Richard Diebenkorn, Untitled, 1943
I spend much of my time trying to create, maintain and protect flow states. People often conceive of them as something that “just happens,” but in my experience that isn’t true—your routines and your expectations hugely affect your ability to enter and remain in flow states.
Take writing. I used to only write a few times a year, when inspiration struck. I would be processing something intense when a sentence would pop into my head. I’d pull on the thread and follow it. Afterwards, I’d think, man, I’d really like to write more. But whenever I tried I’d just sit there for a bit, my mind completely blank, and give up.
These days, I write daily. I definitely don’t feel “in flow” every time I write, but I have much more control over inducing flow, because I’ve just practiced more. I’m used to expressing myself through writing, and I’m often subconsciously noodling over something I could write down. That means that it’s easier for me to concentrate, and easier to massage something into existence.
But the experience of flow isn’t limited to writing alone. I find that it very much applies for running, for yoga, for relationships. And the experience depends a lot on your compatibility with the thing itself. I read a lot mostly because I’ve always found it extremely easy to enter a flow state whenever I read. I’m instantly submerged. Writing is much harder, and so are most other things—there are few things that automatically feel flowy all the time. But you probably have more ability to create flow than you give yourself credit for.