The Flow

If you’ve written regularly then you have probably had the experience of entering the flow of the story you are telling so deeply that you lose conscious awareness of where you are sitting and of the passage of time. Once within the flow, no effort is required to drive the story forward; rather our skill is employed merely to keep up with the current. Sometimes, it feels so good to be in this flow it almost feels like cheating. Writing was supposed to be hard; this is effortless. For years I believed that these moments of swift, storytelling effortlessness were the consequence of hard work paid forward until it collided with some good luck. I eventually grew tired of this laborious view of writing. I decided that I would deliberately seek the river rather than waiting until I fell into it. It wasn’t long before I began to find that flow regularly. Not always – but doing something even once on purpose teaches me most of what I need to know about what is possible.

Still, I believed this flow was unique to the arts, sports, and sex. The whole life, meanwhile, was another matter. It was busy, and noisy, and crowded, and things were always running into other things and it was mostly an adult’s job just to stay afloat. That was the reality from which the arts, sports, and sex were happy refuges.

However, after years of seeking that swift current in my writing I have come to understand that to be in the flow is actually the natural state for writing, and being out of the flow is a consequence of doubting – even to this day – that it exists. So too for the rest of life. The flow is not some magical ridge given me by a benign muse; the flow is life. The flow is life when I stop trying to make it and instead only perceive it. The flow is the only ride heading anywhere, and all the sweat and suffering and dog paddling around it are only dreams from which I awaken when I find the real water.


Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion.

"A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.

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