Writing Advice: Finding a Flow


Road trips can be fun, right? If you don’t get carsick, you can use the time to get a lot of reading done. If you do get carsick, you can sing along to your favorite tunes, catch up on podcasts you want to listen to, or just play fun games with your road trip buddies. The beginning of a road trip is amazing — you’re just getting started and the whole idea still has that fresh sheen. But then, ten hours later, you’re just in a cramped car and somehow tired from doing nothing but pressing a gas pedal. At that point, you probably want nothing more than to stop and forget the whole thing. But your destination is waiting for you, so you have to push through and keep on going.

Think of your story as a road trip. At the beginning, everything seems rosy and you’re most likely eager to get started. But soon the rosy glow starts to vanish. Soon you’re feeling the pangs of writer’s block and you’re tired of spending time with your characters day in and day out. Just like the road trip, you may want to bail on your story. It can be so much easier to give into that temptation when it’s just words on a page rather than money spent on a trip. But you have to convince yourself that the stakes are just as high. You have to keep going to reach that destination that you know you’re headed for.

On the topic of forging ahead, Ursula Le Guin had this to say: “A story is, after all, and before everything else, dynamic: it starts Here, because it’s going There. Its life principle is the same as a river: to keep moving. Fast or slow, straight or erratic, headlong or meandering, but going, till it gets There. The ideas it expresses, the research it embodies, the timeless inspirations it may offer, are all subordinate to and part of that onward movement…the onward flow of a story is what carries a writer from the start to the end of it, along with the whole boatload of characters and ideas and knowledge and meaning — and carries the reader in the same boat.”

The important thing is to find your flow. On a road trip, that might mean a great playlist, some friends to keep you company, and the knowledge that you’ll soon be able to stretch your legs. When writing, finding a flow can be more difficult. It can mean constructing an outline that you can stick to, having images around that remind you of your themes, or a creating routine that makes you sit down and write every day. Hey, a playlist and great friends to cheer you on may even be involved.

Whatever you need to do to keep your flow, just remember that you’re doing it all to get somewhere awesome. Happy writing!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan