Page Up Ep #4: Hacking into Flow Author Feeling State
In this episode, Dr. Lauria teaches you a ninja technique for hacking into a flow state with your writing. If you want massive productivity as a non-fiction author and as little wasted time and energy as possible you need to learn how to use her Author Feeling State scale to tap into your inner author and crank out 500, 1000, or even 2000 words an hour. Consistently!
In this episode you will learn:
- The difference between white knuckling and writing in flow
- How long it takes to write a book from a state of flow
- The secret to hacking into a flow state
- Exactly what to do when you can’t get into flow
- A super-simple tool that guarantees you will be able to reach the flow state on command
Featured on this show:
For more on Author Feeling State hacking see my book – The Difference: 10 Steps for Writing a Book that Matters
Listen To The Show:
Get the Full Episode Transcript:
You’re listening to PageUp with Dr. Angela Lauria episode four, hacking into the Author Feeling State.
Welcome to page up a podcast for authors and transformation, featuring advice on the basic fundamentals of selecting a topic and overcoming writer’s block to advanced techniques for publishing and marketing nonfiction books. Now, get ready to press page up on your book with your host, best selling author and publisher, Dr. Angela Lauria.
Well, Hey, everyone, and welcome back to page up, and I’m so excited. So I survived my birthday was awesome. And one of the things that made it so great is all the amazing comments from you guys. I’ve been getting emails and Facebook PMS, and it’s just been nice to hear everyone’s feedback. I’m always interested in what your book journey is like. So you can go to the Author Incubator comm slash four, if you want to comment on this episode or just go to the author incubator.com slash one, two or three for our first three episodes. I would love to hear your voice too if I haven’t heard from you this episode today we’re going to go the next level. So if you haven’t listened to Episode Three, you may want to check that out. This will still make sense if you haven’t done it. But what I really want to talk about is hacking into that flow author feeling state. How do you right from that place of maximum productivity? And so we talked in our last episode about why writer’s block is awesome. So writer’s block is the window to this flow author feeling state. Now once you have that window once you have that opportunity, I want to talk today about how to create more of that, and without the pain of writer’s block. So I mentioned even if you are writing below what your what your hours what your words per hour rate is, if you’re writing 20% below that consistently, you’re in what I call writer’s block. Now it might not be a total block, but you are less productive than you should be. So when you catch this earlier, when you catch it when you’re only, you know, reduce 20% efficiency rather than when you are not writing at all and sort of beating yourself up it’s a much more pleasant experience. So I’m going to teach you how to find and ride this wave. That’s what today is about.
So I teach you the author feelings date tool, this is going to lead to massive productivity for you and as little wasted time and wasted word count as possible. So in order to have the most possible words per minute used, I need to teach you the author feeling state tool. So here’s how the tool works. We’re just gonna dive in today. And I’m not even telling you why I think it’s so important to write from a state of flow, I’m going to assume you’re going to go with me, and that if you could be writing 500 1000, or even 2000 words per hour, you would want to do that. But Step one is to give yourself a writing prompt that will be very easy to write about a topic that if I suggested it, you know, you would have no problem writing for 30 minutes straight on that. So this could be something like describing your house, going through each room in your house to describing your house. It could be writing a love letter to your child what you want for them for their future. It could be what I recommend at our three days to done or three day events where people show up with a book idea. And they leave with a finished book in just three days.
One of the ways we do that is we start with this exercise and I ask them to explain why they are writing this book. So I actually have them imagine their book is done and, and tell me why they wrote the book. So any writing prompt will do, you can even Google writing prompts and maybe they’ll give you a writing prompt, like my favorite rainy day activity or something like that doesn’t really matter what it is. And then you set your timer to 30 minutes, and I want you to write for 30 minutes on whatever this topic is. And it just has to be the absolute easiest thing you can imagine writing about.
