For me, flow is my state of mind when I am so completely and utterly absorbed in the act of writing that I have no sense of time passing.
It happens when I am enjoying the complete opposite of time dragging.
There is a 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 while at work, or at play.
Flow is a state of being where a person is so engaged and so totally involved in an activity that time simply ceases to exist.
The unconscious appears to have taken over the mind. In doing so it 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.
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 counterproductive.
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. Start with some creative writing exercises.
Creative writing exercises get you into the habit and rhythm of writing. If you are really serious about writing this is vital.
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.
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 want to achieve creative flow you will need to recognize 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. I have been working for years to put together all the information, exercises and tips on this site to help writers. But, I need your support – just like, share or comment to spread the word, or you can make a donation to help with the costs involved. Every little helps to keep this site going.
Any donation is welcome.
Another way you can show your support for the site is to buy and review Practical Creative Writing Exercises. You won’t be sorry because this book is packed full of inspiring exercises to get your ideas flowing right away.