when I was a kid. My best friend was a leftie and lefties are supposed to be the creative types and I wanted to be a writer, so I wrote left handed.

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    1. Ah, but as Joanne mentioned further up, they also spend a lot more time covered in ink :-)

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  17. What a cool technique! I've never tried that but will keep it in mind:)

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    1. Let me know how it goes, if you try it!

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  18. That's a new one! I'll try that one out, problem is I'm not sure I'll be able to read what I wrote, I'm so right-handed.

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  19. I can barely my handwriting, let alone something written with my left hand, but I might give that a try :)

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  20. What an interesting idea! I am TERRIBLY right-handed, though, so I think I would be super frustrated with this method.

    Allison (Geek Banter)

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  21. Susan, Jennie and Allison - as you all said pretty much the same thing, I thought I'd reply to you altogether.

    The idea is you concentrate so much on the writing that you allow your subconscious a free reign. I think if you could write well with your wrong hand, the method wouldn't work as well!

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  22. Gosh. Your wrong-hand writing is remarkably legible. I've not heard of that method before. Must give it a try. Someone said recently (can't remember who) about drawing a picture under the table so you couldn't see what you were drawing to get rid of inhibitions that adults have about not being able to draw. I haven't tried that either.

    There's a booker award for you at my blog if you'd like to pop over. :-)

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    1. Drawing under the table sounds like a great idea - I'll have to try that, I might discover the artist within me.

      I'll pop over and check out the award now - thanks Rosalind!

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  23. Your left handed writing is very good! Mine would be terrible and wouldn't even be in straight lines. Even my normal handwriting has deteriorated terribly because I do almost all my writing on the computer. But it does sound like a good idea. I also broke my right wrist when I was nine. I don't remember it too well but I must have managed somehow...

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    1. I was writing on lined paper. When I was little I could never write in straight lines with my good hand - but I wasn't allowed to progress to lined paper until I could master that elusive skill...

      I'm worried by the amount of 9-year-olds injuring themselves. #2 son will be in cotton wool for the whole of next year!

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  24. Hi Annalisa,

    I love to write but I'm not good at it because I'm not a native speaker. I'm not sure if this method would help me but I will certainly give it a try. Hope you could visit my blog some day and drop some comments that can help me improve.

    Have a nice day!

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Please comment - I love a good chat!