Theory of Brain-Compatible Writing
Sign and Design Minds are Complementary
Human beings are capable of processing the world in two distinct ways: Named Sign and Design mind by Gabriele Rico, the Sign mind (left hemisphere) thinks linearly, parts-specifically, logically, one step at a time, while the Design mind (right hemisphere) thinks in whole patterns, drawing on images, emotional webs, sensory patterns, as in a memory that suddenly flashes into consciousness as a complex whole.
Although writing requires Sign mind sequencing, writing also requires global search strategies for what groups together, requiring the Design mind’s non-linear jostling of emotions, memories, ideas. A too-hasty emphasis on Sign mind sequencing often shuts down the search strategies of our Design mind.
Clustering, developed by Gabriele Rico in her doctoral work, is largely a Design mind process. This non-linear brain-storming encourages playfulness, wide instead of narrow attention, and mental flexibility. By letting Design mind associations spill onto the page, clustering makes this non-linear search for patterns visible, manipulable, and so, teachable and learnable—long before the Sign mind steps in. Once both sides of the brain have a say in the writing process, the creative potential inherent in all of us is activated. The resulting writing flows quickly and easily.
In 1999 the split-brain pioneer neurosurgeon, Joseph Bogen re-emphasized two unalterable facts about hemispheric specialization by listing the lessons of split-brain research of the past 40 years: