Episode 040 – Getting into the Writing Flow

In this week’s episode, we talk about the flow state for writers: how to get into it and how to maintain it in order to get the best out of our writing time.

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Inforgraphic summary of article. Text reads:
Writing Flow
Understanding Flow: Achieving flow enhances creativity, productivity, and satisfaction in writing.
Pre-Writing Ritual: Consistent rituals can signal your brain it's time to write, easing the transition into flow.
Minimize Distractions: Create a dedicated, disturbance-free space to maintain focus and enter flow state more easily.
Set Clear Objectives: Knowing your session's goal can sharpen focus, aiding quicker immersion in flow.
Warm Up: Engage in exercises like free writing or using prompts to get your creative gears moving.
Maintain Momentum: Keep going once in flow; resist editing to preserve creative momentum.

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Welcome to Writer Roadmap, the podcast for writers seeking inspiration, guidance, and support on their creative journey. I’m Holly Lyne, ready to guide you through another crucial aspect of the writing life: getting into the zone, or as psychologists call it, the flow state. It’s that magical place where words pour out effortlessly, and time seems to stand still. Today, we’re unlocking the secrets to this coveted state: why it’s beneficial, how to invite it in with a simple ritual, and techniques to maintain it. So, grab your notebook, and let’s dive into the flow.

Let’s start with understanding the benefits of flow. When we write in a flow state, we achieve more in less time, our creativity spikes, and our work’s quality improves. It’s as if the conscious critic steps back, allowing the subconscious muse to take the reins. This not only boosts our productivity but also enhances our overall satisfaction with the writing process. But how do we get there? How do we turn a moment of inspiration into a lasting state of concentration and creativity?

One effective strategy is creating a pre-writing ritual. This ritual can be as simple as brewing a specific type of tea, lighting a candle, or setting up your workspace in a particular way. The key is consistency. This ritual signals to your brain that it’s time to write, paving the way for a smoother transition into the flow state.

Now, let’s talk techniques. First up, minimize distractions. This might mean turning off your phone, using apps that block social media, or writing at times when you’re least likely to be disturbed. Create an environment that tells the world—and yourself—that this time is sacred. If you can’t be alone in your writing space, make sure that the people who share it understand the importance of leaving you in peace. You might keep the door closed and place a notice board on the other side of it so that people can leave you notes, rather than interrupting you. If you’re a parent, you might find your best writing times are those when the children are asleep or out of the house.

Some people find it helpful to set clear objectives. Before you start, know what you want to achieve in that session. It could be writing a certain number of words or finishing a scene. This clarity focuses your mind, making it easier to slip into the flow. Whether you’re an outliner or a discovery writer, having the kind of objective that suits your process can help you to remain focused.

You may be someone who benefits from being consistent in when you show up. The same time and place each day signals your brain that it’s time to go and helps you get into flow more quickly.

Another technique is to warm up. Just like athletes, writers can benefit from a warm-up exercise. This could be free writing, journalling, or using a writing prompt. The goal is to get your mental gears turning, ready for the task at hand. It can sometimes take a little time for our minds to shift gears from the ordinary world, to our own created one. So having a way to bridge that gap may help. You may have a cover, character art or a map to examine to help you do that, or perhaps reading over the last page or chapter you wrote is your way in.

Maintain momentum. Once you’re in the flow, keep going. Resist the urge to edit or critique your work in the moment. There’s plenty of time for that later. For now, ride the wave of your creativity. Quick changes on the fly are fine, and many of us can’t just leave those, but don’t allow yourself to pause on a word choice. Just drop in the first word that comes to mind. It’s usually the right one. Your intuition knows what it’s doing.

We’re all different, but many authors find it helpful to play some sort of background sound while they write. It might be a playlist specific to your book, or one created by someone else that happens to fit the mood of what you’re writing. Some listen to ambient noise such as rain or coffee shop sounds. Listening with headphones can help to get you into the zone and keep you there for the duration of your writing session.

One thing that helps me is to do writing sprints with other people. We get together, usually on Zoom, set a timer and all write for that duration. The pomodoro method works brilliantly for a lot of people – this is where you write for 25 minutes, break for 5 and then repeat as many times as you like. Personally, I find it takes a little longer to get into flow and 25 minutes cuts me off in the middle of it, so I prefer longer sprints of 45 minutes. But experiment and find the best way for you. I find the accountability of writing with others to be helpful and the short chats between sprints provide a nice break and the chance to talk over any issues I’m having with people who get it.

And finally, practice mindfulness. Being present and fully engaged with your writing can help maintain flow. If you find your mind wandering, gently guide it back to the work. Remember, flow is as much about mental state as it is about environment and preparation.

Finding and maintaining a state of flow isn’t just about making our writing sessions more productive—it’s about enjoying the process, rediscovering the joy of creation, and reconnecting with our passion for storytelling. So, I encourage you to experiment with these techniques, find what works for you, and make it a part of your writing ritual.

That’s all for today’s journey on Writer Roadmap. I hope you’ve found some valuable strategies to help you find your flow and make your writing sessions even more rewarding. Remember, every writer’s path is unique, and the key to success is finding what resonates with you.

If you’ve discovered your own methods for getting into the flow, I’d love to hear about them. Join the conversation on our social media, and let’s continue to inspire and support each other in our writing endeavours.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Writer Roadmap for more insights and inspiration. Share this episode with a fellow writer who might be seeking their flow. Until next time, keep writing, keep dreaming, and keep navigating your path with purpose.

Writer Roadmap intro and outro music used under license from Pixabay. Music track “Salangseuleoun” was Created by “Dayfox”.

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