A while back I read a book called Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi that opened my eyes to the science behind this state of mind. 'Getting in the flow' sounds wishy-washy but what this book shows is that there is plenty of science around the mental ability.
While the book talks about getting the optimal experience out of any endeavor, we will take the ideas the book gives and use them to focus better as a blogger, author, or content creator. Mihaly packs so much information into that book that there is no way we will cover it all in this post.
To receive more out of life and its experiences is the aim of Mihaly's book and is a great read for anyone who want's to get more out of their everyday. But blogging and writing is an experience for both us and our readers. When we allow ourselves to get into and stay in flow, we produce better quality content.
The better our quality the better it is for our readers. When in the flow state while writing a post, story, or poem gives us a timeless feel. We get more done in less time and spend more time writing than we may perceive. Its tunnel vision, hyper focus, and intense concentration.
Nothing else matters when we are in flow. Not eating, drinking, or even a shower. Anything other than writing gets pushed to the back burner once we are in flow. The trick then is to stay there as long as possible to produce more of our best quality work. The better our work the more value our readers will gain.
There are ways to know you are in flow but that is kind of the issue. Most of the time when you recognize that you are in flow you are now no longer in flow. It's much like the movie Fight Club where "the first rule of Fight Club is nobody talks about Fight Club". Or "The Game" where thinking about "The Game" is how you loose said game.
Sorry for making everyone loose the game but it is the best analogy to use here. So much can knock us out of flow like taking a sip of coffee, looking out the window, or even recognizing that we are in flow. The goal should be to focus as much as possible on the task at hand and nothing else.
Getting into Flow
This eludes most writers. We know pointers that may help us get into flow but are not one hundred percent sure they work. This is expected since for most of our lives we assumed that flow was some made up spiritual deal and not a real mental state.
This is one thing we hear in the writing space as important to get into flow. The same spot each day where we do nothing but write. However, this is more beneficial in building a habit of writing than to get us into the flow state. There is also the chance that the environment is keeping us out of flow.
When the writing environment keeps us from the desired state, we need to change our location. Coffee shops are often said to be a place people go to work or write. Don't keep going there if you cannot stay focused and enter flow. Even if you are the only person an earth that can't work there.
It is better for us to find a spot that helps us focus and does not distract. Any and every distraction can knock you out of flow state. It is bound to happen and most likely happens more often than not. It is better to be in a place people deem strange to write than to get kicked out of flow every ten minutes.
We can not get into this desired state if we unmotivated to even sit down and write. This is why we need to set realistic but hard goals for ourselves. These goals need to be measurable and time sensitive as we talked about in the post How To Set Goals For Enormous Success.
Completing Challenges creates happiness.
Provide rewards for yourself and don't look to society to reward you.
- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Attention is a daily depleting energy just like willpower and will run out as the day goes on. When we set our goals and make them a challenge, we give our work the attention it needs to thrive. Smart goals lead to focused writing and focused writing leads us into the flow state.
This is very hard to do but over time we get used to the effort. Much like lifting weights, the act does not get easier but we get stronger. We must control all urges to look at email, chat with other writers, or get a snack. The more effort we put into focused writing the quicker we can enter flow.
Control instinctual desires.
- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
We must not starve ourselves and force ourselves into flow. If we are hungry, it is ok to eat. However, if we are watching the clock in anticipation for lunch or dinner, then we will not enter the desired state. People forget to eat while in flow but they do not feel hungry. The body pushes aside the desire for food when we practice intense focus.
Getting Back In Flow
So what if we find ourselves out of the flow state? What can we do to get back into the state as fast as possible? One way is to go back over what we talked about above and see what is holding you back.
Here is what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi says in his book:
Two main strategies:
- Force the external conditions to match the desired goal.
- Change how we experience the external conditions.
The first one is straight forward. If we are in a coffee shop and can not enter the flow state, then we get up an go to another place. Be it our home, a park, or some open work space. The second is to change how we are taking in those external forces. If what is blocking you from flow is anger then try to find a silver lining. If it is hunger then go eat and change from hungry to satiated.
Thanks For Reading!
Other Posts In The Series:
Keep Them Pining: Generating Evergreen Content
How To Schedule Your Content
The Most Important Blogging Etiquette You Need To Know
Easily Unlock The Greatest Niche Designed For You
HTML & Markdown: Formatting In The Flow