It happens when I am enjoying the complete opposite of time dragging, that is, the sense of not being ‘in time’ at all.
When I am engrossed like this I will tend to forget about dinner time, or turning the lights on when it is dark. I won’t feel hungry or cold and I have to set alarms to remind me of appointments etc.
A STATE OF FLOW
Flow isn’t just something that applies to writers, it can be experienced by a diverse amount of individuals at work, or play.
Flow is a state of being where a person is so engaged and so totally involved in an activity that time passes so quickly it simply ceases to exist.
The unconscious appears to have taken over and in doing so seems like a creative force in its own right.
Writers, artists, dancers, singers, engineers, runners, in fact all creative, focused and dedicated individuals can experience flow.
Many would say that their best work is accomplished while in a state of flow. I can recall being in a state of flow during long distance hill walks. In this state of mind each subsequent mile seems effortless.
From my own experience flow appears to be a state of being, or consciousness over which we have little control. It is a wonderful way to be. So how do we reach that state?
HOW DO YOU ACHIEVE A STATE OF FLOW?
It is perhaps easier to answer the question – how not to achieve a state of flow. Striving to achieve ‘flow’ is counter productive.
The very act of ‘striving’ will ensure you never achieve it. Have you ever tried to achieve peace of mind through striving?
It doesn’t work. Flow, like peace of mind, is a state you can only achieve when you are not trying to achieve it.
Flow is something that comes very naturally, it is a by-product of concentration. Removing your focus from the ‘goal of flow’ and focusing on your work, or task at hand is the only way to get there.
Thinking hard about writing, or painting, or running – whatever your pursuit will not achieve flow. You have to do it. You have to take part.
That’s why I always place such emphasis on practice. If you are not sure what to write then stop thinking and just write.
If you are beginning your writing journey and don’t know where to start I suggest you start with one of the writing exercises on this site.
Creative writing exercises like these will get you into the habit and rhythm of writing. This is very important and if you are serious about writing you must write regularly.
Professional and successful writers write regularly. They regard writing as a job, or career (hopefully one they enjoy) and show up at their desk, or table on a regular basis.
The time doesn’t matter, whether you choose to write at dusk or dawn, or from nine to five makes no difference, as long as you write regularly. Experiment by writing at different times and discover which time best suits you.
I personally find the mornings to be the best time to write. My energy is higher, my mind is clearer and I find it easier to write quickly.
The faster you write the less time your mental editor has to interrupt you with corrections, flaws or moments of self-doubt.
Stopping to make corrections interrupts the creative process and you are less likely to achieve flow when you stop and start.
Distractions are inevitable. We can’t stop our phones ringing, or emails arriving but what we can do is stop ourselves hearing them, seeing them and therefore responding to them.
So turn your phone and internet off and tell the ‘interrupters’ in your life you won’t be available for a short time but that you can connect with them later.
If you find saying no and setting boundaries for your ‘interrupters’ difficult you will find some help here.
FORGET ABOUT GOALS
I know there are some people for whom the idea of forgetting about goals is an aberration, but, if you are focused on your goals while you are in the act of writing – you are not focused on your writing – you are focused on goals.
If you hope to achieve creative flow you will need to recognise this difference.
This is a big difference. Having goals is great, but while you are actually writing you must be focused on your story and your characters.
Do not focus on your word count, or the amount of money you hope your story will make. Stay focused on the writing, the story, the characters, and what you are going to make them do next.
As always I wish you the best of luck with your writing and hope you will soon experience the joy of creative writing flow.
P.S. All the information and exercises on this site are free for you. All I ask in return is that you like, share or even leave a comment. I always answer.