Betty Edwards, author of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, teaches her art students to turn photographs upside down in order to trick the mind’s eye while they’re drawing a portrait. Seeing an upside-down nose and philtrum allows the right side of the brain to accurately capture shadows and lines without the pesky left hemisphere insisting a nose is made up of two vertical lines with two dark circles along its bottom edge.
When I create a logo, illustrate a cartoon character or layout a Web page, I flip my designs upside-down to note spatial gaps, channels of white space and linear slants that I wouldn’t otherwise have noticed. This process is similar to editing. Of course in writing, turning pages or storylines upside down is a conceptual technique, not a physical act.
In Naomi Epel’s The Observation Deck, she suggests flipping over ideas, plots, or character traits—in fact, seeking any opposite in your literal writing practice or story that allows you to write with a different perspective. Write on a computer? Write by hand for a day. Does your heroine always do the right thing? Have her screw her life up in a single, imploding paragraph. If you’re writing a non-fiction piece with point of view, give the opposite viewpoint. Or, put your outline in reverse: Start with the baby and end prior to the pregnancy.
Perspective-shifting devices work well for single creative sessions. In the next day’s session, when you’re back in the groove of your original storyline, you’ll find your right-side-up point of view refreshed and your focus renewed.