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storysinger
(@storysinger)
Gold Member
Posts: 880

After reading about the Flow State I know the name of the place I frequent.
All ten points help find a way to experience a level of nirvana.
Cultivating the ability to zone into what you are attempting so intensely nothing else is important.
I've written over 100 song's and the best are the ones that flowed from my pen with very little thought.
My goal now is to transfer that ability to writing, hard work will provide the means of making that happen.

Today's science fiction is tomorrow's reality-D.R.Sweeney
HM-V32/Q3
HM-V36/Q4
HM-V38/Q1

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Posted : May 21, 2020 7:36 am
RETreasure
(@rschibler)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 743

1) what flow state is, 2) what triggers can help activate it, 3) what can steal it from us, 4) and how you plan to personally enhance your working environment and mental state to usher in more flow state writing.

1) Flow state is our zen state where we become one with the project/activity in front of us and lose track of time and environment and everything but the task before us.

2) To achieve flow state, we must focus for at least fifteen minutes. More, the activity needs to be somewhat challenging or stimulating in some way. I'm never going to achieve flow state playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on the violin. I lose track of time when I'm working on a complicated piece by Handel, though. Similar with our writing, I think, in order to achieve that state we need to be digging deep--whether emotionally or intellectually.

3) Kids, noise, kids, Facebook, kids, husbands and wives, phone calls, kids, a chaotic environment, kids.

4) I really struggled with my writing when this whole thing started with the pandemic. I had gotten really consistent in my writing, writing at the same time in the same place every day. I'd produce between 1k and 3k words consistently. Then my entire world and schedule and routine changed, and I barely wrote for most of March and April. I've been strict with myself over the last week, writing every day even if I think the words are trash, and asking my husband and kids to leave me alone for at least an hour so I can get my work done. Today I wrote 3100 words on my new novel in two hours, and it felt like fifteen minutes to me. For me, anyway, consistency and a quiet environment are the keys. I don't have to be in the same room of the house, or write at the same time, but I do need to do it nearly every day, and I need to have an uninterrupted and quiet time to focus on the words on the screen. Wulf talked about his kettle o' tea, I have another friend who can only write at night. The point is, do what works for you.

V34: R,HM,R
V35: HM,R,R,HM
V36: R,HM,HM,SHM
V37: HM,SF,SHM,SHM
V38: F, SHM, P, P
Available for critiques - PM for availability.
www.rebeccaetreasure.com

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Posted : May 21, 2020 7:57 am
AjZach
(@ajzach)
Bronze Member
Posts: 96

1) what flow state is, 2) what triggers can help activate it, 3) what can steal it from us, 4) and how you plan to personally enhance your working environment and mental state to usher in more flow state writing.

1) Flow state is you working under optimal conditions. You are happy, feeling good and can devote your full attention to your task. The task should seem easy, and the time flies by while you are busy working.

2) To activate it, you need to find your routine that works for your body. The right time of day, the right amount of caffine, and water to keep your body happy. You need to spend 1-15 minutes to get into this state, and choose the right task. It needs to be the right challenge level and the right length, so you are not overwhelmed or bored. This could be like: I am going to go through pages 1-10 and check for these five things in my writing. Breaking the work down into manageable pieces.

3) Getting into the flow can help you ignore distractions. Internal and External. You can work for a long time before noticing you really should eat something.

4) Getting into the flow is something I have been trying to work on. I have the tea ritual, routine is huge for me, to get my brain in the "we're writing now" mode. I also have been using a prompt book "642 Things To Write About" by the San Francisco Writer's Grotto, to just get my brain over beginning to write. I write on one of those prompts for a few minutes, because it doesn't matter if the outcome is good. I find that if I'm struggling it is usually best to take a walk and think on the problem, or even give it a few minutes before I go to sleep, although I can't leave a notebook on my nightstand or the cat will eat it to get me up in the morning. But really, I just need to get a cup of tea and my butt in the chair, and the routine and promises that I made to myself to write, good day or bad, take over and get the work done.

