Ideas on Flow
I am currently reading Flow by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Nice last name!), an extraordinary book about optimal experience and enjoyment created when skill is equally matched by challenge.
Wiki defines Flow as the mental state “in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.” Flow (the book) talks about creating Flow in all aspects of life, but here I’m going to be talking about Flow when it comes to writing.
The idea of flow is complex and has far reaching implications, but what has inspired me is the concept that absorbing ourselves in the experience and not the outcome can lead us to Flow. The end product only gives you feedback once it is finished, and to reach Flow, there needs to be constant validation that skills are being utilized successfully.
Got writer’s block?
Even when you do get something down on paper, are you frustrated with the result?
This is because you are either focused on a goal too far in the distance or a goal not fit for your current skill level. Instead, try focusing on the experience of writing. You can decide what is good or bad later on. Word count goals can be useful, but if you can create a focused state that envelopes you, the high word count will be a happy byproduct. Your current goal shouldn’t be finishing chapter nine, but envisioning the scene as if it were a memory and getting it to flow into your computer or down onto the page.
If you refine the experience of writing into a Flow experience, not only will you improve your writing, you will improve the life you live as a writer.
Nice in theory, but how do we actually do that in real life? Well, we’ll get to that and more in part two.