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  • nancywaldman


Next time you write in your journal, switch the pen to your other hand and write. I know. I know. You can’t write with your other hand. Never mind. Try it anyway. Writing with our non-dominant hand can have interesting results because it confuses our brain. Part of that protest you just put up about not wanting to write with the wrong hand was your brain’s way of keeping things predictable. That’s okay. That’s its job. Let’s face it: we function because our practical brains are in charge. Our brains do a phenomenal job of keeping the world understandable and keeping our bodies and behaviours in sync with that world. But the parts of our brain that are so effective at everyday life, may not be the parts that give us the best results when it comes to pure creativity.

Since creativity may be useless, nonsensical, playful, wordless, metaphorical, musical, messy, and so on, the practical brain that serves us so well, needs a little nudge to get out of the way while we create. Try writing with your ‘wrong’ hand to make this happen.

Why does this work? Our non-dominant hand is linked to the non-dominant hemisphere of our brain. Some studies indicate that one hemisphere is active when using the dominant hand, but both hemispheres are activated when the non-dominant hand is used. Either way, many people find that they ‘think differently’ or that surprising things get written down when using the non-dominant hand.

I should caution you that therapists having used this technique have found that some people access primitive and raw emotions, so I am not suggesting here that this be used as therapy. If you are interested in that, please be sure that you’re working with a trained professional first. (I used to have a link to this finding, but it’s gone away. Do a search if you’re interested in finding out more.)

The use of this technique here is suggested as a warm-up to further creative activity. It’s suggested as a way to circumvent the linear part of our brain and get into the wordless, metaphorical, visual part.

There are other ways that one can use this technique. If you have an everyday situation that needs problem-solving, try writing about it with your non-dominant hand. See if, by doing so, you can come up with a more ‘creative’ solution than you’ve considered previously.

Another possibility is to use it when you want to remember or learn something new. I have a friend who wants to improve her vocabulary. While she’s having her coffee each morning, she copies words from the dictionary using her ‘wrong’ hand. She swears that her memory for the words is more reliable now. She even reports beating her husband in SCRABBLE for the first time after doing this for a few weeks. Now that’s worth something! 8) Remember…both sides of the brain being are being activated. She just might have something here.

Try it. Politely and gently—using bad handwriting—ask your everyday brain to step aside for awhile while creativity and new ways of thinking are explored.

See why R-mindfulness changed to C-mindfulness at The Practically Creative Quarter. Click on C-mindfulness at The PCQ to read about other ways of accessing your C-mind.

This post is a re-print from The Practically Creative Quarter, the creativity site that I started in 2005. There are lots of articles, most with pictures. Go see!

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