The Flow State Improves Your Writing Ability and Performance
In this article you will learn the following about flow state:
- A definition and the significance it has in your blogging community.
- Examples of the flow state in action and how to make it happen.
- Specific steps to take in order to locate the flow state in your writing, benefiting you and your readers.
I first found writing flow in college
I found the flow state in writing as a college freshman. My history professor hit me with a 12 page research report on a subject of my choice, and I panicked. I had never written anything so long. In high school, I either found a creative way to avoid research projects, or trudged through small papers mindlessly. Writing was my enemy as a freshman at the University of Idaho.
The experience transformed me as a writer and student because my instructor empowered me with the freedom choose my topic and approach. I picked the origins of the King Arthur legends, quickly becoming immersed in the details of the story, the history, the fiction, and the writing process. As I passed small hurdles, like figuring out how to find a book, I felt proud.
The project became my own and not the teacher’s assignment. I found a love for research, reading, and writing. I breathed Arthurian legend. The instructor marked the paper a 97%, but that was not important. I was happy. My life had changed, and I loved to learn.
I had discovered my passion in “learning flow.”
Positive psychology describes the flow state in learning, working, and blogging
Have you ever experienced working on a difficult problem that seemed impossible? How did you respond? Sometimes you engage a problem that challenges your skills and knowledge and that motivates you to work regardless of any prize or award you might win. You obsess over the problem, knowing that you can resolve with your talents. But, the problem is tough, and you immerse yourself in the task, the work and learning becoming an enjoyable challenge. This is a state of flow, which The Handbook of Psychology describes as:
engaging just-manageable challenges by tackling a series of goals, continuously processing feedback about progress, and adjusting action based on this feedback. Under these conditions, experience seamlessly unfolds from moment to moment and one enters a subjective state.
Flow is part of the positive psychology movement and helps in all aspects of life. When the conditions are right, you enter a zone where you think and feel different. You become mindful and present, at one with your work. You find working enjoyable, just as I did with my King Arthur paper. You feel:
- Mindfulness, with heightened concentration in the present moment on the specific, challenging task at hand.
- Happy when you complete small goals that build up to the grand task.
- A meshing actions and focus seamlessly.
- Unaware of your surroundings and your role as a worker within a community.
- A sense of control over your environments, thoughts, feelings and actions because you believe that your knowledge and skills will eventually help you reach the end goal.
- A disruption of time – time seems to speed up, slow down, or cease to exist.
- No concern about failing because the work is an end by itself.
- Pride and reward in the action and work alone, without any other prize than the process and the solution.
The task and labor are satisfying and even exhilarating. You test out your capabilities and find that you are competent, even though you had to stretch to reach your goal. You prove to yourself that you are worthy, and this boosts your self esteem and competence. You are lost in the cause and forget all distractions.
Consider your blog. Does this describe the way you feel about it? Does it portray your reader’s experience as they process your posts? If not, making the necessary changes will increase the happiness of in your online community. Perhaps the most difficult part of creating writing flow is finding the required level of difficulty in writing and reading your blog.
In a state of flow you find a balance between too difficult and too easy
Not just any task will do. The project must fit your skills and knowledge. If writing a whole book is too difficult for your language abilities, you will feel anxiety, but if writing a small, personal blog post is too easy, you will become bored. So, the writing project has to be a perfect fit, matching your abilities, but pushing you a little further. The push is gratifying rather than discouraging and is essential to flow.
Either you, a mentor, or a teacher must design the project so that it meets this criteria, or you will miss the zone in the image above. Analyze your writing abilities and determine how much you can push yourself. This self-knowledge requires thinking and analysis, and the project needs careful planning.
The payoff comes in many forms of success including deep learning. You learn more efficiently and the skills last longer. Your mental state of flow makes learning enjoyable.
In the flow state, you find happiness and fulfillment for you and your blog readers
Although you might think that a leisurely lifestyle will make you happy, you are wrong. Research in positive psychology has shown that:
The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times… The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. –Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Hard work rather than lounging makes you happy Take a moment to see Csikszentmihalyi elaborate on how flow generates happiness in his fascinating Ted Talk:
Specific steps to help find the flow state for you and your reader
Initially, the flow state may seem illusive or impossible, but you can take specific actions to make your blog a space where writer and reader enter the flow state. You have to know yourself and your audience well in order to fine tune your blog on a psychological level. Your purpose is to push yourself and your reader a little beyond present capacity.
Try taking these actions to work the flow state into your blog. Feel free to use this resource, and please provide a link back to trunk.ly
With practice you will enter the state of flow often, but it’s something that you always have to think about. It usually does not happen on its own, but is carefully crafted. Good luck as you work towards the flow state.
Could you share with us an experience that you have had with the flow state? What techniques help you enter the zone? I’d love to hear your comments and I will reply promptly.