I write novels about characters with large lives in big situations. Through them, I am brave, and glamorous and I have second chances at life.
In my own life, I am none of these things. Instead I’m working on living a ‘bigger, smaller life.’
Recently I heard Neil Finn talk about his creative process and while many things he said resonated with me, there was one point in particular that made sense. It was his belief that to be creative you must rid yourself of the ‘stuff ‘ in your life.
Pair down, clean out and live simply. The less you have to distract you, the more you can let the ideas in, and commit to the flowstate.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is a Hungarian psychologist, who is considered the architect of the notion of the flowstate.
He described flow as, ‘being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.’
It is impossible to get into the flow when you are surrounded by stuff. Too many distractions, too many objects in your house, and too many responsibilities block the flow. I found this quote about writing that I understand completely.
Writing novels is hard, and requires vast, unbroken slabs of time. Four quiet hours is a resource that I can put to good use. Two slabs of time, each two hours long, might add up to the same four hours, but are not nearly as productive as an unbroken four. If I know that I am going to be interrupted, I can’t concentrate, and if I suspect that I might be interrupted, I can’t do anything at all. Likewise, several consecutive days with four-hour time-slabs in them give me a stretch of time in which I can write a decent book chapter, but the same number of hours spread out across a few weeks, with interruptions in between them, are nearly useless. – Neal Stephenson
Pare down my fellow creatives. If you’re an artist of any form, medium or style, find your flowstate. Find your blocks of time. Find yourself.