As someone who writes meditative essays that help people get in touch with their inner wildness, I know that flow is essential. I mix all sorts of ideas and references together, exploring inner psyche, outer landscape, as well as offering up stories and examples. The trick is to pull all the pieces together into one seamless stream of writing.
Let me confess, it isn’t easy. And I often fall short. But over the years, I’ve learned a few things that make it easier.
1) I write first in my journal. Writing by hand allows me to free associate more easily. I make connections that aren’t as readily available to me via the keyboard.
2) I read my work out loud. That way, I can tell almost immediately where and when paragraphs don’t fit together.
3) I title each paragraph for meaning. I then consider whether I’ve created a structure that has an arc and end point.
4) If it doesn’t fit, I let it go. Used to be that I’d work for hours trying to make room for a misfit paragraph or favorite phrase. I’ve become more ruthless with experience.
Weaving threads of meaning together is an art that takes practice. I find the process endlessly fascinating and wonderfully absorbing. And at times it drives me quite mad. But such is the writing life.
So please let me know how you find your flow.
And join me, if you live in the Bay Area, as I teach “Wild Landscapes Lost and Found” this Saturday, May 5, at Book Passage in Corte Madera.