Thursday, Kay talked about Virginia Woolf’s famous essay about how writers find a dedicated physical space and an emotional space for writing very useful – and how women writers often didn’t/don’t have that privilege.
I mentioned that I find it easy to find physical space, but mental space is much more difficult for me to carve out. I got to wondering, what exactly do I mean by that?
For me, I don’t really craft my writing until I go into edit mode. Writing just happens to me; sometimes I feel like a fountain, sometimes I feel like a conduit. I get in that state called “flow”.
And I often fall into flow – when I’m reading an interesting book or article on the internet, when I’m listening to music with a good beat, when I’m making a worksheet for school. Time and space lose their meaning, and I’m riding a mental wave that is going to take me somewhere – I’m not always sure where, even if I’m familiar with the book or the music. It’s so enjoyable, usually, and when someone interrupts me, I feel cranky – sometimes I say, “Just a minute!” and try to grasp the tail-end of whatever thought I was pursuing, but I often feel it slip out of my mind without a trace.
I’ve learned to swallow my rage and put on a neutral face and ask that poor interrupter what they want.
When I’m having fun writing, I’m in that flow. It’s usually preceded by a, “oh, I’d like to write this now.” I can’t regularly predict it or set up the conditions.
Sometimes, I’m swamped (usually with holiday preparations), and something comes up and I feel compelled to drop everything and write it down.
Sometimes I’m bored, and it seems like a good idea to write a little something – often, Elizabeth’s Friday writing sprints come in handy on a Sunday afternoon or Monday after work. They provide a little springboard, and I’m off and running with something short.
Sometimes (rarely) I can start writing and then fall into flow . . . but it often turns into such utter dreck that I get swamped in the mental reeds, and stop.
It’s so frustrating when the flow just won’t come. I need that mental space, broad as a river and just as swift, to write with joy.
What I really like though, is having written. Then putting it away for a little while, and when I read the story, falling back into flow again. I love that.
What triggers flow in you? I wonder if I could start reading one of my favorite books, and then switch, midstream, to writing? I’d probably wind up with fanfic (which is fine, but not what I want to write – I hate following someone else’s rules). Meditation is great, but only rarely leads to a good writing session afterward. Sometimes surfing on the internet will slam two or three ideas together, and then I *have* to write them. I guess that’s my only semi-reliable trigger – to have a morning or afternoon free, and then spend an hour on the internet on my writing computer, and switch over to a Word document when something strikes my fancy.
(-: It is my fervent desire that one of your triggers will work for me! What do you do to get into flow?