So then what you’ll do at the end of the 30 minutes is you will check your word count and you’re going to go that word count. And that is your words per hour, your WP h. So for me and a half an hour, I would write 1000 words. And so my words per hour is 2000 words. Now, some people don’t believe me, that’s their words per hour. So they want to test this out again. So that’s totally fine. This is a repeatable test. So you can try it with another writing prompt. Or you can try it for the full hour. If you want to test it that way. I have tested this with hundreds of authors, I find it to be extremely consistent. And when people find this out, they’re shocked. But it’s really important that you pick a writing prompt that isn’t going to bring up your stuff. It’s not going to be writing about your highly contentious divorce, or, you know, writing about something that will be upsetting to you, it should just be easy. And like I said, 30 minutes is plenty. If you want to do it for the full hour, you can, what I do sometimes what I used to do, I actually don’t do this anymore, because it was sort of a waste of time. But what I used to do is have people do this exercise three times, and then we would take the average of the three times but what I found was it was very consistent. So if somebody wrote 500 words in a half an hour, one time, the next time it would be 490. Next time, it would be 510. And it would average out to 500 words. So I stopped the best out of three. And I now just do it once. So however you want to do this experiment to believe it now. We are not testing your thinking time, your research time, your googling time. We are only testing your writing time. So you must write about something you know, and something you wouldn’t be blocked about in some way. And just keep in mind, you’re just writing this for yourself. So this isn’t being written to be published, nobody ever necessarily has to see it. That’s pretty much the criteria.
Now. Once you write this, when you finish it, you get your words per hour, I want you to reflect on how you felt while you were writing it. Now, the reason this is important is because we are about to create a pretty massive grid. And this will be an information point for that grid. Now, maybe when you were writing you were in a total place of bliss. You connected with the writing prompt, it brought up some major emotional stuff. Maybe it was some of the best writing you’ve ever done in your life. Or maybe you just wrote and you talked about your favorite rainy day. activity and you know all about whatever making painting pottery at home or whatever your favorite rainy day activity is. And, and it was fine and you were writing consistently but it wasn’t a big emotional experience, you didn’t feel like the Muses came down and fluttered their wings in your face, you were just writing.
So I want you to think about that because we are about to create what I call an HFS or an author, feeling state scale. It’s my eye AFS scale. So your author’s feeling state is very important to identify and we’re going to do this in a very tedious way. But I promise you once you learn this, it will not be tedious anymore, so you’ll be able to identify it very quickly. So your author feeling state scale is a number line that goes from negative 10 to positive 10.
Anytime that you, you believe you have writer’s block, so you would tell me you’re blocked. And what I mean by that is you cannot get any words on the page, nothing is coming out, you make appointments, you don’t show up for them, you open the document you stare at a blank screen you are not writing. So if that is happening to you, if writing is not happening, you are negative on the author feeling state scale, you are somewhere between negative one and negative 10. Now, negative 10 on the author feelings date scale comes with a lot of shame, a very heavy dose of shame. In fact, if you’re a negative 10 you feel horrible about the fact you’re not writing, you’re lying about it definitely to yourself, maybe to other people, you have a knot in your stomach. If you even think about your manuscript, and you are trying to figure out the secret backdoor or the secret handshake, how can you get this done? It feels like a disaster. Maybe it’s keeping you up at night. But a negative 10 feels pretty intense. And it’s pretty hard to see your way out of it. If you’re a negative one, you are not writing but maybe it doesn’t feel as bad you’re thinking maybe it’ll be fixed tomorrow. Maybe I’ll go for a walk, maybe I’ll call a friend. you’ve kind of got some solutions, you might not be totally implementing them. But you are not hopeless and and tragically, shame feels fulfilled, although there’s probably a little element of shame in there. So that is the negative space.
