It’s interesting to observe how a concept comes at me from all different directions.
The word “flow” has been in my consciousness this past week. A chance comment from someone; a mention by a coaching client during a call; a random email. It prompted me to pull the book, Finding Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, off my bookshelf and start thumbing through it. The next thing I know my favorite comic strip, "Rhymes with Orange", mentions flow as well as Csikszentmihalyi! Check out the strip here. I hope it makes you snort with laughter. Or maybe a chuckle You’ll definitely smile.
So, okay, okay. I wanted to write another post about flow anyway. I don’t need more whacks on the head!
I’m thinking and writing about flow because I want more of it. I want to find that entry point into flow. Flow in writing, flow in business, flow in playing, flow in movement. A place to lose myself on one level while expanding and moving forward on another.
Doesn’t that sound delightful?
We look for flow as we plan the space in our home. We lose ourselves in the flow of conversation. Coffee, tea, wine can flow (which certainly affects the conversation!) Music flows, washing over you. The moon and the tides ebb and flow. Life ebbs and flows.
If we really pay attention we can know where we are in the cycle and relax into it.
But is it something we can call up at will? Can I place an order for flow as I sit here typing?
I believe so.
First, notice when you’re not in flow. How does that look for you? For me it’s a subtle loss of concentration that leads to activities that have nothing to do with what I’ve set out to do. You know, email…internet…Facebook…the dreaded siren song of a game of solitaire. Definitely not in flow; more like snagged on a branch by the side of the river.
What do I do? I take a break. Just like a child’s pose in yoga, we often need to pause before continuing. To continue the river metaphor have you ever noticed a river slowing down over some rocks before coming to a drop and rushing forward?
Take a break.
If you are in flow – and you notice – go with it. Let IT take you. Sometimes that can feel uncomfortable because at that point you realize you're not driving. Your creativity has taken over. See if you can let it take you where it will. Let each move or step or word determine the next. Yes, it’s a little like working blind but it’s also quite magic. Engage your curiosity and see where you go.
But can I really call it up at will?
I do believe you can. I believe it’s a process of allowing. Surrendering. Making it fun. Being an improv artist at whatever you’re doing.
Jazz musician Kenny Barrett describes improvisation in jazz as “A daunting art of spontaneous creation...It’s like instant composition. Creating problems for yourself and then having to solve them, grabbing a handful of notes out of thin air and making something of it.”
That’s flow! Forward movement, trusting the process. All those terms and phrases that just mean being in the moment and curious and open.
I’m sure you’ve experienced flow at some point of your life. Hopefully, often. What did it feel like? Do you remember how you got there, what led you to that sweet spot? How might you get there again?
Please leave a comment and share what works for you!
I want to write but I just don’t know where to start.
Yeah, I’ve heard that one a lot. In fact, I heard it from me first.
Writing a blog, or an essay, a web page, an article – these things begin with a purpose. This is not to minimize the effort that goes into this work. But having a topic, a destination, a slot waiting for the finished product makes it just the tiniest bit easier to get started.
When you want to start writing just for the sake of writing, to explore your voice, to explore the wonder and craft of the written word, well, that feels quite different. You may think you need to know what you’ll write about before you start. There may be a very utilitarian part of you that demands to know what you’ll do with the piece of writing. You may have strong feelings about whether it will be prose or poetry or memoir. Your inner critic jumps into high gear and lets loose volumes of reasons why you can’t possibly do this. Oh, my dear one, you’re not really a writer, he whispers. (He’s often very chummy. Don’t get fooled!)
After all, what will you do? Just pull words out of the air?
Well, yes. In a way that’s what you’ll do if you want to write but don’t know where to start.
Here are a few things to remember when you are starting to write:
If you want to be a writer, write.
If you’re a writer you know that sometimes it’s a drag to get your butt into the chair and sit down and write. Especially by yourself.
It’s so easy to get sidetracked. Because the blank page is daunting. It would be fun to think of some ways to make it less so. I could do that now but that would be another track to the side.
There is a solution. And it’s a powerful one.
A writers’ circle.
