Writing with flow

August 13, 2009

P6030515You just got to love Twitter. Today was such a day that I found one weblog after another where they talked about blogging. Well, not just about blogging, but about how to write on your blog. And if there is anything in the world that I need to learn, it is just that, writing.

I just can not seem to find the right way to do that. Writing purely from myself seems a lot like rambling. And integrating thoughts of others make me stumble and struggle. So the blogpost I found today about How to write with flow, was exactly what I needed.

My very first problems are indeed when I do the following.

Read your writing aloud. I don’t care what you’re writing. It could be a press release, it could be website copy, it could be the latest chapter of that novel you’ve been writing for the last five years. Read it aloud. Read every single word.

I often end up totally cluttered with words when I read aloud. Which means probably that I do not do it enough.

We’re looking for flow. When you read aloud, you’ll find certain sentences don’t sound right. Your tongue trips over them. You lose track of what you were trying to say. You find that the comma you inserted in the middle there makes you sound like you have a mild speech disorder. All of these things are problems with your flow.

Yes, the commas, big problem. But maybe I should just get my sentences shorter.

This is what reading aloud does for you. It is practice in flow. So read aloud. If you catch yourself skipping words, take them out of the draft. If you catch yourself substituting one word for another or rearranging the grammar in your head, make the correction.

This is what I find, by far, the hardest thing to do. Finding the right words. Finding the word that says what I mean to say. Maybe it is a foreign language thing, but even in Dutch I have those problems while writing.

Do not, I repeat, do not trust yourself to remember where the problems are when you’re done reading. Edit as you go, and make your edits. Then read it aloud again.

Indeed something I find out again and again. And one of the things I am doing better, now that I forced myself to write a blogpost every day for a month.

The month is not over yet, so maybe there is still hope to have some flow before I start my new weblog. And finally use writing as a way to structure my mind, instead of breaking my head about writing.


7 Responses to “Writing with flow”

  1. Michele Says:

    So, true! If you want to get the rhythm and flow of writing, read it aloud. All the trips and stumbles show up. This is true for technical writing as well as fiction. Language has rhythm and melody, and a well-written sentence is never hard to read.

  2. sinaisix Says:

    Reading aloud works well for me.

  3. Annemieke Says:

    Sinaisix yes, it really seems to work I guess. And Michele, rhythm and melody in language, wonderful!

    Very occasionally I have that indeed, ‘a well-written sentence’. Every time I read that again I am delighted. And that seems to have come naturally, without really thinking about it.

    But most of the time I have to edit a lot to make it flow.

  4. I do sometimes read out loud,.. making a mental note, right now, to do it ALWAYS.

    I like this post!

  5. Never try to express a thought, let the thought emerge from the words. One should always write with nothing in mind. That’s my philosophy of writing. The whole point is to discover something, not pander pre-conceived ideas.

  6. timethief Says:

    When it comes to writing flow I just write and let it happen. After I have written I go back over what I have read, read it aloud, and then edit if necessary.

  7. Annemieke Says:

    WhiteSockGirl: So you also make these mental notes, I do too. It always helps to make a determined statement to myself. And it indeed seems like a good idea to read aloud more.

    Nothing profound: I think you have really interesting thoughts about writing. I was thinking about how I see that but it is still not clear to me.

    You say “Never try to express a thought, let the thought emerge from the words”. This seems so really very true, but in order to do that you need enough words.

    And I never seem to have enough of them. Sometimes a see a word used in a text or a discussion which seems to fit something I have been thinking about. Then I look it up and sometimes have a really ‘yes that I what I meant to say’ moment. I love those moments!

    Timethief: That seems like a perfect balance between a natural flow and a necessary structure. Wish it worked for me like that too!

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