On Going Generative (Or, How Not to Kneecap Yourself with Whole Brain Thinking)

Apr 05, 2021

By Christine Carron

Today is the midpoint of our Whole Brain adventure on the blog. Sweet! 

Two weeks ago, we introduced the Herrmann Whole Brain Model. Last week, we analyzed the Plotter versus Pantser dynamic from a Whole Brain perspective. With just those two reference points, you may be seeing familiar activities, relationships, individuals, or even yourself in a new way, thanks to this Whole Brain* lens. 

Last week, we also promised to show you a way to use Whole Brain Thinking to joyfully embody a task that perhaps you don’t generally like to do, or perhaps avoid doing, even though you know it would help you on your writing adventure. We intend to keep that promise, but here’s the thing: You now know enough about Whole Brain Thinking to be dangerous. 

So, before we can get to the joyful embodying, we need to sort out the danger part. We’ll do that by surfacing a common misconception about Whole Brain Thinking. If we do not root out this misconception, you might end up kneecapping yourself with it (ouch!), instead of Going Generative. 

Going Generative

Any tool can be used as a destructive force or a generative force. Words can wound or uplift. A hammer can shatter or build. Here at Goodjelly, we focus on the generative. And we give it an official, proper noun name: Going Generative. In context of your writing adventure, Going Generative is any application of a tool that nurtures your growth, expands your range, or adds possibility to your writing or storyteller prowess. It is about making the shift, over and over, to your (and others’) greater writerly good. 

The opposite dynamic, which we call Deviating to the Destructive, is any application of a tool that constricts your growth, shrinks your range, limits writerly possibility. That common misconception about the Whole Brain Model that we are building up to is total Deviator material.

The Most Common Misconception about Whole Brain Thinking

This misconception might seem benign at first. Don’t be fooled. That’s part of its Deviator prowess. We will write the misconception as a formula:

The Misconception 
Preferences = Skills

Why is that misconception about preferences and skills such a problem? Why does it kneecap us from Going Generative? 

Well, if it were true, you could only do activities that aligned with your preferences. So in context of writing, if you don’t have a high Blue preference, sorry you can’t do research for your novel. If you don’t have high Green, no plotting allowed. No Red? Sorry, no dancing with a character’s emotions. No Yellow? Bye-bye story themes and imaginative plot twists. 

The Truth
Preferences ≠ Skills

Are preference and skills related? Absolutely. But as my friend Lahonna recently said, “Oh, Christine, I can do a whole lot of things that I don’t enjoy doing.” 

Lahonna's don’t enjoy is code for don’t have a preference for

While it is never fun to spend time doing what we don’t enjoy doing, the fact that we can do them is an extraordinary testament to human capacity and grit. It also creates a magical door for us. A door that opens to the possibility of making the less fun, more fun. We just have to learn how to unlock that door. Whole Brain Thinking can help.

On Going Generative Joyfully 

Now that we’ve taken this week to root out that common misconception about Whole Brain Thinking, we can flow into using the model to help us situationally shift into (i.e., unlock that magical door to) the skills that require us to step into our less preferred modes of thinking. Skills that, at the moment, we may find less enjoyable or maybe even avoid. 

They may also be the very skills that we know will enhance our writing adventure. So come back next week, when we will dive into bringing the joy to—or at least defanging the angst from—those writing skills that don’t sit squarely inside our preferences sweet spot. 

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* Here is the Whole Brain Model to have handy as a reference:

Herrmann Whole Brain Thinking Model


The Goodjelly Prompt of the Week

  1. Make two lists. First, of writing and story-telling activities that you love to do. Second, of the writing and story-telling activities that you suffer through or avoid. 
  2. What might those two lists tell you about your thinking preferences?
  3. Look at the activities on your Suffer/Avoid list. If you could do those with greater ease what would the effect be on your writing and storytelling?
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