There’s power in + one. A circle of committed writers who benefit from an appointment to get to their practice. A circle of writers who understand what each is going through, who will gladly hold the space and contribute their energy so everyone gets to do what they love, what they are called to do. A circle that offers support and encouragement along the way.
As a member of a writers’ circle you get to experience this power as you:
The point is that I schedule it because sometimes it’s just too easy to get sidetracked. And writing in the company of other writers? Well, that’s just the best!
Power up your writing time with a Writers’ Circle at The Purple Ink Cafe. It’s the solution to getting sidetracked, to avoiding, procrastinating or feeling overwhelmed.
All you have to do is show up!
For more information and to register for a current circle click here.
What do you consider your number one core motivator? Each time I’ve been asked freedom is first on my list.
While I certainly appreciate the freedoms we enjoy from all the wonderful work of our forefathers, the freedom that comes up for me, that drives me, is a deeper freedom. It’s the unleashing of my creativity. The freedom to explore and discover my unique voice wherever that shows up – in my home, on a scrap of watercolor paper, my career and relationships. And with that freedom comes an obligation to be true to that voice.
Because the world needs our true voices. It is parched and craves the nourishment that our beautiful and unique selves provide.
One of the most powerful places to exercise that freedom is through writing. Writing clarifies and articulates that freedom. It is a vehicle of discovery and growth, an outlet for emotion and imagination. It expands it and celebrates our inner freedom. And, in a safe and nurturing space, it is magic.
When I took that leap and joined a writing group I experienced that magical freedom. My life began to shift. It was a gradual unfolding; a knowing that my truest and unique self was okay. Writing gave me the bravery to, as Thoreau said, “advance confidently in the direction” of my dreams. It taught me to trust the creative process and to lose the rigid attachment to an end result. I learned to enjoy the meandering beginnings in my writing knowing that I could invite in the left brain to finish up. (Also, to learn that that philosophy works everywhere in my life, even to planning dinner!)
All that from writing. That is freedom!
And I want that freedom for you! This is why I create space for writers to gather in a safe circle. This is why I gather writers and other creative souls to do the most meaningful work we will ever do – to exercise the freedom to joyfully be who they are.
Join me in a Writers’ Circle at The Purple Ink Cafe. Click here to read more about it and to register for the current circle.
Exercise your inalienable right to let your voice ring out. The world is waiting to hear from you!
What We Ache For by Oriah Mountain Dreamer
I love the beautiful language in this book that explores the “necessity and urgency” of creativity in our lives.
Writing Alone and With Others – Pat Schneider
This book is the basis for the Amherst Writers and Artists writing workshop model (which is what I use in my workshops). In it Pat Schneider addresses the challenges the writer faces when beginning (sometimes over and over) and suggests ways to keep going. The book is full of prompts and exercises to keep us writers engaged and motivated.
The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell
Following Sun Tzu’s example, this book covers the mental game of writing (reconnaissance), craft (tactics) and advice on the publishing world (strategy). Lots of good stuff.
Do the Work – Steven Pressfield
Resistance can (and probably will)show up at some point in any creative endeavor. Pressfield normalizes and helps you get around, over, thorough it. Easy, quick and entertaining reading
Writing on Both Sides of The Brain by Henriette Anne Klauser
Ultimately, writing involves both the left and right hemisphere of our brain and Klauser helps the writer travel easily between the two. I love her style.
Poem Crazy by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge
To me, writing is about filling up on words and images and impressions, seeing with different eyes. Wooldridge talks about gathering words and playing with language and brings that way of thinking into everyday life. There’s a poet inside everyone!
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
This is on everyone’s list for a reason. It’s a classic and required reading for anyone who wants to live life in creative space.
Stein on Writing by Sol Stein
Tons of great advice on craft for both fiction and non-fiction writers.
And a bonus favorite:
The American Heritage College English Dictionary (or any good dictionary and thesaurus)
Yes, I’m a word nerd. I love a big heavy dictionary with its thin pages and can get lost in it. Whether it’s online or in hand a good dictionary and thesaurus belongs in a writer’s toolbox.
What are your favorite books for getting your creativity going?
Kathy Kane blogs about the creative process in the everyday, in writing and in the magical transition to the second half of life.
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