Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Got Flow?

“Would you just check the flow?” We probably hear this request more than any other in our writing center. Do writers really know what “flow” means? Do I? I’ve always translated it as transparent logical connections that lead readers along and make the writing hang together as if sown through with a thread. But these days I’m wondering if the psychological term “flow” shouldn’t also be part of my consideration.

Even though I read Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi’s book _Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience_ about three years ago, I hadn’t till recently connected the writing term with the psychological one. For those unfamiliar, Csikzentmihalyi defines “flow” as the unconscious state of mind in which an individual’s talents are in perfect balance with the demands of the task being performed. If the task is too complex? Frustration. Too easy? Boredom. Sports players are said to be “in the zone” when they achieve flow. Artists find themselves at peak creativity. Chess players achieve focused absorption. Rock climbers are one with the mountain. In flow, time is not fungible nor is it truly epochal. Flow suspends time in pure, effortless enjoyment.

Although humans can achieve flow in a limitless variety of tasks including learning and work, I’m aware that, as much as I enjoy my work, I’m often too stressed to flow. I’m much more likely to flow while I play (especially with a kite), but, even in play, I can easily become consumed with my own performance. And sadly, I seldom achieve flow when I write (hence my venture into play/writing). I doubt I’m unique - I’ll bet most writers who visit the writing center don’t flow either. But when I conference with writers who need flow (both kinds!), I’m content to interpret the word in textual terms. Why?

How do you cultivate flow - in yourself and your students?

Floberta Kjesrud

5 Comments:

At 7:17 AM, Blogger Tamara Miles said...

Check out "Flow" (the band) and the mp3 download of their song "Being in the Flow." Also, tne song "I Don't Want to Wait" caught my ear because it starts with "Maybe if I write it down, it will all make sense."

http://www.f-l-o-w.com/home.html

 
At 7:25 AM, Blogger Tamara Miles said...

lyrics to "Being In The Flow" (by the band "Flow")

Sometimes things are just around the corner,
Sometimes things are in the road behind.
Sometimes you get lucky,
And sometimes you get lost
And you find the thing that you're really meant to find.

Call it intuition,
Call it blind ambition,
Call it what you will.
Divine intervention,
Or just a bunch of bullshit,
Maybe too much time to kill.


But if you feel sensations
Of positive vibrations
Coming from inside of you
Until you start to glow
Its called "Being in the flow."
Moving with the tide.
Watching out for big surprises along the ride.
When the universe is on your side
Things like this are gonna happen all the time.


Sometimes you may wonder where you're going.
Sometimes you may wonder where you've been.
Well you can't predict the future,
And you can't re-live the past,
So just be there in the moment that you're in.


Call it existential, simple, sentimental,
So much bad advice.
Politically correct,
Metaphysically erect,
Hey...something like that might be nice.


But if you feel sensations
Of positive vibrations
Coming from inside of you
Until you start to grow,
Its called "Being in the flow"
Moving with the tide
Watching out for big surprises along the ride
When the universe is on your side
Things like this are gonna happen all the time.


Sometimes everything looks so familiar
But it sometimes looks like everything has changed.
Some strangers on the street,
They sometimes think that you're their brother.
Some other strangers only think you're strange.


Call it deja-vu.
Call it deja-deja-vu.
You can call it vu-ja-de.
Call us "masters of the zen",
Call us "stupid monkey-men",
It doesn't matter anyway.


'Cause when you've got sensations
Of positive vibrations
Coming from inside of you
Well, then you'll start to know
What it's like "Being in the flow"
Moving with the tide,
Watching out for big surprises along the ride
When the universe is on your side
Things like this are gonna happen all the time.

 
At 11:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, my name is Gabriela, I was just able to explain a friend of mine the term "get flow" thanks to your wonderful post. Thank you very much!

 
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