Now what I want you guys to do, is I want you to go through the entire range from now. Negative 10 to negative one. And I want you to think of a time where you were having an experience with those numbers. And what I mean by that is, if you, let’s say you had a major paper due for college, and you didn’t get it in on time, and you almost didn’t graduate, or maybe you joined a program and there was something due and you didn’t do it, if you can think of a time where you were at a negative 10. And it was horrible, horrible, horrible, the worst you can imagine, maybe you thought you were going to get fired or lose your job. I’ve heard people talk about their wedding vows this way that they were blocked and they couldn’t get their wedding vows out. That would be your negative 10. Maybe you were going to not get married. And your negative one might have happened last week or earlier today. So I want you to think of 10 experiences. I know it’s hard but they are in their 10 experiences where you couldn’t write and rank them on the scale. Now if you can’t get all 10, see how many you can get, but your goal is to fill in the scale as much as possible. So you know how you feel exactly in your body, when you kind of sort of have writer’s block and when you are tragically blocked.
Okay, and it’s a really tight level of sophistication. The better you get at this, the quicker you will be able to identify exactly where you are in the author’s feelings days scale. Now, if you are writing, if writing is happening, now it might be one word per hour or 10 words per hour or it might be 2000 words per hour. But if words are going on to the page, you are in a positive author, feeling state you ‘re not in flow necessarily, but you are in that positive author feeling state. So that’s the difference between positive and negative negative equals no word count. Positive equals some word count, even if it’s one word. So I want you to do the same thing here. And this way is a little bit easier. So if you’re a positive one, you are sitting at your computer, you might be frustrated. You might be thinking about what a terrible writer you are and how you shouldn’t have told people you were going to write your book. You might be beating yourself up, you might be drinking, but words are going on the page. Even if it’s at a rate of only one per hour. You are writing something now you might be deleting most of it. You might hate most of it, but some words are going on the page. I call that white knuckling it. In fact, anywhere between one and five is white knuckling it although a five Pretty pleasant. In fact, I will tell you that almost every book I have written and I have ghost written many books, almost all of the books I’ve written, I have written from a five on the author feeling state scale. Now that means I am totally in my left brain, I am completely writing this from the perspective of what I should write. I’ve written enough papers, I know what should go here. And I am writing from a place of force or a schedule. It’s not inspired action. Exactly, but I’ve got a job to do and someone’s paying me and so I’m going to sit down at 2pm and I’m going to write until 5pm when I turn off my computer and leave this office, and so my word count when I am at a positive five is somewhere around 750 to 1000 words per hour. Now again, my flow state total is 2000 words per hour. If I were writing and dear god I have had these days, but if I were writing, let’s say 100 words an hour or 200 words an hour, I would be like one or two. So you can see how you can rank this. If you’re good at math, you’ll follow me. If your regular rate when you’re in flow is 1000 words per hour, then if you’re writing 100 words per hour or less, you’re probably one. If you’re writing about half of that 500 words per hour, then you are probably a five. And it roughly goes like that. So figure out a time where you were at all of these levels at a time when you were doing a PowerPoint presentation for work. And it felt like pulling teeth and you kept calling other people who odd pieces of The PowerPoint presentation because you wanted them to contribute their bits, right? Maybe that’s a two or three. Think of a time where you wrote your annual report for work and you didn’t really like it, but you pretty much cranked it out in an hour.
