Writing in Flow
Home Up Kylie's Heel Writing in Flow Other Books Article Reprints Testimonials Bunnyape Reviews Links

 

Excerpts
Writing FAQ
 What Is Flow?Raves ForewordAuthor Q&A
   Email Me
Have you ever wished you could have more of those wonderful inspired writing sessions when time seems to disappear? You can. Guided by the dozens of top writers in Writing in Flow who share their private experiences and insights, you can learn to take more control over the sources of your creativity than you thought possible.

Whether you’re a novelist, poet, short-story writer, essayist, or creative nonfiction writer—whether you’re just starting out or are already an accomplished writer—you will learn ways to enter flow and enjoy writing more. This is the first and only book of its kind created especially for writers. 

WRITING IN FLOW: Keys to Enhanced Creativity, by Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., Foreword by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Ph.D. [Writer’s Digest Books]  Buy a signed copy from me.

WHAT IS FLOW?

It’s when you’re so deeply engaged in whatever it is you’re doing that it becomes self-rewarding. When you write from a flow state, you may forget what time it is, the words seem to arrive almost effortlessly, and it’s possible that you’re producing your best work.

horizontal rule

RAVES

“Perry is a wonderful guide and interviewer, juggling the voices of many writers to make concise points. I would strongly recommend the book to any aspiring or successful creative writers.... Would I recommend this book to psychologists? A more difficult question, but the answer is yes. And it’s a fun read.” 
      —James C. Kaufman, Ph.D., Journal of Creative Behavior

“If it is possible to capture the essence of flow, Perry has done it.  This would be a welcome companion on any writer’s bookshelf.  It’s the perfect mix of inspiration and perspiration.”
      —Beth Amos (on www.barnesandnoble.com)

“Perry’s book is a real contribution to the creativity literature.”
      —Sandra W. Russ, Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, April 2001

“Writing in Flow would be a welcome companion on any writer’s bookshelf. It’s the perfect mix of inspiration and perspiration.”  
      —Beth Amos, Barnes & Noble.com

“Perry’s text is a genuinely informative book that both describes the state of flow and provides a concrete road map for achieving it. . . .  The descriptions of flow and prescriptions for achieving it are as individual as the dozens of writers and poets she surveyed and interviewed at length. . . . What makes Perry’s text a fascinating read, however, is the glimpse it gives us into the habits of authors such as Jonathan Kellerman, Sue Grafton, and dozens of others. Their experiences are diverse, but the voyeuristic pleasure we get is exceptional. In all, Susan Perry presents us with an exhaustively researched and valuable book.” 
      —Jeff Leiper, Writer’s Block, Spring 2000 

Writing in Flow is a creative and yet practical work.  The ideas are nicely tied to the research, and the practical implications clearly explored.  In a sense this volume shows how the medium can be the message - it is a joy to read.”
      —Mark Runco, Ph.D., Editor, Creativity Research Journal

“A writer’s greatest challenge is getting lost in the writing and entering that state some call ‘flow.’ Susan K. Perry helps writers negotiate that vital movement from ‘busy mind’ to ‘no mind’ where they can write with authenticity and real power.”
      —Eric Maisel, Ph.D., psychotherapist and author of Deep Writing and Fearless Creating

“This volume is alive with the distinctive voices of great writers, preserved in the unobtrusive yet scintillating medium of Susan K. Perry’s own writing. Readers who have struggled with verse or prose will recognize the ring of truth in these descriptions. Those who are just curious to know what’s involved will have a chance to get a glimpse into the strange world where as yet untold stories gestate.”
      —From the Foreword by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Ph.D., University of Chicago, author of the bestselling Flow

“The good news that Perry offers is that anyone can learn to enter flow more often and that there is not only one way to be in flow.  By seeing all the myriad and quixotic ways that writers write, this book can help readers recognize the common elements of flow so they can learn to do and trust what works for them.  If one is already motivated to write, Perry’s book can help.”
      —Foreword Magazine

“Unlike standard academic studies, Perry maintains a connection with the mysteries of creativity.  She avoids quantifying the life out of the writing experience, while presenting an objective study of subjective experience.  It’s a fine line, and she walks it with the grace of a high-wire artist. . . .   If you find strength in the company of writers sharing experience and insight, Flow is a necessary treasure.”  
      —Nessa Flax, Freelance Success (online)

“Chock full of interesting quotes and quips…. Each interviewee’s personality comes through clearly in their quotes, and any professional writer is sure to find a bit of themselves in these chapters.”
      —Jade Walker, Inscriptions (online)

“If you are interested in other writers’ takes on writing in flow, or would like to know how to enter this state more often, this is a must-read.”
      —Mariska Stamenkovic, Keystrokes Magazine (online)

