I’m working on my script for getting really engaged in creative work. Last time, I wrote about some of the ways I set aside distraction dealing with external distractions and internal worries. The final kind of distraction that often gives me trouble is different. It’s a preoccupation with the bigger picture.
Ironically, too much thought about the big picture can frustrate progress on it. At the same time, if I try to simply disregard the whole, I often feel disoriented and make less efficient use of my time. I have a holistic bent that makes this step kind of satisfying and reassuring, and it makes my work more efficient.
Notice how a web of interconnecting thoughts is waiting for you…
After a glance at the whole to orient myself, I can let my mind turn to the work that I’ve chosen. Worries are dealt with, and even tangents start leading me back to that work. The process really does happen naturally when I create a pocket of calm for it… Continue reading
Recently, I’ve been expanding on a script I use to initiate focused and fully engaged creative work. The third step in that script is to set aside distractions. I’m changing the wording a little, so here it is in updated form.
Set aside distractions. If your environment is distracting, note it for future mise en place preparations, and adjust. Start by deciding that it’s not a big deal, and you’ll deal with it if necessary. Allow your attention shift from external to internal. Continue reading
Step two of my script for engaging in creative work reminds me to clear my mind and purposely set up a slow, even breathing cadence:
Clear your mind. Take three steady, smooth breaths. Think of this breathing cadence as a metronome for your work.
This is probably the most new-agey feeling part of my script. That makes me a little bit uncomfortable, but this breathing thing really seems to help. For others who share my preference for some basis in evidence… Continue reading
I’ve been working with this little script I made to help myself get into a state of calm concentration that is or readily leads to a flow condition. Any work done that way seems better, easier, more efficient and more enjoyable regardless of how creative, or even merely cognitive, it may seem. It works for a wide range of different tasks, processes, or skills. If I could, I would probably do everything this way, but I most care about writing.
If it’s possible for an MMA fighter like Anderson Silva to get into the zone while someone tries to punch him, it should be a cinch with writing, but I find flow condition writing especially tough to commence.
This is my working hypothesis: the principle reason it’s harder to initiate flow state writing is because writing well demands full engagement of verbal faculties. An athlete can use self talk to help initiate this state, and do that while in motion. That doesn’t work so well with writing because, if I’m writing words and trying to overlay self talk, it’s very easy for one to bleed into the other. That interferes with the writing enough that it’s almost certain to eject me from a nascent flow condition.
We all want to be better at what we do, but too often we approach it from a harried state of distraction or a tentative state, trying to minimize engagement or commitment. Recent experience suggests a better way.