Writing in Flow by Susan K. Perry



Writers love to get lost in their work. There is something so satisfying about being fully inside the story, where we’re at the top of our creative game and each word follows effortlessly from the last. When we’re in this state, the rest of the world disappears and we lose track of time. Athletes call it being “in the zone.” Artists call it flow—a word used by the famous researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. We’ve all experienced it at least once. Most of us would like to experience it more.

Perry has some good news for us. Achieving flow is not accidental. We don’t have to wait for the muses to show up and grace us with that blissful state. We can deliberately court it. Perry shows us how, with research interspersed with quotes from over seventy working novelists and poets.

Perry gives us five tricks—she calls them keys—to getting into flow. 1.) Have a compelling reason to write. 2.) Take risks and try new things to increase your confidence as a writer. 3.) Loosen up. 4.) focus fully on the writing. 5.) Let go of judgment.

WRITING IN FLOW helped me understand my own writing process. Now I know why short writing sessions don’t work for me. I can get twice as much done in one two-hour block than I can in four half hour blocks, even though it’s the same length of time. I spend a long time getting the first two hundred words written, but after that, something shifts and I take off. Now that I’ve read WRITING IN FLOW, I will relax a bit when those first couple of paragraphs are a mighty struggle. If I just stick with it, flow is right around the corner.

I enjoyed the snippets of interviews that Perry included, but they tended to bog down the narrative at times. It was nice to see the mix of perspectives, although sometimes she quotes four or five authors in a row all making the same point. Also, the reader should know that the first half of the book is descriptive rather than prescriptive. Perry wants writers to fully understand flow before trying to induce it. But that isn’t all bad. Understanding flow helps us to recognize it when we see it and court it more regularly.

Being in flow is more than just “letting go” or “listening to the muses.” Perry reminds us that flow only happens when we are working at the top of our abilities. She’s trying to get writers to use both the creative and the analytical sides of their brains. It’s only when they work hand in hand can we achieve greatness in our writing, and enjoy doing so.

WRITING IN FLOW can be found here.


Rating: 4 stars



This book is best for: beginning to intermediate writers


I recommend this book



5 thoughts on “Writing in Flow by Susan K. Perry

  1. I like it. Sometimes it takes a while to get into the flow, or stream– I sort of think of it as a stream, but then you’re right, you do take off.

  2. I used to have this book a long, long time ago. I lost it, probably during one of a million moves. But I never gave it a fair shot. Now I’m going to have to seek out a copy based on your review. I love the flow state. I sure as heck could use more of it. 🙂

    • It’s amazing how some books that I dismissed as a beginning writer are newly-relevant to me as a pro writer. I got rid of a bunch of books I considered “beginner” books, but now I wish I could have them back because I’d read them on a different level now.

      I found a copy of Writing in Flow at my local library. Perhaps yours has a copy as well.

  3. I’m so glad you liked it! Yes, the overabundance of anecdotes can become tedious, and I see it too often in all kinds of books.

    I’ve never been good at the “I’ve got 15 minutes so I’ll bang out a few words” routine either. It takes awhile for me to make that mental shift. Modern life isn’t really conducive to getting into flow, unfortunately.

    • Thank you for the recommendation, D!

      I learned a lot from this one. Like that whole “15 minutes isn’t enough” thing. I used to think that was my personal failing. Now I know it’s normal to need more time. Result = a happier and more productive Alex.

Leave a Reply to Alex Kourvo Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s