“Writers at any level of experience will benefit from Perry’s insight into creativity and the mental process that occurs during the act of writing.  This is not another ‘how to’ book that serves up a rehash of common do’s and don’ts of how to be a writer.  This book gets right into the heads of 76 regularly published, successful writers.  Perry picks their brains, like a scientist with tweezers, extracting gems of wisdom from the gray matter. . . .  The style is comfortable, warm, and very readable.  . . .  the feeling of relaxing over coffee with the author or eavesdropping on her conversation with all the best writers of the day.”
      —J.B. Justice, RestStop Writers’ Newsletter (online)

“Each chapter ends with a page or two of ‘keys’ that give readers suggestions... Because these tidbits are based on strategies used by real writers, they usually sound fresh, practical, and ingenious – unlike the stale, mechanical advice of so many how-to books.  Helpful as well as enjoyable to read.”
      —Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Psychology and the Arts (newsletter of Division 10, American Psychological Association)

“This book inspires and explains.  It is a must read for every writer, no matter whether you write poetry, articles, novels, or ad copy.”
      —Dana Nourie, Writer’s Guidelines Database (online):

“What I like most about his book is Chapter 8, where I can compare my own experiences with those of the ‘rich and famous.’  ‘Writing in Flow’ explains, in glorious detail, the what and why of flow.  It also offers a ton of ‘insider info’ on how you can develop your own method of getting into this highly productive state when you write.  If you’re interested in how the creative mind works, you’ll like this book.”
      —Writers’ Exchange (online)

“This is an enjoyable read and valuable learning aide for developing writers.  Perry also provides answers to questions from students and friends throughout the text of the book.  Writing in Flow is an excellent and unique guide for enhancing your creativity and inspiring yourself to write regularly.”
      —Writers Write (The Internet Writing Journal)

“Many writers will want to buy this book to help them achieve and maintain a sense of flow in their own work. ... Despite beginning as a doctoral thesis, Writing in Flow is an interesting and practical contribution to the practice of writing.  I say this with admiration. ... I think most writers will enjoy the panel discussion format of this book.  Better yet, it’s more like sitting in a huge booth at a café with 76 writers you can not help but admire.  This book feels real.  There is no phony-baloney secret formula to success.”
      —Rodney L. Merrill, Writer Online  

“It’s like having a sister’s knowledgeable, earnest math-loving friend lead you through calculus; you’re learning a lot in a friendly manner.... Writing in Flow is a good book, an interesting book, and a useful book.” 
      —Daniel Argent, Creative Screenwriting

“A really exciting book. So many people want to be writers, and what you’re looking at is the thing that prevents them.”
      —Lawrence E. Shapiro, Ph.D., president and founder of The Center for Applied Psychology, and author of How To Raise a Child with a High EQ.

Writing in Flow, Susan Perry’s major work on flow, that creative zero-time trance that writers enter when they are working their hardest (and most would say best), is one of those brilliant simplicities that illuminate our lives from time to time. It is simplicity because Perry makes it so with her common sense approach to research, her use of unexpurgated interview, and her relaxed but pointed prose style. It is brilliant because she, for the first time that I am aware of, has collected and examined the state of flow, something mentioned in passing by scores of writers in various contexts, but something never excerpted as focus of serious psychological and aesthetic investigation.   She has assembled an extremely interesting and yes, even entertaining book, one that I am sure will become standard reading for any writer or anyone interested in writing. Writing in Flow is simply, brilliantly, a great book.”
      —Frank X. Gaspar, author of three volumes of poetry, recipient of the Morse Prize, the Anhinga Prize for Poetry, and the Brittingham Prize for Poetry, and a Writing in Flow interviewee.

“It’s about time.”
      —The author’s father

horizontal rule

See for yourself—Read the Excerpts

Aer50067.bmp (18064 bytes) Top of the Page

FOREWORD by M. CSIKSZENTMIHALYI

There is much written about writing—;the process of creating a poem or a novel is a source of endless fascination, especially to those who have tried their hands at it. There are poems whose theme is the ars poetica, there are uncounted fictional and biographical accounts of how hard and how wonderful it is to bring a story out of thin air. Many of these descriptions give vivid insights into the subjective experience of writing. Yet to my knowledge nobody has asked a large number of distinguished authors to describe how they think and what they feel during the creative process, so as to provide a comprehensive and systematic description of the art of writing.

At least not up to this point; for Susan Perry has done the job for us. And what a fascinating job it is. This volume is alive with the distinctive voices of great writers, preserved in the unobtrusive yet scintillating medium of her own writing. Readers who have struggled with verse or prose will recognize the ring of truth in these descriptions. Those who are just curious to know what’s involved will have a chance to get a glimpse into the strange world where as yet untold stories gestate.

