How Do You Know You’re in Flow?

You’ve probably heard before about writers reaching that sublime state of “flow” where nothing exists but the story they’re telling, and they feel a deep satisfaction when they’re done.

But if you’ve never reached that state of flow yourself, you might not be sure about what it really means. 

I can reach a state of flow very easily because I’ve done it so many times before.  So it is very easy for me to say “You’ll know when you’re in flow”.  But that that doesn’t take the mystery away, if you don’t think you’ve ever reached flow.

Actually, you will only realize you were in flow after you’ve broken off for a moment, and come back to the real world. 

Here’s a quick check card for the best indicators that you’ve reached a flow state.  Although flow is experienced differently by each writer, these are the common factors.

  1. When you do pull away from the writing, after a few minutes, you’re shocked to find an hour or more has passed.
  2. The scene you’re writing is set in the evening in winter.  When you stir and come back to the realities of your desk, you’re puzzled (and shocked), because it’s only 10am in June, not late evening at all….
  3. You don’t see the words on the page.  You only see the story in your mind, and you can hear your characters speaking their dialogue.
  4. You actually do have to “return to reality”, when you stop writing.  It’s an almost physical tug.
  5. When you do come back to reality, if you happen to look at the last lines you wrote, you will be instantly back in the story and find yourself writing just a few more words…or paragraphs…or pages.
  6. You never want to stop.  It just doesn’t occur to you to stop writing the story down that is playing in your head.  And you resent having to stop, when reality insists you do.
  7. Washroom breaks are a pain in the ass. 
  8. Food?  Huh?  I’m not hungry….

Have a great weekend!


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