“The undercurrent of creativity flows steadily, and sometimes it is still. Working with these forces can complement our goals as writers, and help us to avoid wasting time.”
– Jason Youngman
(Click on the the media player to listen to the podcast as you read the transcript below. In the event that you are unable to access the audio please be courteous and let me know.)
The technique to be discussed in this episode is probably the most transformative exercise of the season. It consists of locating the top emotional states that are conducive to being the best version of you. So if one of your major objectives in life is to be an excellent writer, then you’re going to want to cultivate emotional states of mind that are instrumental to attaining results.
For instance some writers will listen to music in order to put themselves in the right frame of mind for generating ideas. Now should you ask them what this state of mind is like, chances are they are going to provide words that are emotionally charged, such as enthused, tranquil or engaged. Now many of us know that music is not the only means to prepare us for such emotional states of mind. Some people will go for an invigorating walk, meditate, or do yoga in order to get into the groove for writing.
The main thing at this point is to figure out which emotions help you remain in your writing flow. Try to locate the emotional states of mind that are useful for being productive as a writer. List at least 5 emotions but go for more if you can. Here’s 60 seconds of reflection time to jot down your answers on paper.
What did you make of the elevator music? That was me singing with my acoustic guitar. Can you guess the emotional state that I was experiencing during that recording? Aha, you got it, that’s the key to opening the door to creativity. E – M-o-t-i-o-n. Emotion. E represents eternity and motion represents the movement that flows from eternity. Sounds rather poetic doesn’t it? And yet, behind every act of excellence there is a beating heart, a desire to turn towards what is naturally good, complete or in perfect harmony.
How about yourself? What emotions did you come up with? As for myself I am inclined to say that ‘flow’ is the ideal state for creativity. This generally means getting completely absorbed in an activity, as in heart and soul with concentrated focus. However the emotions that resonate with flow seem to fluctuate. For example, when the flow is fast then we may experience excitement and invigoration. But when it’s calm or slow then we know tranquility and peace of mind.
Depending on the velocity or intensity of the flow we may have to gauge our actions. So for instance if you experience tranquility, this may be a good time to reflect on what you need to let go of so as to clarify and improve your writing project; whereas when you are experiencing the strong currents of flow, it may be a good time to write as fast as possible with little consideration to grammar or syntax.
There is a ton of stuff written on the concept of flow so we don’t need to elaborate on it here. The main thing is to be mindful of the particular emotions you experience while you are fully engaged in the writing process. Ideally we want to exercise a way to get into the creative mode, sustain it, and produce results.
Being able to recall such emotional states of mind is conducive to entering into the flow, but it’s not sufficient in and of itself. It is also helpful to get our bodies into gear. That is why some writer’s go for a stroll or practice yoga in order to enter into their writing space. In fact some of us come up with our best ideas while dancing.
Imagine your body as a receptor for the muses. If it’s tight and rigid, then it’s going to be closed off to its influence. But when it’s nimble, relaxed and flexible, we are effortlessly in-tuned to whatever unconscious stimulus that might emerge. To be fully engaged in an activity, to embody that practice, every part of us has to be involved in the process, not just our brains.
In the next talk it may be prudent to discuss what might need to be removed from our writing space in order to maintain a balance between our creations and our ability to produce such creations. The principle behind this lesson is to avoid burning the candle from both ends. This is Jason Youngman, your host of Creative Writing Tips, until next time, happy writing.