January 2010 Wordcount Goal: 73,000

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Janowrimo 2010: Day 21 The lure of Flow

What is the holy grail for writers? Is it the tease of a million dollar contract? Maybe it's the vision of booksignings and lines of readers waiting for that one moment when their books are signed. Writers have any number of reasons why they pursue their stories and struggle to throw them down on the page, but for many it's the illusive state of "flow." Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who wrote the classic work FLOW: The Psychology Experience of Optimal Experience, defined flow as the state where people experience "the suspension of time" and "complete absorption."

That is what I'm seeking when I talk about reconnecting with my story's world and with the characters. Every time I've gained that state exciting things have happened on the page. Dialogue sharpens, characters come alive, and the world I'm watching becomes the world I'm in. I last achieved flow in December 2008 during my 53K word marathon and it came late in the game. I want it again.   


Christine H said...

I totally agree with wanting that flow. The problem is that my real life suffers so much when I'm in it.

It's a form of torture, really, being forced to constantly choose between the flow of daily life (where I am operating efficiently at the moment) and the flow of my internal creativity. They seem to be mutually exclusive realms.

Christine H said...

I've been thinking about this the past few days, and looked at the opening pages of the book on Amazon.

I think that experience of optimal flow only occurs for the writer during a first draft. Then, it is the painstaking work of revising in order to create conditions under which the reader will then have the same experience.

Which is why revising is so difficult, and much less fun.

vikk simmons said...

Flow is such a holy grail. However, I do think you can get steeped in the story during revision. It's been a while but I remember times during revision when my focus was so total I felt as if I were operating in a different space.

I have a good friend who would disagree with you on the ease of first draft writing. For her revision is bliss. After all these years I tend to enjoy both processes for entirely different reasons.

Christine H said...

I think that before I started thinking seriously about publication, I enjoyed writing more, regardless of the draft number.

Now, I worry about every word, every sentence. Does this sound sharp enough? Does it flow? Is it necessary? Is it trite? Did I pick the right POV? Is there enough tension? What will an agent or editor think of this paragraph?

Kind of takes the fun out of it.

vikk simmons said...

I understand. When I first began writing I loved writing first drafts and revision work sucked the life out of the process. Then I went through a phase where first drafts were terrible but revision became fun and truly enjoyable. Then I found that it depended on the story. Finally I achieved a place where I enjoy both. Took a long time, though.