How to Maintain Your Writing Flow

Abstract illustration showing flowing waves of blue

Writers and communicators like most everyone else, can experience peaks and trough — especially in creativity, inspiration, idea threads, and more. Some days, the right words come easily, and everything matches up like links in a chain. At other times, you may feel like you have to drag each useful phrase, lead, or idea, kicking and screaming out of your head.

Sometimes, the right mix and sequence of words and paragraphs and structure and design just refuse to come. During periods like these, I'm reminded of the following quotation from author, Red Smith, who perhaps illustrates the problem perfectly:

Writing is easy, you just sit down at the typewriter, open up a vein, and bleed it out drop by drop.

Red Smith, Author.

When the opposite is true; when the muse is well and truly sitting in your head having a party, with everyone invited, when you find yourself in the middle of a creative volcano, my best advice to you is: explode. Yes, go with the creative energy. Why: it never comes twice in the same way. Next time, you'll have a different outcome.

Going with the flow, helps ensure that you carry on writing without interruption.

Continue as long as you're physically able to ensure that you get your thoughts recorded. Notice I didn't say written. More on that in a moment.

While experiencing highly creative periods like these, below are some tips to help you capture, process, and record your thoughts and ideas before they disappear like a puff of smoke:

  • Use a sound recording device, app, of even a dictaphone to speak your piece and directly record your thoughts. Dictaphones may still be available though the technology is now being outdated by apps and smart phones below.
  • Better: set up, train and use voice recognition software installed on a PC, or tablet computer app, or smart phone. As you speak into a microphone, your words are converted into text and saved into a document file. Greater word accuracy comes with some practice. What a time saver! Check iPhone and Android phone app sources.
  • Make sure you also keep backups.
  • Periodically, you can easily edit and correct the few mistakes that may have been made by your voice recognition software. Update: the latest software is better than ever in terms of accuracy. I may switch to this method myself too. Imagine talking your articles instead of typing?
  • The last option — and the one I still usually use myself to-date, is to master the skill of touch-typing. If you use a computer or tablet device and don't already touch-type, I highly recommend you take the time to learn. Get a touch-typing software tutor program, then take a little time each day to learn how to "tickle the keys."

Why Invest the Time and Effort Required to Learn Touch-Typing?

There's something special about the link between a writer and a keyboard. The keyboard — whether typewriter, PC- or Apple Mac-computer based — can start to feel like an almost natural extension to your brain.

Maybe in time, voice-to-text convertor software may catch on in popularity. Though it's hard to understand how talking into an app can replace the connection between brain and keyboard. Time will tell.  

Before we get too carried away with the benefits, I want to share how and why touch-typing has worked for me, and perhaps it could work well for you too.

Here's a little more information about the reality of embarking on a touch-typing training course.

  • While you learn touch-typing from scratch is probably one of the most soul-destroying feelings ever — at first! You feel like a baby learning to walk again, but being conscious of your constant stream of mistakes and errors.
  • Soon, you'll probably make so many errors, you'll begin to doubt that you'll ever "master this thing!" If that's how you feel, good, you're definitely on course. Well done: just don't give up!
  • Do the exercises — boring and pointless as they seem at the time. Laugh at your errors. You know, with one of those entertaining manic laughs.
  • Keep practicing. Yes, there's no substitute. Practice may not make you perfect every time, however, you'll get closer to perfection with every practise session.
  • First and foremost, focus on finger accuracy, not speed. You can pick up the pace later — naturally and more easily.
  • Practice daily. Practice is good, but you must exercise your touch-typing "muscle", or lose impetus. Daily practice is especially important until you can touch-type with ease.
  • If you feel disheartened, tell yourself that you will become a touch-typing pro in time. Why not type that exact message to yourself?
  • Become dogged. When first starting to learn touch-typing, I experienced a few weeks of what can only best be described as sheer grind. At that time, I felt that there was little point in continuing and putting myself through such misery. However luckily, I persevered and stayed the course. Why: perhaps desire or a sense that something extra is needed, is stronger than perceived failure. Find your reason and motivation, then use that.
  • After a while, just as when you work on developing almost any skill, you can start to sense real progress. When you reach this point, you've achieved a key goal.
  • When your accuracy level go up and error rates go down, if you continue with the exercises, keep concentrating on accuracy, as your speed increases, you can really start to make progress even faster.
  • Start touch-typing your day-to-day articles, projects, publications and content for web pages as soon as you think it's worth doing. That way, you can get a double pay-back: (1) your normal work gets done, and (2) you get even more practice.
  • Touch-type muscle memory is real. At least that's my experience. At the point when you just touch-type with ease, you can find that "muscle memory" seems to play a role. When you touch-type as easily as you can speak, your fingers seem to know what to do.
  • At the point of touch-type mastery, you gain something else of real value. You're then allowing your full creativity to flow from your brain to screen or paper, rather than striving for touch-type accuracy.
  • After touch-type mastery, you'll still make mistakes, but that won't matter. Why: you'll recover and correct quickly. What seems like a mistake may just be a minor delay.  
  • Now, begin. When you don't need the touch-type exercises any more, you can bless the day you learned to touch-type. More importantly, your touch-type skills can repay you thousands of times over in clean, crisp, cash, through a variety of ways: writing, website articles, blogs, and more.
  • Another lifelong skill gained. With touch-type mastery, you'll have gained another valuable IT-related, communications skill to add to your c.v. or resume.

Using the Power of Touch-typing to Capture Those Fleeting Thoughts and Ideas Before They Disappear

When you're in the middle of a "creative roll", the words and ideas can come so fast that being able to type quickly can be incredibly useful — and may even support a "deciding moment." As you experience an easy flow of information, sometimes, your mind can deliver the words so fast, that the ability to touch-type seems almost essential.

Therefore, do remember, when you're on a roll, do find a way to ensure that whatever tools and skills you choose to develop to record your thoughts can keep pace with your brain.

Do whatever you can to keep riding your creative wave. Why: these waves don't last. They're not meant to persist. A wave is a cycle: it has a start, a peak, and an end. So long as you ride your creative wave to its conclusion, you and your readers win. 

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