You are capable of unleashing massive waves of creativity. Each time you put ink to paper you are initiating a connection between your mind and the outside world.
You’ve probably noticed that the innumerable thoughts, designs, feelings, and impressions of which your mind is capable of creating are at times more resistant than you’d wish. As a creative you know that your best ideas can’t be pushed or forced, they travel seamlessly and naturally onto your blank canvas. The psychological term for this smooth, barrier-free state of mind is called flow. As a designer, you need it. As a writer, you thrive on it. At Denik, we’re passionate about it.
Understanding how to create and sustain flow is key to unlocking creativity.
You’ve been in flow before, more frequently than you might realize, although you may not have known that it had a name. Think of a time where you’ve been completely absorbed and caught up in a creative activity, a time where everything else around you seemed to fade away. This relaxed, yet focused state of mind is the beginning stage of flow.
During flow your concentration and focus is so great that you begin to lose awareness of the self. You’ll notice that your perception also changes. After a flow period, you might check the time and be surprised at how slowly or quickly time has really passed. During this period of time, sometimes referred to as “being in the zone”, your mind is flooded with inspiration, words and ideas are connected with ease, and your actions quicken as you become more passionate about what you are creating.
Contrast this with the devastating and very relatable story of what happened to CEO and Author Tony Schwartz who was hopelessly sucked into the world of distraction, the enemy of creativity. Tony recounted that instead of getting into the zone he would find himself wasting valuable hours checking traffic numbers from his company website, shopping for colorful socks on Gilt and Rue La La, and even clicking through pictures with irresistible headlines such as “Awkward Child Stars Who Grew Up to Be Attractive.”
Don’t you dare let yourself click on those irresistible headlines while you are trying to enter flow. Save the “Check out this video of melting butter, you’ll never guess what happens next!” links for your lunch break. Also, don’t worry, Tony Schwartz has fully recovered and is a master at creating distraction-free time to focus.
How Flow Unlocks Creative Potential
Being in flow produces several advantages that will boost your creative ability. These characteristics include:
Increased clarity of mind.
Complete concentration on the present activity.
Increased awareness for your work.
Increased feelings of serenity.
Losing awareness of oneself or self-consciousness.
Increased sense of control.
Lack of awareness of physical needs.
- Activities become intrinsically rewarding.
Creating And Sustaining Flow
Creating an environment where your mind can easily enter flow is essential. Flow’s greatest adversary is distraction. Other than simply slowing down your productivity, little distractions even once every 5 or 10 minutes can sidetrack your mind from entering flow. Without fully entering flow your creativity, talent, and the overall satisfaction you feel while creating art will significantly decrease.
Here are some tips to help you create and sustain flow as you work:
Schedule a period of time to enter flow. Remember, it can take as long as 15 minutes to enter a Flow state.
Don’t accept interruptions from anyone. Let others know that this is your time to create, and you need to be left undisturbed.
If inspiration isn’t coming, grab a blank sketchbook and start doodling. It might take just a few minutes to get the creative juices flowing.
Turn off distractions such as email, messages, and social media before you begin to enter Flow.
Silence your phone and remove it from your sight.
Slap on a pair of headphones and play lyric-less music.
Once you enter flow, stay in it as long as you possibly can.
Be aware of how much you can achieve in 30 minutes of uninterrupted flow compared to 30 minutes of normal time.
Don’t multitask. Concentrate on the task at hand until you are finished.
Be aware of how content you feel once you are in flow.
Allowing yourself to enter flow requires discipline, but it will pay off as you create an environment where your mind accepts inspiration and where your imagination is free to run wild. By being aware of the flow state-of-mind you are already off to a great start.
Now go out there and enter flow. Post what you create while in your flow state with the hashtag #denikflow. And remember, never let your mind stop you from having a good time.