The Woman With Two (or more) Brains!

I have made an interesting discovery lately. I have more than one brain. Not literally, obviously. But it’s like my brain has more than one operating system, like a computer that has Windows and Apple (and maybe Ubuntu, too, just for good measure) in parallel.

I have Writer Brain that’s designed to … well, write. I have Editor Brain that works very differently from Writer Brain. I have Strategy & Planning Brain that works completely differently from the other two. I probably have a few other Brains in there as well, but for the purposes of this blog post, I just want to talk about the three Brains I need for my job.

The thing is, I can only operate out of one of those Brains at a time. I have to disengage Editor Brain and Strategy Brain to write, and vice versa. I know how to summon or boot up Writer Brain. Just make myself sit down and start writing.  I know how to boot up Editor Brain–start reading. In fact, I can’t read anything and not shift into Editor Brain, which is quite annoying when I’m trying to enjoy a novel.

But I haven’t figured out yet how to summon or boot up Strategy Brain. When Strategy Brain shows up, all the pieces fit together and make sense. The order of things is clear. I can plan and organize and think things all the way through to the end. I come up with the most surprising, awesome, “how did I think of that?” ideas. It’s kind of marvelous.

But I can’t figure out how to make Strategy Brain show up on command.  Strategy Brain just sort of descends on me whenever she feels like it. Here are some other things I know about Strategy Brain:

  • Strategy Brain disappears when I’m tired or hungry or emotionally distraught.
  • The exception to that rule is sometimes when I’m extremely emotionally distraught, Strategy Brain will show up and bring an eerie calm with her.  It’s like Ativan or Kava tea, but without the somewhat dopey-sleepy side effects.
  • I would prefer not to intentionally provoke emotional drama in hopes that it will make Strategy Brain show up.
  • Strategy Brain often shows up when I make lists or put things in spreadsheets, even if they are silly lists and spreadsheets.
  • When Strategy Brain shows up unannounced, if possible, it’s best to let her run loose instead of insisting on doing whatever was on my schedule.  Because Strategy Brain is freakin’ brilliant.
What about you? Do you have more than one Brain? Have you figured out how to boot up the one you need, when you need it? Or have I convinced you that I’m just crazy (and not making it work for me)?
Sound off in the comments, peeps!


  1. ·

    I definitely do have more than one brain. It’s funny sometimes, I even merge into Proofreader Brain or Skimming Quickly Brain to deal with those tasks at work. And yes, Strategy Brain is the bomb… when she shows up, all the other Brains need to take a seat. Sister werks it!

  2. Kat French

    Alison – I forget about Proofreader Brain, who is like Editor Brain but more focused and a lot less forgiving. And I suspect I have Counselor Brain in there, too, who shows up predictably when people are telling me their tales of woe.

    Counselor Brain is never an explicit requirement of any job I’ve ever had, but she’s been a functional requirement at pretty much all of them! Every workplace needs a confessor, I guess.

    I hope your Strategy Brain shows up when you need her this week! 🙂


  3. ·

    Don’t get me started! Yes, at least two brains. This was identified years ago when I did one of those assessments that is intended to tell you what fields to go into. For me, it said it was very strongly recommended I try writing, painting, music or some other creative field … or accounting. The only areas I scored very high in were creativity and organization. (Maybe I should have gone into embezzling — creative accounting.)

    Interestingly, the organizational/accounting side (like when I get into spreadsheets) acts as a kind sanctuary from the creative side when I am stuck or otherwise frustrated and stressed.


  4. ·

    Oh … and that organizational brain is also the editor brain. It often butts in when I’m just writing, which is really annoying because it disrupts flow.

  5. Kat French

    Bill – I had a similar experience with the vocational assessments. I got ballerina, private investigator and lumberjack. And I totally agree about editor brain borking up the writing process. Sometimes I have to really fight to not try and write and edit at the same time, because the results are never good.


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