Writing in flow is not a Markov process

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Writers follow the flow. But if you don’t keep track of the destination, the flow will lead you astray. Let me explain, using the mathematical concept of a Markov process. What is a Markov Process? You’re familiar with Markov processes, even if you don’t realize it. A Markov process is one in which the likely … Continued

Four steps that enable you to write in flow

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I remember editing people at my last job. I would give them the charge on what to do, and then check back two days later. “How much did you write?” I would ask. “One paragraph,” they’d say. You will never achieve flow that way! Flow is effortless writing. You know how it feels. You sit … Continued

Why is writing sometimes so hard, and other times so easy?

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Writing can be a joy or a chore. I thought of this as I saw this tweet from Raul Pacheco-Vega: “I’ve noticed something really funny: I struggle with putting words into paper, up until I reach a point where BOOM, the words just start pouring from my finger tips. Does this happen to you too?” … Continued

Art and craft

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Here are a few words on what it feels to successfully create art, and why we can never really understand it. This weekend I attended “The Fabrication of Imagination,” a show put on by the Arts League of Lowell, Massachusetts. The people there were fascinating. I met Judith Wombwell, an artist originally trained as a choreographer … Continued

Is the “Harrison Bergeron” problem handicapping your work day?

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Having trouble thinking straight? Try thinking for more than 45 seconds at a time. That’s a lesson from of one of my favorite stories of all time, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.’s “Harrison Bergeron.” Vonnegut describes a dystopic future in which “everybody was finally equal.” If you happened to have some unusual quality, such as beauty or a … Continued

How to create “flow” in your writing process

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The brilliant psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes the experience of “flow” — of being productive, in the moment, and making rapid progress on work that matches well to your skills. Flow creates great writing, but it happens only if you prepare properly. If you’re writing something longer than 1000 words, it matters how you write it. You’re … Continued