Front Yard: How to Get the Writer’s Flow and Keep It!

front yardFirst, can I squee at the Once Upon a Time season finale? It’s my guilty pleasure, what cantumblr_inline_n5h7s5FpSi1qgf4wj I say, but I loved it.

The Hook and Emma stuff was great. Hook being all jealous of his old self kissing Emma was played so well, for laughs but to also show us how Hook has changed, so much so, he hates the idea of his old self smacking on Emma! Their kiss at the end melted my bones 🙂 I was kinda irritated with how they twisted Regina once again, getting her romance messed up, this time by Emma instead of Snow. I mean, she did jail, and possibly kill Marian, did she not?

I started watching Fringe on Netflix and I’m surprised I haven’t watched it before. I’m only on season one (can’t binge watch too much with my third book to finish). While it definitely has an X-Files vibe, J.J. Abrams (is he like taking over the world of Sci Fi or what?), Orci and Kurtzman have created an original premise with tapping into alternate realities and experimentation on people. And of course, we have Denethor, Steward of Gondor, as Walter (John Noble), and Pacey (Joshua Jackson) as Peter. What more do you need? John Noble is great as the nutty Walter. I definitely like the Altered States aspects and am looking forward to seeing some of the alternate universe stuff.

So The Flow…

I suffer from constant writer’s block and flow issues. A while back, when starting the second book in my necromancer series, I sat down and expelled the first ten pages of the book. It was truly amazing. I have yet to repeat such a feat. Now, the inspired moments tend to produce about two to three pages, but I’m not complaining.

What is the flow? In this podcast from the Accidental Creative, Steven Kotler (link to podcast below) describes it as an optimal state of consciousness where the self vanishes and creativity is amplified. In typing those ten pages, I felt like I was dictating words flashing past my brain. I think many writers would describe the flow in the same way, just dictating. Somehow, when the flow happens, we’ve deactivated the frontal cortex which controls the pesky and sometimes nasty inner critic.

But is the flow something that happens by chance, the ship passing in the night, or can we trigger it somehow? Well, good news. The answer is yes! (according to Kotler)

Kotler describes the three phases of the Flow:

First Phase: research phase in which you’re taking in new information, doing research. He also calls this the struggle phase. I found when I first started writing books and taking classes, meeting other writers, my writing process was much more inspired.

Second phase: relaxation where you take your mind off the problem, allowing your mind to move from the conscious to the subconscious. Taking a break to let all the new information and research sink into the brain.

Third phase: make connections, the “high” phase. Memory and learning consolidate. Can be blocked by stress. Boy, do I get this, all the time. I have so much going on in my life between my day job and family. But when the brain clicks and the words do flow, it’s amazing.

Falling out of the flow or the “high”, often leaves you in a funk. I’m quite familiar with this somewhat bi-polar writer trait. One day, I’m depressed about how I can’t write and my writing sucks. The next day, I’ve written 1,000, inspired words!

Flow triggers:

Rest after coming out of the flow then dive back into the struggle phase.

Create that link that leads into phase two. Do research.

Risks, something with high consequences, lead to greater flow. Some things a writer can do are write in a style not your own, not copying the words, but using the same structure and punctuation. Or write a scene in a different POV.

Introduce novelty in your life, a complex environment. Change the environment you’re writing in. Sometimes if I go to a coffee shop, that helps. Recently I was on a work trip and convinced myself to go down to the bar and have a glass of wine, which for me, was both a risk and novelty. I don’t like hanging out in hotel bars by myself! But I got my glass of wine, sat down, and wrote the opening of my second pirate book. I was dictating and it felt fantastic.

Here’s a link to the podcast:

I’ve been nostalgic for my adopted South. While I was born in New York, I grew up in Florida and miss the Cypress trees, swimming in the lakes and beaches, and drives down canopy roads. I watched the documentary about the Muscle Shoals recording studios. Really great. It’s on Netflix, check it out, but they mention Lynyrd Skynyrd. Now if you were at all conscious in the 70s and 80s, you remember Free Bird, but Skynyrd’s music was so much more. I grew up listening to my brother’s Lynyrd Skynyrd’s albums, and I’m talking the good stuff before the tragic plane accident that took the lives of Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, and Cassie Gaines. Van Zant was a complex song writer, touching upon topics such as gun control, and writing lovely songs like Tuesday’s Gone.

I leave you with one of my favs, the Ballad of Curtis Lowe:

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