Writer Confessions: 66 Days of Play - Flow is Real
Writer Confessions: 66 Days of Play, Weeks 7 & 8: Flow is Real
Hi Merworld friends. Weeks 7 & 8 of 66 Days of Play was a period of concentrated time suckery. Which is why I’m now convinced that FLOW and PLAY are one in the same.
Allow me to explain. I went to a dance party as one of my playtime activities and the nice gentleman who was ushering me through a waltz asked why I liked to dance. Without hesitation I answered: because of the time lapse. Because I can dance for hours with the same irrevocable smile on my face without even noticing the night pass me by.
Several days later, I sat down to work on the second book in my Ice Floe novel series and the same thing happened: time lapse. When I’m deeply engaged in writing my novels, hours feel like minutes. I’ll start editing in the wee hours of the morning only to blink and find that the sun is setting in the late afternoon.
To be clear, I’m not talking about zoning out as one might do during a boring work meeting. I’m also not talking about entering a semi-conscious state like when one binge-watches the latest “just ok” TV series. In both of these cases, you exit the time lapse asking: a) what the heck just happened to my day?; and b) how can I get that portion of my life back?
No, my friends, the type of time warp I’m talking about is fantastic. It’s that elusive state of being where the world spins into oblivion except for the object of your attention. A brain space of focused obsession where basic needs for sleep and food seem to disappear. A place where one foot hovers on this earthly plane, while the rest of your mind and body crosses into a place of magic. The time warp I’m talking about is FLOW.
For me, I know I’ve hit a state of FLOW when the following happens:
- Basic body signals take a back seat. Although not a recommended long-term strategy, it’s true. My stomach will be beyond grumbling, on the verge of a full-on revolt, but I can’t be bothered to eat. Or, I should take a bio break and get some steps in but instead push my break time out just another five minutes…multiple times. Or, I climb under the covers at my pre-determined bedtime and then stare at the ceiling for hours, continuing to run scenarios and plotlines and plans in my head.
- Time evaporates. As mentioned earlier, I’ll start on a task and get really immersed. Then, the next glance at the clock informs me it’s hours later. And even though half the day is gone, I can’t imagine stopping. To cut off the surge of ideas and progress would be like stabbing my muse in the heart – and so I continue on. Clock be damned.
You might be thinking, “yeah, I do that, too.” I frequently skip lunch to take meetings at work, and barely get any sleep because I’m always thinking about my to-do list. I login to my computer for my day job at 6am and then turn into a production machine until 7pm when I finally log off. Is that FLOW?
My question in return is, how do you feel about your time at work? It is possible to be in a state of FLOW at your day job and if that’s you – congratulations! You’ve hit the mega load by matching your career to your true interests. Unfortunately, I’ve found that many workers aren’t in a state of FLOW at their day job, they’re more in a state of chaos or “never enough.” There’s never enough time to get all my tasks done so I’ll stay late, skip meals, cancel my dentist appointment again. This isn’t FLOW because the energy around it is negative.
FLOW is a state of high-energy, high-vibe existence. You don’t intentionally skip lunch to cram in more deliverables and meetings; you forget that you’re hungry because you’re floating on clouds. You’re not up at night worrying about tomorrow; you’re up at night because you’re still seizing today. FLOW is effortless. There is no should-do, or have-to, or struggle in FLOW. You simply do the thing because you’re moved to. You can’t imagine not fully embracing this moment of inspiration. You LOVE it.
Which brings me full circle, because the entirety of today’s conversation about FLOW is exactly what we’ve been talking about regarding PLAY over the last several weeks. In fact, our numbered list above closely mimics behaviors we frequently see in little children playing. We tell our kids to come eat dinner and they beg for five more minutes. We monitor how long our toddlers play in snow or cool water because they’ll stay out until their lips turn purple and teeth chatter. We inform children that it’s bedtime and epic meltdowns ensue. Why? Because they’re PLAYing. They are in a state of FLOW.
If you’re not sure whether you’ve yet experienced this state of bliss, don’t worry. Chances are you’ve had at least a glimpse into FLOW. For example, that time you stayed up late working on a personal project only to look at the clock and say, “Crud – I have to be up in three hours.” When you were late to an appointment because you were too engrossed in the task at hand. When you were on a date with a new significant other, and the two of you closed the restaurant down talking. Basically, any time you’ve tapped into a state of joy and lost yourself in it.
If you’re still not sure whether you’ve experienced FLOW, perhaps you need to take a hard look at your allocated playtime. When was the last time you truly did something for fun with no strings attached? If you can’t remember, or it’s far and few between, then perhaps you might reconsider your priorities. When you’re in a state of FLOW, magic happens. The muses strike and people become creators, inventors, and artists.
It’s not just you missing out when you neglect to carve out playtime for yourself. We all miss out on the beauty of what you could add to the world. We miss out on the opera you’ve been singing in your head but have yet to record. The antique car you’ve been meaning to fix up. We miss out on your inventions. Your world-bettering organizations. Your creations. When you don’t play, we miss out on your unique dreams becoming reality in the world.
So get out there and do something fun. Your and my world depend on it!
Until next time, Merworld. You flipping rock!