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Posted : May 21, 2020 9:21 am
CCrawford
(@ccrawford)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 225

4) I really struggled with my writing when this whole thing started with the pandemic. I had gotten really consistent in my writing, writing at the same time in the same place every day. I'd produce between 1k and 3k words consistently. Then my entire world and schedule and routine changed, and I barely wrote for most of March and April.

Meeee too, Becky, except I'm still struggling to get back on track. I had a great writing routine before I got pregnant last year, and then it got kinda off during the end of the pregnancy and the newborn stage, but I was still managing to write. But since the pandemic hit, I've really been struggling to write at all. Lately, my brain has just NOT been focusing even when I try. I used to hit flow state regularly and get out thousands of words in what felt like hardly any time, and now I will try and try and even just getting out 100 words feels like the biggest effort, even if I have time to work on it.

But now I have a term for that. "Attention Residue."

So, my response on the article:

Flow state is a state of mind where you are super productive, but it also feels great. The article said that it takes 10-15 minutes (minimum) uninterrupted focus to achieve flow state, and that every time you're interrupted it can take 25 minutes to refocus because the "residue" of what you were previously focused on remains. Now that my baby is six months and past the sleep-a-lot stage, between him and my three other kids plus just general life rhythms (like making meals, etc.), I am interrupted *constantly* (seriously, it's like every few minutes most days). I've been getting frustrated with myself for not being able to use the time I do have to write -- I'll finally carve out thirty minutes and then just stare at the screen like a zombie -- and now I am realizing why. I think part of it is that my mental bandwidth is partially taxed and spent by just the general state of stress right now, but the rest is this "attention residue." I used to write during the kids' naps or quiet times, or when they went to bed, but right now, everyone's schedule is off and they don't fall asleep until way later than usual and there's really no set time of the day where I get true quiet to focus. Every time I've nearly hit flow, I've been interrupted, and then what little time I have left uninterrupted just isn't enough to get into flow due to the attention residue. Now that I realize that, I can try to do something about it. I'm going to look at my schedule and see if there's a better time of day to attempt writing -- I know what usually works for my biological rhythm (writing in the morning does not work well for me) but my usual routine is just not working for pandemic life-rhythm, so I need to figure out what WILL work for our current state of things so that I won't be so interrupted and distracted. One of my daughters made me a "Do not disturb" sign for my room/office the other day (bless her!) -- I'm going to use it. Smile

I've also been implementing some meditation and it seems to be helping my mind enter closer to a flow state, and I also use prayer to help center myself and clear my mind of worries/stress so I can focus. I haven't used music as much because I write best when it's quiet, but I may try it, either before writing or maybe even during if I can find something that helps rather than distracts. I also found Trigger #6 interesting -- lately the fact that I haven't been able to write as much has been making me stressed about how I'm "running out of time," which then makes it harder to focus and write. I am going to think about how to move my mind more into the "focused, happy" state to reach Flow, rather than trying to catapult myself into Flow out of an anxious/worried state, which I now realize is basically what I'd been trying to do.

Side note: I was literally interrupted four times just while trying to type the above response. wotf005 I have realized, though, that when life circumstances change, usually I just need to find the right routine and I can get back into consistent writing (and flow, so that I actually feel good about my writing time!). I know it's possible because I've done it before! So I'm glad Wulf shared this article, because it's giving me the little push I needed to really try to find a new routine that's going to work for my current situation.

v35: Q4 - HM
V36: R, R, R, R
V37: SHM, HM, HM, SHM
V38: SHM, HM, ??
Indie author of The Lex Chronicles (Legends of Arameth), and the in-progress Leyward Stones series--including my serial, Macchiatos, Faerie Princes, and Other Things That Happen at Midnight, currently available on the new Kindle Vella platform. The Vella story is also available through my Patreon, along with side stories, behind the scenes content, and in-progress drafts of other books from my Leyward Stones world.
Website: http://ccrawfordwriting.com. I also have a newsletter and a blog!
Upcoming short story publication in DreamForge Anvil, October 2021 issue!

