If you’ve ever engaged in creative pursuits, you understand that sometimes you’re on, sometimes you’re off. For whatever reason, the Muse may grant favor one day and creativity feels effortless. The next day, she may give you the cold shoulder, and you’re just – stuck. This is the nature of creative Flow.
What is Flow?
Flow is when the creativity faucet in your brain has been opened. Much like the rush of running water, Flow is the current of your creative thoughts. It is this motion of creative focus that facilitates our best ideas and inspiration. Some people refer to this mental state as “being on” or “finding your mojo”.
It is hard to comprehend the true value of Flow without experiencing it. It’s almost like a sixth sense- intangible until you are in the midst of it. Once you find your Flow and enter into it, creativity and imagination will be greatly enhanced. The basis for creativity is linking seemingly unrelated concepts and thoughts. In the flow, you will begin to make abstract connections between ideas much quicker and many inhibitions will be lowered. Working within a “Flow” state will result in a feeling of freedom as possibilities for creative problem-solving become abundant.
Entering the Flow
So exactly how might one enter this creative Flow? We have no idea. If you figure it out, will you let us know?
There may be times when it will feel like your Muse has bequeathed magic upon you, inspiring your creative output. But we believe that Flow is more physiological than magical (although no one here is denying the possibility of magic). Let’s just not assume this is how it has to work. If it did, then our whole “Creativity is for Everyone” mantra would be hard to swallow for those untouched by the “magic.”
Essentially, we need to give our brains space and freedom to wander, daydream, and use our imaginations. As adults, we have so much structure and little free time. The conventions of society have programmed us to deny and shut off our creativity. Entering Flow means limiting typical restrictions such as time, expectation, and practicality so that we can allow creativity to do its work. Like a torrent when floodgates are opened, creativity is most powerful when it can be free and untamed. Of course, we have limited resources of time and energy, but if we prioritize space in our schedules and our minds for creativity, we will begin to reap the benefits of Flow.
There are also exercises (here at MossyBrain we have an activity we like to call a FlowJam) we can use to keep our brain on its proverbial toes; brain puzzles, write new lyrics to familiar songs, draw something without lifting your pen, learn a new instrument, go somewhere you’ve never been, write a haiku, freestyle rap! These are just a few of a plethora of ideas that get our brains to shut down filters and free associate. Any kind of new activity can push us out of “normal thought patterns” and boost our creativity.
This is not a formula for creative success, but an awareness of what benefits our brains and facilitates creative thinking.
Maintaining the Flow
Experiencing this magical state of uninhibited mojo can definitely leave you wanting more. Once you experience creative Flow, the natural next question is probably “How can I return to a state of Flow when needed?”
The simple answer is to be intentional and to set yourself up for success. But the practice of doing so is far from simple. Resistance to creativity takes many insidious forms- some obvious, some subtle. Don’t let yourself become complacent in your life so that creativity and Flow become a distant memory. Continually break down the barriers and inhibitions that keep your Flow reduced to a trickle.
Disrupt your routine unexpectedly- take a walk, meditate, take a long shower, enjoy nature. Activities that don’t require mental noise, that allow you to clear your mind, will boost your creativity. These simple disruptions could be the catalyst needed to burst through the dam holding your Flow back. Also, utilize the FlowJam activities when you want a creative breakthrough. Just a few dedicated minutes can have great impact. Do WHATEVER IT TAKES and do it with intention. Your creative mojo is worth it!
Happy, Healthy FLOW
Life can take it out of us. Responsibilities, relationships, even activities we use to unwind (or numb, if we’re being honest) can fill up every inch of our lives. But don’t just shrug and continue with the status quo! We want to encourage you to invest in yourself and your creativity. Make some free space to find your creative Flow; you won’t regret it!
As always, we here at MossyBrain are your biggest cheerleaders! Listen to the podcast for our FlowJam exercise near the beginning of each show, and check out our FlowJam article for some more ideas. Happy Creating!