To Really Stay In the Flow, Try Paring Down

I will not Reason & Compare, my business is to Create!

William Blake

As a writer, it is all to easy to get bogged down by complex ideas, intricately layered plot points. It can feel overwhelming to navigate scene after scene and wonder whether the pacing feels believable or whether anything even makes any sense.

You can have all the organizational tools in the world at your disposal. Multi-tiered outlines, color-coded character timelines and charts. . . and everything can still fall flat.

If it feels hard for you, it will probably feel hard for the reader.

When in doubt. . .


Let everything be there, but see what emerges when you focus on what is most important. Then on what is next. Then on what is next.

One thing at a time. The most important things first.

I’m not saying you should become a minimalist. If any ism is involved here, it should be essentialism.

Focus on the essentials, and breathe life into those. Let the openness of your focus on these essentials be enriched by them.

“Paring down” does not mean a spartan abandonment of detail or intricacy, necessarily. Instead, the invitation is to release any notion that perfection has to come through suffering and tension.

By letting go of the need for complexity, you make room for realness and clarity.

Freewriting is about feeling free, which means discovering the ways you find yourself grasping towards things needing to be better or another way… and letting that go.

If it didn’t get said perfectly, press onward nevertheless.

If a better way to state something comes to you, then see if you can state it that way by just typing it again instead of going back and correcting.

Simplicity sharpens focus

Focus is powerful.

Don’t let your focus be pulled towards mistakes and unnecessary complexity. Focus on where you want to go.

When you focus on things being correct, you limit what can show up for you.

New ideas aren’t correct. They don’t fit into any mold. By definition, being new, they stand apart. They’re different.

We want new ideas. We want the best ideas, and yet we find ourselves straining to somehow squeeze them what we have and improve it.

What does it mean to simplify as a writer?


Let go of the need to strain, to pour on more fuel, to force yourself. Maybe if you’re doing a writing sprint, that can work. But if you want to sustain the flow for any length of time, if you want the flow to be a place where you can rest, if you want to feel nourished and supported and vitalized by what you write rather than drained…

Breathe and stay with it.

One thing that a 24 hour long writing marathon teaches is that trying to force things doesn’t yield results. If your focus is true and you have the energy to stick with it, eventually you will get there.

Adjust your focus as you go.

Let go of expectations, but keep a sense of focus towards what you want.

There is something you want, something you are working towards.


You’re open to things being how they actually are, which may be different from how you think they are.

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