In Writing in Flow, Susan K. Perry applies the theories of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Flow) about the concept of "flow" to the writing process. A writer's being in flow is comparable to an athlete's being in a "zone." "You know you've been in flow," Perry says, "when time seems to have disappeared.... You become so deeply immersed ... that you forget yourself and your surroundings." For this book, Perry interviewed 76 authors--including T. Coraghessan Boyle, Sue Grafton, Donald Hall, and Jane Smiley--about their experiences with flow. How often do they experience it? What does it feel like? How does one encourage it? How does the writing that occurs during a flow state differ from that which is achieved in a more belabored manner? While the book often reads a little too much like the doctoral thesis it once was, Perry has culled some fascinating insights into the creative process from a terrific collection of writers.
Flow happens, Perry suggests, "when our mind or body is voluntarily stretched to its limit." How you experience flow depends on who you are. If you're a deep sleeper, for instance, you may also be more likely able to enter a deep flow state. For some writers, flow occurs during every writing session; for others, it is more elusive. There are those few who neither experience nor court it. "Nothing flows in my writing process," says John Irving. "My job is to make it flow for the reader, and that is a very deliberate, very slow, very unflowing process." But Irving is plainly in the minority. Most of the writers interviewed here cherish the flow state above all else. "It is the possibility of re-creating these moments," says Faye Moskowitz, "that keeps me going as a writer." Flow "seems to me the way life should always be," adds Lynne Sharon Schwartz, "freed from time and petty daily concerns and all forms of self-consciousness except the very deepest." --Jane Steinberg