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Posted : May 21, 2020 10:03 am
Retropianoplayer
(@retropianoplayer)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 231

Flow state is when your mind leaves your present surroundings behind; you forget time, and place, and obligations; you must glance at your watch from time to time to remember to eat and drink; you are immersed so deeply into your story that YOU live vicariously alongside or in your MC and his/her world.

I have been there. While writing my novel a few years back, I'd start out, say, at 11:00 A.M. Next thing I noticed, the downstairs floor lights were turned off, outside, it was dark, the moon was out. Holy moly, it was 8:45 P.M. and I hadn't eaten lunch or dinner. Health always comes first. I interrupted flow state, shut down the computer and ate one meal instead of two.

These days, in order to achieve flow state, I listen to the haunting END THEME from the original THE OUTER LIMITS composed by Howard Lubin, and it sparks fresh ideas for either a SF piece or a HORROR piece. Some past great ideas occur at 4 or 5 AM in the morning when I'm in the deepest level of REM.
I remember them when I wake up the next morning. OR, I play the same theme on piano. The theme is on You Tube and available to anyone who enjoys music prompts. Just look up OUTER LIMITS - ORIGINAL SERIES - SEASON TWO - ENDING THEME.

A nice condensed definition for "flow state" would be "the point when the writer immerses so deeply into his/her characters, that he/she lives vicariously through them."

Best,

Retro wotf022

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Posted : May 21, 2020 10:45 am
Peter_Glen
(@peter_glen)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 143

1) what flow state is, 2) what triggers can help activate it, 3) what can steal it from us, 4) and how you plan to personally enhance your working environment and mental state to usher in more flow state writing.

1) Flow state is a mental condition attained when happily engaging in a challenging task;

2) A combination of internal or environmental influences such as time of day (Brainergy ... is that term a Wulf Moon trademark?!); sensory stimuli (or lack thereof); relaxation; and routine etc.

3) Disruption or stress (task-related or not);

4) Before isolation (weekdays) would wake up and drive to 24hr coffee shop and write in flow state between 5 and 6 am (with coffee) followed by exercise when I'd develop the next part of the story on the treadmill (another kind of flow state?).

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Posted : May 21, 2020 3:35 pm
Henckel
(@henckel)
Silver Member
Posts: 417

https://medium.com/personal-growth-lab/ ... 3aa28dc3e5

And then I want you to make a brief post about 1) what flow state is, 2) what triggers can help activate it, 3) what can steal it from us, 4) and how you plan to personally enhance your working environment and mental state to usher in more flow state writing.

Engage!

Beastmaster Moon

1. What is flow state?
“Flow state” is that magic headspace when you are deeply, mentally submerged in the story writing process. It’s a time when writers are most productive and is more satisfying that beef jerky or Dr Pepper.

2. What triggers can help activate it?
Almost any gentle stimulus can assist in easing writers into flow state. But the stimulus must be unique to the individual writers, such as certain types of music, aroma, food, or setting,

3. What can steal it from us.
Having to make dinner. Running late for after school activities. Neighbors listening to Celine Dion. Boss wants the report yesterday. Partner yelling from the other room “where’s the fire extinguisher”. Kids want to know where babies come from. …I can go on.

4. How you plan to personally enhance your working environment and mental state to usher in more flow state writing.
Like the multitude of other parents amongst our ranks of sleep-deprived aspiring authors, my primary barriers for achieving my flow are (1) family obligations and (2) day job. So, my intended enhancements are limited to the time I have outside of these other obligations. That said, I like Tip #5 in the linked article: Work On One Very Specific Task. I like this because it tells me that I don't have to emerge myself in the full story (which can take a lot of time to achieve); it's fine for me to be emerged in chapter x. And in doing so, I might just slipped a little deeper into the story.
I will, however, remove self-imposed distractions (internet, email, social media). That's totally in my power.
I've tried listening to music. But to be fair, this only works for me when I'm planning/brainstorming. But when the digital pencil hits the preverbal LCD, music is just a distraction.
I also like what Wulf mentioned. That he has a specific trigger (tea kettle) to tell his subconscious that it’s writing time. I think this has merit. Got to try this one.

