This Is Your Brain On Writing

This Is Your Brain on Writing

JUNE 20, 2014

Carl Zimmer

A novelist scrawling away in a notebook in seclusion may not seem to have much in common with an NBA player doing a reverse layup on a basketball court before a screaming crowd. But if you could peer inside their heads, you might see some striking similarities in how their brains were churning.

That’s one of the implications of new research on the neuroscience of creative writing. For the first time, neuroscientists have used fMRI scanners to track the brain activity of both experienced and novice writers as they sat down — or, in this case, lay down — to turn out a piece of fiction.

The researchers, led by Martin Lotze of the University of Greifswald in Germany, observed a broad network of regions in the brain working together as people produced their stories. But there were notable differences between the two groups of subjects. The inner workings of the professionally trained writers in the bunch, the scientists argue, showed some similarities to people who are skilled at other complex actions, like music or sports.

Haiku Conversation: Elizabeth Searle Lamb and Miriam Sagan


A new little book from Miriam’s Well, in which I respond to Elizabeth’s haiku with my own.

dreaming the dream
that is not a dream moonlight
in the dreamcatcher


moonlight on snow crust
dark trunks of trees
New Year’s dream


You can buy it at

for a FREE review copy–review in print magazine, e-zine, blog, or even Facebook–write me privately at


Still Thinking About Sand

I had the opportunity recently to have an iced tea and gyro sandwich with one of the stars in my artistic constellation, eco-artist Basia Irland. She suggested using votive candles to light up the sand installation I’ll do in December. An exciting idea. Maybe “illuminated” capitals.


Here is one of Irland’s drawings in the sand of an estuary on the Oregon coast–an image of archoastronomy.

Poem by Michael G. Smith

Taking New Names

And what if each day we take
a new name? What if some time
night chooses? Ask me
about the burden of Achilles,
the gravity of hidden blood vessels.

But when I get to choose I would
choose the river’s. I would choose
where flow tide gathers mountain spawn.
I would choose eddy, the report
of spring thaw.

I would choose your name, for you
tender the volumes and edges
of love I have missed.
For you share the inner gales
after I twist the knife.


Haiku and Tanka Poet Revells in The Moment

I just discovered this interesting haiku site that I think will be of interest to Miriam’s Well readers, as is the interview with a haiku poet who is new to me. Enjoy!

Charlotte Digregorio's Writer's Blog

Canadian Marje A. Dyck  has been a fixture on the haiku scene for many years. In a recent interview that you will enjoy, Marje tells us about her passion for haiku and tanka, the latter, five-line lyrical poems with a maximum of 31 syllables.

1) What are your four favorite haiku in your book, A Piece of the Moon?still blue water

in the long cool evening
the sound of geese leaving

distant glimmer
of a beach fire-
autumn moonrise

smoke over the river
the restlessness
of crows

spring geese
in the shimmering
bend of the river

2) What are your four favorite tanka in Still Blue Water?

the forest at midnight
neither moon nor stars-
then going our own way
the wolf and I

delicate profile
of a deer on shore
heron in the reeds-
what more do I need
from this solitary moment

winding road
bordered with…

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