[Wyrd Words Weekly] Deep Work vs. Flow

Hello Reader,

Recently, I listened to a podcast with “Deep Work” advocate Cal Newport that talked about the impact of social media, email, and, more broadly, distraction has on our creative work.

But he also mentioned a philosophical war of sorts between Deep Work denizens and those who adhere to Mihaly Csikszentmihali’s theory of "Flow" or what he calls "optimal experience." In a world obsessed with these sort of ideological cage matches, I often start thinking in the dialectic—what if it’s not an either / or, but a both and?

Hear me out…Although Cal Newport describes the intentionality behind his "Deep Work" as the opposite of "Flow" or that loss of time that happens when you're fully engaged in something you enjoy, he also talks about group co-working sessions as a great way to achieve Deep Work. You know, just like the flow-inducing write-ins many of us participate in regularly from places like the #5amwritersclub, London Writers Salon, NaNoWriMo, or even my Wyrd Writers Collective.

As I listened, I started to wonder whether writers use both Deep Work and Flow in their work. Certainly Flow is my goal when I sit down to write a first draft or even to write scenes as part of a revision. And if I could bottle that feeling or drink a potion to access it on command, I'd probably do it. But many of the activities I do--and encourage my clients to do--as part of deep revision are much more scientific and have less of that free-flowing abandon I feel when I'm in Flow. I mean, if I could Flow my way through an outline or a beat sheet, I might enjoy them more, but I don't think I'll ever achieve that. In fact, I don't think I should expect those activities to be joy and Flow-filled.

It occurred to me maybe this is the reason so many writers abandon their revisions half finished in favor of starting a shiny new project. It might be because Flow feels better than Deep Work (sorry Cal Newport!). It feels more like that stereotypical, illusive, muse-inspired magic that we're taught to associate with real writing (whatever that is). And yet, few would argue that the tedium of copyedits could be skipped in favor of the joy of drafting.

So maybe we just need to apply that same frame when we think about revision. Some aspects of it (hello, reading aloud!) are tedious, but they're steps not to be skipped in pursuit of a reader-ready story. Maybe, in time, we'll find the joy both in Flow and in Deep Work. I certainly feel the joy of having completed a revision even if I don't always feel it when I'm in the midst of the work.

If you'd like to listen to the full podcast, which is full of tips for getting more creative work done with less distraction, check it out: https://overcast.fm/+2-B-LGc8Y

Celebrating PRIDE!

It's Pride month, so I'm delighted to feature my friend and fellow book coach Amy Koerner here in Wyrd Words Weekly. Amy is an Author Accelerator-certified book coach and editor who specializes in helping writers of queer children’s and young adult fiction to overcome self-doubt so they can write with confidence and pride. In the safe space she creates for her writers, she encourages them to dig deep into their why and unravel the story they need to tell.

You can connect with her on Instagram at amykoerner_bookcoach or via her website, www.amykoerner.com.

If you're writing – or dreaming of writing – an LGBTQ+ story for children or young adults, then Amy's free LGBTQ+ story-writing guide will help you on your way. You'll get her 12 top story-writing tips as well as a list of 24 recent LGBTQ+ books to check out for inspiration. But it's not just a writing guide – it's a celebration of queer children's and YA fiction that will inspire and help you, wherever you are on your story-writing journey.

You can get your free guide at www.amykoerner.com/newsletter just in time to load up on spring reads for those young readers in your life.

It's Time For KidLit Summer Camp!

I'm delighted to take part in Sara Gentry's KidLit Summer Camp again this summer. This free event for KidLit authors writing picture books, middle grade, or young adult runs June 17-21 and is full of helpful advice from myself and some of my favorite colleagues. The event is free--register today at https://solutionsforwriters.com/kidlit-2024

In case you needed another reason to sign up, I'll be live as part of the Campfire on Wednesday, June 19 at 9 pm EDT / 6 pm PDT talking about all things KidLit, including how to perfect that KidLit pitch.

What I'm Reading

As thrilled as I am with the work I've been doing on my new course platform, website, and branding, I neglected my manuscript more than I should have this spring and am looking for ways to make more time for it in the second half of the year. So Cal Newport’s new book, Digital Minimalism, seemed like a good place to start.

Within hours of starting this book, I'd pulled social media from my phone and decided to stop using Apple News to curate my news feed. I'm only a week or so in and I'm already feeling a lot more space in my day to write, yes, but also to just breathe, to live, to be present. This book is jam-packed with practical tips if you've been feeling like you might need a bit of a technology cleanse.



Julie Artz | author, editor, book coach, dragon

Julie Artz works with both award-winning and newer authors across the publishing spectrum from Big Five to small and university presses to indie and hybrid. She is an Author Accelerator-certified Founding Book Coach, a sought-after speaker and writing instructor, and a regular contributor to Jane Friedman and Writers Helping Writers, and a regular instructor for AuthorsPublish, IWWG, ProWritingAid and more. Her work as a Pitch Wars and Teen Pit mentor, a former SCBWI Regional Advisor (WWA), and her memberships in The EFA, the WFWA, AWP, and the Authors Guild keep her industry knowledge sharp. A consummate social and environmental justice minded story geek, Julie lives in an enchanted forest outside of Redmond, Washington, with her husband, two strong-willed teenagers (when they’re not off at university!), and two naughty furry familiars. She’s built a thriving book coaching business based on her values, her editing chops, and her knowledge of story. Check out her weekly newsletter, Wyrd Words Weekly, and subscribe today.

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