A landscape painter friend asked me yesterday if I’d ever studied the work of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. My friend described how when he goes out into nature to paint, he enters a surreal state of mind in which time has no meaning and the sounds of cars on a nearby highway fade away.
I told him that my idea of a blissful writing session is to put myself into a trance and get into that same state of flow. If you’ve ever been there, you’ll know how amazing it is. The words just tumble out and time stops. I’ve tried to analyze what sets up those conditions by studying Csikszentmihalyi’s book Flow and reflecting on my own experiences.
Find a cue to alert your brain that you’re “going in.” This could be as simple as drinking a particular tea or coffee, playing the same favorite piece of music, or lighting a specific scented candle each time. Invoking these sensory triggers can help you find a way into your writing. If you repetitively do these things when you put your fingers to the keyboard or pen to paper, you can wire your brain to associate the two and prime your conscious and subconscious mind into a state of flow.