Here’s a beautiful image of what “flow” feels like to a composer while creating music:
“You are in an ecstatic state to such a point that you feel as though you almost don’t exist.I have experienced this time and time again. My hand seems devoid of myself, and I have nothing to do with what is happening. I just sit thee watching it in a state of awe and wonderment. And [the music] just flows out of itself.”
What glorious, joyful moments these are — when we are so caught up in what we are creating that we lose all sense of ourselves and all sense of time. We are fully absorbed and fully focused — we are in “flow.”
“Flow” — what a lovely word, and how apt! In those moments when we are totally lost in our writing, words pour out of us like a river of gold. Often they’re surprising and unexpected— we wonder where they came from.
There’s a simple, but powerful recipe for encouraging the fulfillment that these experiences give us:
Challenge + Skill = Creative Flow
Chasing flow doesn’t work, but we can court it — we can invite it into our writing lives. How? According to psychologist and author Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi, who coined the term “flow,” we can nourish our creative energy by:
•. Being surprised by something every day.
•. Following a spark of interest wherever it leads.
•. Recognizing that enjoyment and skill go hand in hand.
•. Increasing the complexity of enjoyable activities.
•. Looking at problems from as many angles as possible.
•. Producing as many ideas as possible.
•. Focusing on generating unlikely ideas.
•. Making time for reflection and relaxation.
All these ways of inviting flow into our lives and our work are within our grasp. Let’s embrace them as we all write on!
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