Getting Into A Creative Flow
“Creativity isn’t a skill, it’s a state of mind”
– Jim Kwik
Does anyone else get writers block, but with photography? I get it all the time – it’s pretty frustrating.
Sometimes I’ll sit down to edit a photo, but I just can’t seem to get the colours right. Or I’ll go out to shoot, but I just can’t seem to think of a creative angle. Or I won’t be motivated to go shoot, because I can’t think of anywhere to go. Of course, there’s always plenty of ways to edit a photo or shoot a landscape – the problem is that little hurdle in my mind that just makes me feel stuck.
When I was trying to figure out a way to get over this hurdle, I found a podcast called Kwik Brain, hosted by Jim Kwik. In episode 48, he talks to Steven Kotler about what creativity is and how we can harness it. Kotler described creativity as a state of flow that occurs when you’re in ‘The Zone.’ To get into that zone, your brain has to go through a process and be prepared, ready for the creativity to pour through.
Creativity requires the brain to make connections between far-flung neurons. If you’re stressed, that connection becomes a lot more difficult – so when you’re feeling like crap, or you’re tired, or you’re strung out, it can feel like your creativity (and productivity) is completely out of reach.
Here’s the process!
Step 1: Information Overload Overload your brain by consuming as much relevant info as you can. Immerse yourself in other people’s creativity – think YouTube videos, Instagram, photography tutorials, books, articles etc. Make sure they’re relevant to what you want to create – like a tutorials with an editing style you want to create, photographs that inspire you, vlogs that you want to emulate.
Step 2: Relax Take a break from critical thinking. Go for a walk, swim, cook – whatever lets your brain chill out and cool down for a bit.
Step 3: Flow Come back to your work. Your brain should not be prepped to get into that flow so take a deep breath and settle in. Pull up your work. Try your best to stay focused – shut down social media and put your phone away if that helps. Note: If you stop just before you think you’ve reached your limit you’ll have the positive emotions. If you keep pushing until you reach your limit or beyond, then you’ll feel it and your brain won’t be wanting to put you through that again. Take care of yourself and you will be more capable, more productive and more creative.
Step 4: Recover Your body puts a ton of mental energy into flow. Don’t forget to let it recover. Drink water, eat, meditate, get some fresh air, stretch: whatever your body needs to do.
An interesting video essay video The Nerdwriter did on the subject of the flow