Today the writing flowed. It felt good to be in that writing zone where all distractions dimmed and the story came. What a heightened focus and attention on my work. I didn’t just enjoy what I was doing I melded into my work.
For years athletes have spoken of the runner’s high—that point where in a near out of body experience—the runner no longer feels their feet pounding the pavement. They transcend their efforts and flow into the experience achieving endurance normally unattainable. Mihalay Csikszentmihalyi (how would that work for a character’s name?) in the book he edited, Optimal Experience: Psychological Studies in the Flow of Consciousness, shows how the experience of runners is not unique. Anyone can enter this flow. That includes writers.
Today I should not have experienced flow. I woke before my four AM alarm went off. Then prepared for my day and started my commute at 4:50 AM. I can’t do much writing when I drive (duh!) nor on the bus but the commuter train is different. I found a computer carrying case that fits on my lap forming a tight but useable table when wedged against the seat in front of me. In my two hours to and from Chicago I wrote 1,715 words (enough to meet my daily quota for reaching 50k in a month). Then I added another 500+ while between my commute and a 6:30 PM meeting. I am feeling very good about my prospects of reaching my 50k word count this year.
More importantly the story flowed. What a delight not to struggle with dialogue. What came next came next, seemingly effortlessly and exceedingly smoothly. These days don’t come nearly as often as I’d like, but I’ll take them when they do. In fact I find they come after I have struggled a day or two just to get something written. But I plowed through the dry time and seem to be rewarded with time of pure pleasure in writing.
I can’t help but wonder if the struggle and discipline of writing when I do not fell anything like this flow. It is more like swimming in boots. This past weekend all I did was keep my head above water. These times when writing is a struggle are perhaps a necessary prerequisite for funneling those subsequent days of flow. Perhaps my subconscious is rewarding me for perseverance with this today.
Whatever causes the flow I’ll keep on writing because sometimes the rewards of writing are in the writing itself.