Think about a time when you and we’re focused here on one to five, but think about a time when you were writing. I always think of this in terms of school, but you were writing what you thought you should. And maybe you felt good about that. Or maybe you felt bad about it, but you were like, I’m writing about how Hamlet is like Oedipus and so I should talk about their relationship with their mothers. And it’s that sort of, you know, I call it my smart girl brain, right? That to me is usually around three or four. They aren’t really my ideas. They kind of are not really flowing, but I’m writing. So identify one through five And then here’s the fun part six through 10, our flow state. So I say flow state as a continuum. You know what 10 feels like. Because it’s pretty much like Nirvana you sit down to write and it’s like somebody else’s writing words are coming out of your fingertips. Sometimes you can’t even get the words out as fast as you’re thinking them. It’s like you’re channeling your book, or downloading your book or somebody whispering in your ear. And your job is only to type that is a 10. If you read my book, the difference is 10 steps to writing a book that matters. That book was almost completely written at a 10 I would say about 80% of it. I was at a 10 I could barely keep up. I was typing about 2200 words per hour. And it just absolutely flowed out of me now if you think that is the universe or Some sort of channel for a higher power. Fantastic if you think it is just a scientific optimal peak performance amazing. Either way, I think if you find my book on Amazon calm and you read it or read a sample from it, I think you will see that it flows very naturally but you don’t look at it and think wow, she probably wrote this really quickly in a flow state. And that’s what’s amazing about this kind of writing. It just seems like you tossed it off because pretty much did. It’s coming from your highest self, your inner author, your clearest, most focused, least conflicted part of yourself. It is the most fun, joyful way to write and in fact, anywhere from six to 10 is a pretty fucking fun way to write. So, I want you to go ahead and identify a time that you were at six, seven Eight, nine and 10 and see if you can get that specific. A six for me is pretty close to my hourly count of 2000 words an hour, I would be at least at 1500 to 1750. I’m not doing a lot of thinking there’s not a lot of self doubt, I’m almost in a state of worthlessness. So there’s not a lot of that third eye analysis that there is when I’m at a 345. So I’m relaxed, I’m comfortable, I’m not thinking about what’s wrong with my chair or how I wish I had another cup of tea and just it’s just happening. So that’s what I want you to do: identify as many points as you can on the chain from negative 10 to positive 10, and write those down and in fact, if you do write them down, go to the Author Incubator comm slash for this episode. Episode. And you can actually share that in the comments, share with us some of your experiences, some of your feelings between negative 10 and positive 10 on the author feeling state scale. Now, once you’ve done this, and I don’t mean just write it down, but as you write it down, I want you to also connect in your body with how those feeling states feel right? Then I want you to think back to that little writing test you did for me. And that was with your writing prompt. So maybe your writing prompt was this is why I wrote this book. Why did I write this book? Whatever your writing prompt was, I want you to identify where you were on the author field state scale. You should be somewhere probably between a four and a seven. Some of you might have just had one of those Nirvana moments.
If you were born Low of three, you need to redo that assignment. Um, really, if you are below a five, I’d like you to redo that assignment but we can tweak it if you feel like you were right at a five or close. And like I said, if you want to repeat that writing assignment, do it again. And you can sort of compare how much you write and how you feel. So usually, if you are in flow state, you’re going to be writing a lot more and a lot more of it will be usable. And that’s what we’re looking for is usable word count. Okay, so once you’ve identified where you were when you were writing, add that to your line chart, you know how that feels.
And then I want you to talk to you about how you’re going to use this author feeling state scale. So if you get into this habit, this will dramatically increase your word count. Here’s what you need to do. Every time you sit down to write and I have a little reminder on my desk of this, all you have to do is check in with your author’s feelings. So, where are you on that continuum? You should now know how all of the places feel. And so the question is, where do you think you are and here’s the thing, go with your gut, you’re probably right or you’re very, very close. Once you’ve identified that, once you know where you are on the feeling state scale, you have some choices to make. So if you check in and you are negative, and you’ve got that feeling you are not going to be writing. You can then go back to some of the tools that I taught in Episode Three if you need to re-listen to that the Author Incubator comm slash three you can go back into those tools. And you can use those exercises. You can download the creativity tempo, I’ll put it under the resources here for this exercise. You can take a timed break from your writing, you can do some non dominant handwriting. You can even just start writing how you feel and why you’re not in flow state, the most important thing to do is acknowledge where you are without judgment. Oh look interesting. I’m a negative three. Now, here’s what happens when you do this. And it seems so counterintuitive. But once you say, Oh, look, I’m at a negative three, you are almost instantly at a negative two. So just by observing without judgment, where you are on the author, feeling state scale, you move towards that state of flow that six to 10. State on the scale. I love this about it because it is the easiest step of all steps.
