Flow State

Behind the Vision;

Inside the Artist's Mind Series

Written by Sandy Candy, the artist—not the pornstar.


Flow State

Every creator speaks of it in some capacity. That magical place where time ceases to exist. In this pause all that matters is the doing. Hours melt away, becoming moments of pure bliss. There's just this knowing of what needs to happen next. The mind is quiet and the soul leads.

We call it being in the flow. 

Although most often experienced by artists and musicians, it is not limited to the arts. Those that enjoy extreme sports also describe experiencing flow state. They find it when executing breakneck feats that require one to remain focused. Yet there are many ways that flow is experienced. 

The movie Soul speaks to this. The flow state is illustrated as being in the Zone, a place that exists in the space between the etheric and waking realms. Scientists, engineers, chefs, writers, dancers, performers—you name it—all experience flow. It is a way of being. Flow is a current of energy. And it's all about catching that wave.  

When in flow there's this perpetual motion of ideas. They spill from the mind and onto the page as the creator chases mastery. The pursuit of flow drives the them forward because it is the optimal level of performance. Being in flow allows one to fully concentrate on the task at hand. It's like having a continuous epiphany. You have an idea and everything comes out in order, exactly as you meant it to be. Sounds magical, right? It is.

For all intents and purposes we are going to speak of it from the perspective of an artist going forward. And because the intention of this series is to inform and inspire, we are going to assume that you are creative yourself and wish to explore how to get into the flow.

Well... how does one get into flow state? First you have to start creating. And this can often be the hardest part. There are a few demons that come to interrupt the creative process. Namely artist's block, or the more insidious imposter syndrome. We shall touch on those another time, but the short of it comes down to fear. In future articles we will discuss methods to overcoming the fear associated with creative blocks. Let's assume that you've been able to motivate yourself to do so. After you start, how do you one get into and maintain flow state?

An essential element for the creative flow is the studio. I would argue that the studio is one of the single most important elements of the creative process. This container is uniquely yours. It holds all of the tools required to create the thing that is begging to be given life. A characteristic of mine is that I have all my coloured pencils in jars on my desk arranged chromatically and aligned neatly against the wall. They are sandwiched by ceramic mugs that hold additional tools. Paintbrushes, pencils and pens—all easily within reach. Everything I need, all where it belongs. There is serenity here. For within the chamber magic is crafted. The studio doesn't necessarily have to be a permanent space, either. Your studio becomes an energetic space in which you create. 

There are many people that like to work in cafes and restaurants, myself being one of them. For me it's a sanctuary—a cozy ritual. Piping hot coffee, pastry, headphones playing my particular flavour of music and my sketch book. It doesn't matter which cafe or where in the world I am; these elements have always remained the same. The studio is anything you wish it to be, so long as it meets your needs and you feel comfortable creating in it. That perfect cocktail of environment meets emotional state. 

So you have your tools, your space and you've begun to make art. Now what? Where's this flow state everyone talks about? Honestly, what it really comes down to is perseverance. You must limit or completely remove distractions and keep working until you find your pace. It can take some time because our world is designed to be distracting. It's often why artists and writers have traditionally run away from society, secluded themselves in cabins in the woods and put their nose down until they produce something they feel is worthy for the light of day. 

If you find yourself overwhelmed by distractions take a deep breath and be gentle with yourself. It's not your fault. Set a timer for even 5 or 10 minutes. Then repeat the process. We all experience these frustrations and you're not alone in your struggle. Flow can be fleeting. We grasp at at the intangibility of it, this thing we trouble to attain.

So what is flow state? Perpetual inspired motion. It is the effortless pursuit of passion. But what's that driving force? Purpose. Now... I can't tell you what your purpose is. Only you know that. It will take some experimenting. But when you create your perfect container, limit your distractions and sit in the of your own knowing you will find it. Now, go on and fall in love with your potential, dear creator. Find your flow.