Creative individuals—; painters, sculptors, physicists, musicians ...—have left many accounts of what goes on in consciousness during the creative process. But writers have the advantage of being able to describe this process in their own medium, in words. This brings their accounts to reflect much closer the actual mental process, so that in reading some of the excerpts Perry quotes one can almost imagine oneself being in the place of the person writing. The dance of images and emotions in the poet’s head comes alive so vividly that readers may be excused for believing that it takes place in their own mind.

But Perry’s volume is not just a series of exciting glimpses into the creative process. For those who appreciate a more systematic understanding, she has organized her material in terms of a conceptual model—;based on the theory of flow—;which brings order and meaning to the interview material. The model and Perry’s application of it takes the concrete descriptions to a level of generalization that gives them added power. Yet she has been wise to conceal the conceptual apparatus enough so that it never becomes obtrusive. The reader who likes reality straight, without the framing of theory, will barely notice its existence.

To end on a personal note, I must say that in the past twenty-five years I have often thought of the quip attributed to Leonardo da Vinci: “Unfortunate the master who has no apprentices to surpass him.” Indeed one feels like a failure if one’s work does not stimulate the next generation to do better. Therefore a book like this one, which builds on my own writing but takes it into a whole new dimension, is extremely satisfying. But I am sure it will be almost as satisfying to everyone who reads it.

 
bulletRead interviews with Susan K. Perry about Writing in Flow at the following sites: Page ONE; On the Same Page
 
Aer50067.bmp (18064 bytes) Top of the Page

AUTHOR Q&A
(P.S. I wrote it myself)

Interview with Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., author of WRITING IN FLOW: Keys to Enhanced Creativity:

Q: What is flow?

A:  Flow is a delightfully enjoyable state you enter when you’re so deeply immersed in whatever you’re doing, that you forget yourself and everything around you. It feels as though the words are just coming by themselves, effortlessly. One of the most universal aspects of being in flow is an alteration of time. You suddenly look up and say to yourself, “Huh? I thought it was only lunchtime!” It’s common to produce your best and most creative work in a flow state.

Q: Why did you decide to write a book on writing in flow?

A:  Flow feels so good, and is such an amazing place to write from, that I wanted to know more about it. Besides, my husband, a poet who works in the room right next to mine, gets into flow very easily, in writing and in everything. It’s much harder for me and I wanted to learn to make it easier.

Q:  Who did you talk to while researching this book?

A:  Even though this book began as a doctoral dissertation, I knew from the start that I would be turning it into a popular book. That’s why I sought out as many famous writers as I could. My list of 76 interviewees includes Jane Smiley, Sue Grafton, Michael Connelly, Robert Olen Butler, Octavia Butler, Ursula Le Guin, and Jonathan and Faye Kellerman. I also spoke with many prize winning poets who arent exactly household names, from Donald Hall to Robert Pinsky. And my husband, handy lab rat that he is, provided a great deal of insight into the most intense form of flow.

Q: What was the most surprising thing you learned while researching the book?

A:  Novelists have more fun. Or, to be accurate, those who are open to being their most creative selves have a much pleasanter time than I do when I’m writing an article to a formula, to please some editorial committee, or mainly to pay the bills. I learned that it’s possible to take some of that creative impulse and apply it ANY kind of writing, to find the fun and the flow in whatever you’re writing. Indeed, in whatever you’re doing throughout your life. I’ve become a real flow fanatic.

Q:  How about giving us the lessons of the whole book in a sound byte?

A:  I hate oversimplifying, but the essential heart of WRITING IN FLOW is that there are five “master keys” to entering flow. First you have to think like a writer by adopting a certain set of attitudes. Learning to be more open to experience, for example, can make a big difference in how easily and often you’ll enter flow. You need a darn good reason to write, so you’ll be motivated to persist through the toughest challenges. You must figure out ways to loosen up, and then to focus in on the work. I asked my interviewees what kinds of exercises and activities actually work for them to get them “in the mood” to be inspired. And finally, the most successful writers have learned to balance among the opposites of being in control and out of control, writing by will or by inspiration, and being aware of audience and putting all thoughts of eventual readers aside.

Q: This sound a little mystical. Is it?

A:  It amazes me how the idea of flow overlaps a lot of very mystical concepts. But it’s not really that otherworldly at all. Flow is a carefully researched psychological state that anyone can learn to enjoy more often. Transcendence for the masses, if you will.

Q: What can you say about writer’s block?  

A:  The most startling fact about writer’s block is that the most productive writers usually find a way to reframe it for themselves. They learn to see periods of not writing and not being able to write as necessary to their overall process. In my book I suggest numerous ways any writer can try to get the juices flowing again.

AND DON’T MISS BUNNYAPE REVIEWS OF OTHER BOOKS ON WRITING AND CREATIVITY

E-Mail Me

Aer50067.bmp (18064 bytes) Top of the Page