Work Patterns for the Way You Think

Mary Keeley

Blogger: Mary Keeley

I always assumed I was a process thinker through and through. But I’m learning that isn’t always the case. Sometimes my mind goes off on a creative tangent. Maybe it’s a matter of adapting, unknowingly, to the challenge before me. If that’s the case, then we need to adjust our work patterns, too, if we want to be productive.

It makes sense that among novelists, creative thinking is dominant. New stories flow from your mind in your sleep. There’s no turning off the spigot. Creative thinkers imagine new possibilities. You’re intuitive, subjective, and at times emotional.Left Brain Right Brain

But process thinkers face the work before them and see what needs to happen to accomplish the desired result. Then they implement systems to help them get there. Dominant characteristics for these thinkers are: objective, focused, logical, sequential, and rational.

In a former life novelists needed only to exercise their creative minds. But in today’s reality your challenge is to adapt to process thinking when managing the business side of your writing career. Process thinkers, on the other hand, have to adapt to creative thinking to brainstorm fresh new ideas and book concepts in the highly competitive market. I see this struggle most often in submissions from nonfiction writers. Coming up with a creative approach to their already-written-about topic challenges their creative thinking.

Have you identified your primary thinker type? Now, let’s talk about work patterns that will help you when you have to utilize non-dominant thinking.

Creative thinkers tend to get distracted easily. So when you need to rein in their minds and focus on strategizing your marketing plan, you might need to close your door to have total quiet. Maybe even close your window shade if the view outside is sending you off-track. But have enough light in the room. Soft lighting is too cozy. Don’t forget to take your caffeine drink of choice and a light healthy snack with you, because you won’t be leaving your seat until you’ve completed the task at hand.

As you might suspect, process thinkers need opposite types of work patterns when they need to think creatively. We love working with our Excel spreadsheets and record-keeping systems. But when you process-thinking writers concept your next book, you have to think creatively to find a new way to approach the topic. Surround yourself with creative stimuli. After you make a list of published books similar to your topic, noting the way each one approached it, go for a walk and take in the creation around you. If you don’t have time for that, at least step away from your computer at regular intervals. The exercise stimulates your brain. Review what you’ve written with fresh eyes when you get back to your computer. If it helps, play classical music softly or turn on a radio to hear voices in the background. White noise stimulates your brain and may keep you from slipping back into process mode.

God knew we would need to switch back and forth between right-brain/creative and left-brain/process thinking when he created our amazingly adaptive brains. Yours is equipped to handle both. You can maximize your productivity when you match your work patterns with the thinking you need to do.

Are you naturally a creative thinker or a process thinker? How will you adapt your work patterns when you have to do non-dominant thinking?


Writers need to be both creative thinkers and process thinkers in their career today. Click to Tweet.