(2014) V31 Q1 – R
(2018) V35 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q4 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q1 – R
(2020) V37 Q2 – HM
(2020) V37 Q3 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q4 – Finalist
(2021) V38 Q1 – Semi-finalist
(2021) V38 Q2 – SHM
(2021) V38 Q3 – tba

Coolest Achievements
(2019) Published in Escape Anthology
(2020) Published in Sci-Fi Lampoon
(2020) V37 Q4 – Finalist
(2020) Dream Foundry - Shortlisted
(2021) Mike Resnick Memorial Award - 3rd Place winner!!! (to be published)

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Posted : May 21, 2020 3:56 pm
SwiftPotato
(@swiftpotato)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 555

1. Flow state is that place where all of a sudden the words are pouring out of your fingers instead of your fingers wrenching them from your reluctant, distractible brain. Smile
2. Triggers vary by person, but they include music, scent, environment, and strategic consumption of caffeine.

3. It can be stolen by anything that breaks focus: dog barking next to your ear, someone else in the house interrupting to ask you something, your phone telling you that your latest Facebook post has three likes now... basically any external stimulus that stops your flow.

4. I tend to pick a song that matches up with the tone I want my current story to give off. When I want to write, I throw on my good noise cancelling headphones and put that song on repeat while I go through the last bit of story I wrote down and do minor trimming. (I know you're not technically supposed to edit before the first draft is down, but it helps me because it puts me in the mindset of that story's tone. Trimming words that don't fit reveals that tone in sentences and gets it solid in my head.) And most of the time I really do just listen to that one song while I write that one story. It gets stuck in my head even when I'm not writing and sometimes that means I get ideas for how to move the story forward even when I'm doing other things because part of my brain is still in that flow state. Spotify tells me I listened to the song I used for Yellow and Pink for 34 hours. Not sure whether I should be ashamed of that number or not for one song, but it got the job done. Thankfully environment doesn't super matter to me. Just music.

R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!
Stories in Apocalyptic, Cossmass Infinities, and Podcastle

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Posted : May 22, 2020 1:27 am
ZeeTeeBeeZ
(@zeeteebeez)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 151

1) Flow state is when you’re “in the zone.” When things fall into place seemingly on their own.
2) one of the interesting things in the article was about being strategic with caffeine. Caffeine can get you to flow state faster, if you’re smart about when you consume. A big one for me is the idea of mindfulness. Clearing the junk out of your brain so it’s ready to focus on the task at hand. 10 minutes of meditation helps me, but Moon has also talked about how a shower might be the thing that gets you in the zone. I’ve long believed that time in the shower is like meditation.
3) simply put, distractions, whether internal or external will stop us from achieving flow state. If we get distracted it can take a long time to get back into flow state.
4) I’ve really struggled with staying at home, from a writing perspective at least. I’m working more than I used to, but more that anything, I don’t think my mind has had the ability to switch gears from different scenery or changes of pace. I need to be better about some meditating and specifically finding a set time each day to write. I normally start working pretty early in the day, so I think I’m going to try pushing my work day back an hour or so and dedicate writing time to the mornings when I will shower, load myself with some caffeine, and not focus on anything else for an hour or so.

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Posted : May 22, 2020 2:43 am
ZeeTeeBeeZ
(@zeeteebeez)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 151

ALSO:

-music. I love writing with music, but only instrumental. This can help flow state as well. If you’re looking for something to write to, try the Mandalorian soundtrack.

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Posted : May 22, 2020 2:45 am
RETreasure
(@rschibler)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 743

ALSO:

-music. I love writing with music, but only instrumental. This can help flow state as well. If you’re looking for something to write to, try the Mandalorian soundtrack.

I have to do instrumental as well. I am partial to Chopin. I’ll try the Mandalorian soundtrack, neat idea.

