Flow is something the reader experiences

“Your job as a writer is making sentences.
Your other jobs include fixing sentences, killing sentences, and arranging sentences.
If this is the case – making, fixing, killing, arranging – how can your writing possible flow?
It can’t.

Flow is something the reader experiences, not the writer.

A writer may write painstakingly,
Assembling the work slowly, like a mosaic,
Fitting and refitting sentences and paragraphs over the years.
And yet to the reader the writing may seem to flow.”

| Several short sentences about writing by Verlyn Klinkenborg

Verlyn Klinkenborg’s warnings about flow are as articulate as they are important. This passage reminded me of a quote from five time NBA All Star Damian Lillard – “If you want to look good in front of thousands, you have to outwork thousands in front of nobody.”

You can bet that the process of outworking thousands in front of nobody was fraught with pain and struggle. Few would describe that process as “natural” or filled with “flow.”

But, given time, energy, and patience, that process will create performances filled with flow. Or as Verlyn Klinkenborg notes in the context of writing – “Flow doesn’t describe the act of writing. It describes the effect of writing.”


PS: In case you are intrigued by all these notes on sentences, Anna has a fun blog where she deconstructs the first sentences of books.