Writing without abandon. Who can do such a thing these days? To answer the question, YOU.
Hello Lovelies, and welcome back to the blog. Today I want to talk about the mythical unicorn that is a flow state, how to find yours, and why it will help your writing.
First of all, you might be wondering, what is a Flow State? According to Wikipedia, a flow state is one in which “a person performing some activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by the complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting transformation in one’s sense of time.”
What does being in a Flow State mean for your writing?
You’ve probably heard of this, right? A writer, consumed by passion, the muse, or some form of the divine, writes flawless prose for hours on end. These total genius writers bleed their souls onto a page and end up with something that changes the world.
When put that way, it really does sound like a mythical unicorn, doesn’t it? Like these people are prolific in some way that we will never hope to achieve.
Well, we still want to achieve it, don’t we? You can produce incredible work when you are in flow. They say you can intentionally access a flow state, but how?
How Do You Access Flow State?
You probably aren’t going to like the answer. Flow state is a place where you are so singularly focused, you feel like you are being taken along for the ride. Distracting things like surfing the internet, cats jumping on your lap, or your cell phone buzzing can throw you out of flow in a mere second, ruining that state of oneness you feel.
While I can give you ideas, you will need to find your own way of accessing flow. Doing something repetitive is almost always the most successful way. When do I do my best writing? What things do I do to try to get to a flow state?
I light a candle and let it burn for a few minutes until I can smell the scent. I love vanilla smells because they remind me of fond memories. I bake cookies every year in December and I just enjoy the way a house smells after cookies are baked, so having a vanilla scented candle makes me feel comfortable and at home.
After lighting the candle, I will often leave the room and make a cup of tea while I wait for the candle to fill the office with its aroma. I love the warm, cozy feel of the cup between my hands when I am thinking up something to write, and I love the feel of the warmth blossoming in my stomach with each sip.
Even with both of these things in place, I sometimes still cannot start writing. I curate several instrumental playlists on Spotify, as well as a ton more ASMR videos to really get me in the mood. I’ll link them at the bottom of the post if you’re interested. I find that when I listen to music or background noise, it gets me going when nothing else will, but I also know that it cannot have lyrics, or I end up thinking about the lyrics and singing along.
Okay, okay. I know this all seems great, but it’s sounding mostly woo-woo and unattainable. Well it isn’t. You can be hyper focused on whatever you’re working on for hours at a time. You have to put habits in place that optimize your space and surroundings.
Think about things you enjoy, things that relax you, things that really work for you when you’re writing. Here are some more examples:
1. Use that clackety keyboard you like. If you haven’t splurged for one yet or think they are too expensive, you’re wrong on both accounts!
2. Put a clear crystal or shaped glass piece in the window of your office so that it sparkles iridescent colors in the morning or in the evening when you’re trying to write. It could inspire you.
3. Use headphones, earbuds, or just listen to the sounds around you. I have occasionally put in earbuds at a coffee shop without listening to anything at all, just to mute the world around me.
4. Go to your favorite place in your house, your comfiest chair, your go-to cafe, or even your library.
5. Write at the same time each day.
6. Set a timer. Do a pomodoro if that works for you. I like to instead do 40 minute sprints.
7. Work on one task instead of trying to multitask.
8. Eliminate external distractions such as pets by closing a door, and turn off those email and social media notifications. In fact, you might just leave your phone on silent in another room for a while.
9. Take care of internal distractions too, not just external ones. Make sure you are hydrated, you’re not hungry, and you don’t have to use the bathroom.
10. Yes, you want to be hydrated, but you also do not want to caffeinate too much or too often. Put that third cup of coffee or that energy drink down and go for an unsweetened tea or a water with a splash of lemon juice in it instead.
Its simple to start designing your best writing environment, but I didn’t say accessing flow state was easy. Honestly, it’s super hard! But even if you attain flow state 1 in 10 or 1 in 100 times you try, wouldn’t it be worth it to try?
Okay, now it’s your turn. Have you ever reached a flow state with your writing? What was it like? What kind of rituals and habits do you have that set you up for your best writing life? Let us know all your tricks in the comments below!
Links to music and ASMR:
Chill as Coffee (Lo-Fi)
Tea Please (Japanese Lo-Fi)
String Thing (Violins and Cellos)
Guitars (Instrumental Guitars)
ASMR for Writers (On YouTube)