Getting into the Flow of Writing

Have you ever gotten lost in your writing? So wrapped up in the words that time flew by without notice? Most of us creative-types have probably experienced this at one time or another, when everything around us dissolves and we are completely immersed in our make believe worlds.

I am an extreme right brain personality – much to the consternation of my poor left-brained husband. I am a writer, a singer, a musician, an artist, and a poet but I will dive into pretty much any other creative activity that tickles my fancy. So yes, my house is usually a travesty, my schedule is flexible (as is my bedtime) and I adore getting wrapped up in my writer-world and mucking around in my character’s lives.

But there are times when the words don’t flow and no matter how much I push and prod I cannot unblock the stream. During one particularly frustrating session, I gave up and closed the computer.

Instead, I focused on a watercolor painting that I had sketched out a few days before. Putting brush to paper became therapy for my frustrated mind. I was able to concentrate not on words, but on my visual creativity and the sheer pleasure of creating something beautiful. And then, while I was still in that flow state, I opened my laptop and the words that had been so tightly knotted before untangled themselves and spilled onto the page with ease.

I began to wonder if one artistic activity might stimulate another. So lately, I have been trying to begin my writing sessions not with writing, but in some other artistic activity that relieves the pressure and is simply a creative pastime without a demand for a finished product. The results have been amazing, I feel sometimes as though I have simply transferred the brush to my manuscript and continued painting with words.

I don’t know the science of why this works for me, I would guess it’s similar to the practice of drawing with the “right brain” that I learned in art classes years ago; which is a way of allowing your brain to concentrate on drawing what it actually sees, instead of what it assumes to see, and thereby encourages a flow state.

This technique has been especially helpful to me when I have been engaged in left-brained activities: teaching, research, budgeting, or monotonous household chores. And honestly, it does not take much to stimulate my creativity—a few minutes perhaps, just enough to slip me into “right brain mode”. I just have to be careful not to get too wrapped up in the painting and neglect the writing! And it isn’t always painting; sometimes I doodle, play the piano, sing, or just read beautiful poetry that inspires me with lofty language and imagery.

What about you? Is there another artistic activity that inspires you to write? Or a hobby that might be helpful to relieve the pressure of deadlines or word counts and instead encourage creative flow?

Recent Posts