I was scanning articles/poems I wrote more than a year ago, before stashing those away in labelled folders. Epiphany struck, that I cannot write the same pieces again. It is like the thoughts filtered in from somewhere else, while I was just a medium banging the keyboard.
It is what we call the state of ‘flow’, where one derives maximum output with minimum input. I see that as a major difference between writing prose and poetry. Prose requires a structure, a construct with application of the conscious mind and hence, necessitates a higher degree of effort. Free verse in poetry is an uninterrupted flow, and does not need a push. It just oozes out of your being, and takes a creative form on a device.
WHAT IS FLOW?
One can find different definitions and examples to explain ‘flow’ in a dictionary or thesaurus.
Wikipedia describes it as
In positive psychology, flow, also known colloquially as being in the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an 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 complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting loss in one’s sense of space and time.
The ‘zone’ is actually a space where the conscious and subconscious minds function in unity. James T. Manghan in his book ‘Perfect Living’ says that once you have entertained a thought or dream of something, you are capable of doing it. The conscious mind blocks the manifestation, by application of outer world experience or some other logic. This conflict is the source of all procrastination, fear, lack of confidence and misdirected activities.
HOW DO I GET INTO THIS STATE OF FLOW?
The process is simple for me. The first task that I do along with the morning coffee, is to write a creative piece of some description. Inspiration or writing prompts can be found on social media or blogging sites. It need not be a long piece. A three line haiku with a structured syllable count, to a single page of flowing thoughts on a theme are all good enough.
Most time management and concentration experts advise switching off notifications on your devices, while executing a task. It makes practical sense. What I have experienced is that one does not reach out for the device, in a state of flow, or just skims over the random information floating in. At my best, I start receiving notifications or articles related to the topic I am working on. It is what I loosely term synchronicity. I believe it is linked to the flow of energy in the universe.
Getting into a performance zone may need a physical alignment. Even if I am working from home, I prefer being on the desk with a minimum amount of make-up and semi-formal attire. It may sound extreme to some, but working in pajamas is not a choice for me. Grunge outfits also take away the edge that I need. It could be my individual conditioning, but I am at my best, when I’m dressed well.
Don’t eat the frog first
I believe in clearing off the tasks, which are routine, higher in volume and take minimal effort. It could be replying to mails and messages, rather than initiating any. Downloading reports and scanning posts/publications related to work could be next.
I have the requisite energy to tackle the ‘frogs’ after that, without any distractions. But there has to be a same-day commitment for the same. I have adhered to a ‘respond to all mails within 24 hours’ rule for the entire span of my career.