When we learn to do anything, it is hard at first. When we learned to walk, we fell down a lot. Then we got good at walking and now we can get up and walk across a room without consciously thinking about what we do. We were walking in flow.
When you learned to drive, you had to think through each move you made. You thought out every move we had to make. Think about what it was like when you came up to your first traffic sign. You had to know when to let off the gas when to put on the brake, and when and how to put on the blinker. You needed to remind yourself to look both ways before crossing an intersection. You had to think about how to turn the steering wheel. After practicing those driving skills over several weeks and months, you no longer had to think about what you were doing. The actions became automatic. You were driving in flow.
When you learned to read, you had to learn the alphabet, the sounds the letters made, and the words that the sounds produced. You had to string the words together to make sentences and then those sentences to make paragraphs. Soon you were reading and not even thinking about the words that you were reading instead, you were picturing the scene and feeling the emotions of the characters. You read in a flow state.
The same thing can happen with writing. You can develop writing skills that make writing flow just as easy as walking. You can learn to write in such a way that all you need is an idea and a few subtopics, and you can write a scene or an article very quickly because you learned how to write in flow.
Here are a few skills that every writer needs to learn so that they can best write in flow.
Learning Spelling and Grammar
Knowing how to spell words and knowing how to put a sentence together is the backbone of writing in flow. If you don’t know how to spell or how to put words down into a meaningful pattern, it’s difficult to write anything that makes sense.
Reading and reading a lot of good contemporary literature can help you in this skill.
Making a game of learning “spelling words” that you are likely to use regularly is a good practice if spelling is difficult for you.
Writing and writing regularly will help you over time develop this skill as well.
Learn Touch Typing
Years ago, I was in school, I had to write a lot of essays about the subject matter. In one class we had to write something that was due every Friday. The assignments took me about an hour to write, however, another student complained that the assignment took her over five hours to complete.
It wasn’t that I was smarter than she was. It was that I could type faster than she could because I had learned touch typing. QUERTY touch typing is a skill that helps me think of a word that magically comes out of my fingers onto the screen. I hadn’t learned touch typing until after I was out of high school, but it really came in handy when I was in college and for me as a writer of both articles and fiction. I don’t have to think about the individual words because I learned the fingering on the keyboard to the point that it is automatic. Yes, it took time to learn but it saves me so much time now.
Learn to Compose on the Computer
Right along with learning QUERTY keyboard fingering, I learned to compose on the computer. This is probably a skill that younger people know because they grew up writing on screens, but we old folks had to learn after the fact. Back in the old days, I wrote things out on paper and then had to transpose them to the computer screen. Now it is as simple as thinking the word and letting my fingers do the rest.
Getting into the practice of sitting down to write every day is another critical skill that writers should do. Not knowing what to write is probably more crippling to a writer than not knowing how to write. Therefore, journaling is the next skill I recommend developing for learning to get into the flow.
Journaling is simply sitting down and writing your thoughts on the screen. Unlike many people, I don’t journal on paper, but I journal on my computer as a document in Microsoft Word. I type the date and then start typing. If I don’t know what to write, I write I don’t know what to write but. . . and then write whatever comes into my mind next. Often, when I don’t know what to write, I will set a timer for fifteen minutes before journalling and then just keep typing until the timer goes off. Sometimes nothing of any value comes out of the journalling experience, but most of the time I find something that I can use.
Writer’s block happens when you don’t have any ideas or ideas that you think are good for moving forward in a project. Writing a list of ideas that you can go to when you need an idea is one of the ways that you can avoid writer’s block and find your way into the flow.
Creating an Outline
Some people seem to think that there’s something constricting about writing using an outline, but I find that I get into the flow better when I have an outline. Writing an article or a story without an outline is like driving a car to a place where there are no signs indicating where to go. It’s easy to get lost.
I remember one time a co-worker of mine invited me to his house. He lived down a dirt road where there were no signs. He told me that if I just kept bearing to the right, I would eventually find his place. Instead, I ended up coming out where I started. I never did find his place.
The same happens when writing. Without an outline, it’s easy to go down a lot of rabbit holes that end up needing to be deleted or where I realize that the storyline isn’t going anywhere, and I must start over.
Putting it All Together
Any one of these skills will help you improve the flow of your writing but putting them all together will exponentially help improve your ability to get into the writing flow.
If getting into the flow of writing is difficult for you, which skill do you think would help you the most?