I’m often asked how to find a sense of “flow” when writing. This is a slightly tricky question to answer, because it depends very much on what you mean by flow.
Like all metaphors, the term flow is a concise way of expressing an abstract concept, but it also leaves a lot of room for ambiguity. It could refer to the structure of the argument, where one idea flows neatly into the next, or it could refer to the flow of ideas from your brain onto the page. These concepts are quite different, because one is centred on the reader’s experience and the effectiveness of communication, the other on the writer’s experience and the rate of production.
So to answer the question of how to find your writing flow, we need to be clear what exactly it is you are looking for. To read the full article go to James Hayton PHD September 22, 2015 By James Hayton
Flow is not the only effective working state. Csikszentmihaly presented a range of conditions depending on the relationship between difficulty and skill
Challenge_vs_skill – Perhaps the most important of these is “arousal”- where the challenge is just beyond your current ability. This is where learning takes place. When you face a difficult problem in your writing (often mistaken for “writer’s block”), then simply writing fast, or writing without thinking, or writing “where the energy is”, then you will never, ever improve as a writer, and you will never be able to reach deeper insights than those you already have. Slowing down to engage with the problem and working out a solution is the only way.
You can also find yourself in this state when you have a new idea you haven’t considered before. Not knowing how or if it affects your work, and perhaps not knowing if the idea is valid, it takes some time and effort to think through the consequences.
You can follow the standard advice and just write, spewing words onto the page in a torrent of creativity, but this doesn’t seem a very academic way of working. Surely it’s better to slow down and think a little, to ask yourself what it means and to consider different possibilities?