Most people and if you’re a bit like me, have a problem starting things. Even things that they have already started working on – like a story or a book.
If you have been writing for sometime already I’m sure you have experienced the difference between a writing session being like pulling teeth and and yet another session you experience the flow of your mind – as if it’s all just happening for you. The writing, the ideas seem to just come out of nowhere. From the “Boys Below”, the unconscious mind is doing its job.
Isn’t it great when something like that happens. We end up writing like a pro, production goes up and we end a four or ten hour work session satisfied that we achieved something today.
The idea of Flow is found in many of the arts. From Martial arts to applied arts, people talk about the experience and try and get a handle on it. They try and figure out how to make an App out of it or programme the mind to do-it on command.
So long as we keep working at our writing, we will experience Flow. But only when its right. When the mind does something that we can’t control but the Boys in the Basement can. If there ain’t nothing in the basement, then nothings going to come up to the top room any more.
The control that we do have over the Flow idea is that we must feed our minds with the basic subject or theme of our work. We have to think consciously about what it is that we are writing and then learn how to let it go when its time to work.
Zen tells us that thinking about the object and meditating on it at the same time is wrong thinking. There’s no chance of true meditation.
In martial arts we must first practice the thousand kicks before we can execute a kick that is effective. The effective kick will show us what a real kick looks like, we can step back and think about it and practice some more and then when the time comes to fight, the mind is taken away from the practice and is focused on the opponent. The kick will come as a natural bodily reaction to the movements of the opponent. The mind already knows that the objective is to fight and win. That’s when the circumstances of Flow can express itself without the conscious mind interfering. Non-interference is the key to getting the flow, to becoming a master fighter or writer.
The story is our arena and the focus should be on the story and the direction that we want it to go in. Then we forget the thoughts that we want to do well, or trying to consciously exert control over relaxation and flow.
When we write we are like the musician on stage. She has a guitar or piano to play and the audience is waiting. It’s not the time for practice or the time to tell the audience that you need to get into flow before its good. You have to just do it and hope that today is the day that you give the best performance of your life – that day will always come and it’ll be there to experience while you write your story. The best performance happens during Flow, when you are really writing for yourself – you being your audience – Flow happens when we are not looking, when we are too busy writing to even think about it or whether it’ll come today or tomorrow.
Flow is always there and it’s always available to the writer. Just don’t go chasing it or trying to create a system to switch it on.
If you fall off your horse and try and catch him by chasing him, you’ll get very fit running after him all day. Turn around and ignore him and he will eventually turn around too, and follow you.
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