Let It Flow

Just a quick thought for today:

I write best when I'm in a flow state. Words and ideas are just coming to me and I'm putting them down on the page. It doesn't happen often. Usually, I have to struggle to think of each adjective and adverb. Getting the right noun is liking pulling, what do you call them? Feet? Nope, that's from the Little Mermaid. Teeth. I definitely don't recommend waiting for flow state in order to write. If I did that I would have written precisely zero words this week. But, when the flow state arrives, it feels marvelous, and you don't want to break it up by getting distracted by something that is not writing related.

Here is the problem. What do you do when you're happily writing a chapter in a state of flow and then you realize, wait a second, I don't know what kind of shops they have on Peach Street in Atlanta. Or, what kind of hairstyle would this black girl who works in a coffee shop and loves anime have? Or what does a presidential briefing from the CDC look like?

All of those questions are important. Also, all of them require research to answer accurately, but research requires time. Which means pausing my writing, and looking up the right answer on the web, or reading a book about the topic, or asking an expert. And all of those things will break me out of my state of flow.

Here's what I've started doing instead. I just make a note that there's something I'm going to have to learn more about. I've talked before about using variables in writing, like a programmer does. I'll write #info{scuba-diver-name} if I have to think up someone's name up later. Or I might write #info{Atlanta-street} for a street that I'm going to have to look up.

If there's a topic I'm really going to have to spend time researching, I'll put a different hash-tag. #research with the topic in brackets. For example, #research{CDC-presidential-briefings}. Then in my Notes folder, I keep a text file with a list of all the topics I need to research. The truth is, I don't even have to keep a separate file. I can just search my novel later for anything listed as #research or #info.

Is this a nerdy way to write a book? Yes. Am I nerd? Also yes. Give it a try if you'd like. Happy writing!