So once you acknowledge where you are, then you can do some things to change that. So when you’re negative, the most important thing that you promise me is that one you acknowledge where you are in two you do not try to write. Now, here’s why I say that because if you think about your inner author as a, let’s say a fragile little seven or eight year old girl, who is easily scared off, right? If you start forcing her like we are going to play Barbies, whether you want to or not, she is going to take off in a tantrum. And so I want you to focus on and I want you in your head to call this working on your book. This is what working on your book looks like. So what I want you to do is to call forth here in our office. And to make it a safe space for her, and to tell her you’re not going to try and force her into writing when she doesn’t feel up for it, and be open to whatever message she has for you. Because as we know from Episode Three, if you are in a negative author, feeling state, there is some good news for you because there is a breakthrough a common Now, if you’re in positive territory, but maybe you’re only a one or two or three, you can do some of those same exercises to bump yourself up into flow state. The most important thing here is acknowledge where you are, hey, I’m at a three. And that already bumps you up to a point that puts you at a four right there because you’re creating this safe space for your inner author which is so key. And then the next step is to just really ask your inner author, what do you need to be asked? Five or six. So you always just want to move her just into flow state just over it, bump it up a point or two at a time. Don’t try and go from a one to a 10. But really be respectful of that journey. That’s what makes it happen faster actually has a little side surprise. So that could be a 15 minute walk around the block, it could be making your bed, it could be putting the dishes away in the sink, there are a number of things but most important thing here, acknowledge you are working on your book. If you’re doing the dishes, you’re working on your book. If you’re taking a walk, you’re working on your book. Why do we know this by the way, acknowledge it, because by creating a safe space for your inner author, you’re getting the most word counts as quickly as possible. So even if you lose 15 minutes of writing time, your total word count in that hour is going to be higher than it would if you tried to force yourself to write
So that is the author feeling state tool, you identify first you have to learn your line so get how you feel between negative 10 and positive 10. And then when you sit down to write, you simply identify where you are. And if you are not somewhere between six to 10, you just try and move yourself up one notch at a time. And here’s the one last thing I’ll say is, you can also choose to write between a one and a five. So if you if you are choosing to write you are not negative. And really, if you’re choosing to write and it’s not just happening at you, you’re probably between a one and a five. So a six to attend almost doesn’t even feel like a choice. So like I said, I wrote most of my college papers in somewhere between a four and a five I wrote most of my ghost written books from that place. It doesn’t feel too Terrible sometimes you dip down to a one or two. And that’s not super fun. Most people who complain about writing their book they say writing a book is torture, they wrote between a one and a five. So if you’re writing between a six and a 10, I can assure you, you are not complaining. And if you are in negative territory, you’re not writing a book. So that’s how I know that. So here’s the awesome news. You can choose to what I call white knuckle it you can choose to write between one and five. The way you do that is you simply acknowledge I met a three I recognize that I could do some activities that would be working on my book to get myself to a six, but I would rather just work at a three and I will white knuckle it and I’ll use my smart girl left brain and I will get this thing written come hell or high water. I don’t want to do any fancy stuff. I just want to write it. Now. What’s the fun story there? It’s not gonna surprise You, but what you will find is that that actually also moves you up. And so just by acknowledging it, you will actually write your book faster. So that is the author feeling state tool, you know how to hack your way into flow. Now, it’s a valuable one don’t misuse it. I would love to hear your thoughts and experiments with that. So please leave some comments for me. I would love to hear your stories about the author feelings date tool for sure. That said, I’ve got some sort of bad news because in our next episode, we’re going to talk about why you shouldn’t start by writing. In fact, if you want to hack your author, feelings date, so that you are writing from a place of flow so you’re writing quickly, there are six steps that I recommend you take before you start writing. So if you tune into the next episode, you’re going to find out How to really make the most out of your writing time. My authors who follow this suggestion are writing full length printed books, not little ebooks, not little manuals, but 200 250 page books and they are writing them in just 16 to 24 total hours of writing, because they are following this system. I’m going to teach it to you totally free on next week’s episode. So come on back. I can’t wait to talk to you about why you should not start by writing your book. So we’ll talk to you in the next episode.
This has been another episode of Patreon, where we help nonfiction authors want to book that makes a difference. If you like the show today, be sure to tell a friend and leave us a review on iTunes. Check out houses to show book Johnny’s also on iTunes. And don’t forget to sign up for our mailing list at www The author incubator.com where you can learn more about how you can get your book written.