I asked myself a question the other day. Why do we write? Or perhaps to re-frame it in a more general fashion, why do we indulge in creative activity. The answer, I believe is to experience moments or periods of ‘flow’. To seek a state where one is ‘in the moment’ or ‘in the zone’. That almost euphoric state of mind where time and space disappear and you and your psyche are in complete harmony, working at your best, in whatever way or on whatever task that suits the unique make-up of your brain. It is a state of being that makes the most of what a person can be. It is a state where one is at one with oneself and the universe. That is why we create, that is why we do, whatever it is that we do.
Of course, you may think this just some metaphysical mumbo jumbo, but no, dear reader, it is a state of existence that has been extensively studied and documented, and you can read all about it here.
I believe we as human beings seek ‘flow’ in our lives. More than that I think we need it, and without it we can be more prone to depression and dissatisfaction with our lives. So we look for it wherever we can. In that respect I believe that we can find it in different ways that help us deal with often mundane truth of base reality. These different states of flow, which I have not seen described before, are as follows.
- Passive flow. This is the feeling of satisfaction one gets from a novel, film, computer game or TV program that really connects with us, that we loose our-self in. But it is essentially a passive process. We have no active part to play in it, we are merely consumers. Ever binge watched a TV series? That is a form of flow.
- Connected flow. Now you are part of the process. A play, a concert, a comedy gig. You, the and the performer(s) are in sync. Everybody is sharing a magic moment when you all come together and share a common almost mystical moment of being connected and at one. A truly memorable experience.
- Active flow. This is the essence of flow. When your own unique mix of skills and capabilities are being used to the max. Sports, painting, writing, music, spreadsheets….yes even spreadsheets. We all have creative capabilities, and they can manifest them in a myriad different ways. The trick is to find that thing or activity that gives you the maximum opportunity to experience flow in your life.
The reason that I was interested in the subject is that recently I have started a part-time job, the reasons for which needn’t concern us here; however I have noticed its effect on the amount and times that I achieve flow when writing. In short starting work, with the inevitable mental distraction has made the process of writing more difficult, more laboured, the moments of being ‘in the zone’ more infrequent. It maybe it’s just the distraction of learning new people, processes and systems and once that is over the ‘flow’ to the writing will return. But it is interesting that the fact of changing my previous status quo has had such an effect, and that it has affected me quite as noticeably. I miss my ‘flow’ and I’ll be honest; I want it back.
See you out there.