V34: R,HM,R
V35: HM,R,R,HM
V36: R,HM,HM,SHM
V37: HM,SF,SHM,SHM
V38: F, SHM, P, P
Available for critiques - PM for availability.
www.rebeccaetreasure.com

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Posted : May 22, 2020 3:24 am
ZeeTeeBeeZ
(@zeeteebeez)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 151

ALSO:

-music. I love writing with music, but only instrumental. This can help flow state as well. If you’re looking for something to write to, try the Mandalorian soundtrack.

I have to do instrumental as well. I am partial to Chopin. I’ll try the Mandalorian soundtrack, neat idea.

I like movie scores and soundtracks for getting me into the emotional mindset of what I’m trying to write. I listened to the Mandalorian music while I was writing a science fantasy story, but I think that can work for really any type of movie/tv show score.

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Posted : May 22, 2020 4:59 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2277

Enjoying everyone's comments, as always. I'll just pick up on the music trigger right now. I used to write high fantasy to the Braveheart soundtrack. But once the tempo increases, it distracts and I can't write anymore. This happens so often in any soundtrack I've given up writing to music--it just pulls me out of flow state when the tempo picks up. When I'm doing watercolor, it's not as bad, but that's because my concentration isn't as high.

I wrote that Secret long before I read that article, and threaded the article into it the other day. I find it interesting how many points I hit without researching the subject--I was just sharing my observations. It just shows it's a real thing.

I am very curious if the song Leah listened to for 36 hours for her winner was the was dulcet tones from "Anarchy in the UK" by the Sex Pistols.

All the beast,

Beastmaster Moon

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Topic starter Posted : May 22, 2020 11:25 am
StarReacher
(@angelakayd)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 141

Flow State Assignment:

1) What is flow state? Flow state happens when you are extremely productive, and the writing process is effortless. You feel great because words are flowing out of you are almost automatically. For me, I become so engrossed in my story that I no longer know where I am at that moment. It is rare but powerful for me.

2) What triggers can help activate it? Jari Rooner’s article lists the following 10 triggers: 1) Eliminating external distractions so you can focus at least 10-15 minutes to get into a flow state; 2) Eliminate internal distractions such as stress or anxious/busy thoughts using journaling or meditation; 3) Working at your Biological Peak Time (BPT) – morning vs night depending on your own body rhythms; 4) listening to the type of music that works for you; 5) Work on one very specific task; 6) Task must be challenging without overwhelming; 7) Have a clear outcome or goal; 8) Consume just enough caffeine (200 milligrams) or 2 cups of coffee; 9) Stay hydrated; and 10) Create a mental cue. Other triggers that Wulf Moon mentions are a dedicated dream/writing space; writing with a set routine; writing your million words; writing full-time if you can; using aromas; favorite foods; exercise, reading; and even showering (a personal favorite of mine!)

3) What can steal it from us? External distractions are email; the wrong kinds of music, poor working environments (noise, clutter, other people, ringing phones, barking dogs, etc.) Internal distractions like worrying about other things or general stress.

4) How do I plan to personally enhance my working environment and mental state to usher in a more flow state writing? In the next few months, I am planning to move across country and start a new life for myself. I will quite literally acquire a “room of my own.” That said, even living in a family member’s tiny basement with no private space for nearly a year, I have managed to get an incredible amount of writing done. Headphones with music helps. As does writing in the middle of the night after everyone else sleeps. The weird thing is that writing has been a fantastic escape from the suitcases, storage bins, and other people’s belongings I’m surrounded by. A writer will always write no matter what. For me, writing has always been an escape and I continue to use that. As a humorous note, I once got into such a “flow state” while working on a short story during my lunch break at an office job, that I literally forgot that I was at work. When I looked up, I had a moment of shock at seeing my my coworkers. It was almost time to go home!

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Posted : May 22, 2020 1:11 pm
StarReacher
(@angelakayd)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 141

Lately, my brain has just NOT been focusing even when I try. I used to hit flow state regularly and get out thousands of words in what felt like hardly any time, and now I will try and try and even just getting out 100 words feels like the biggest effort, even if I have time to work on it.

I think your pain is shared in multiple ways by so many parents (and sometimes particularly moms) during this pandemic. So don't beat yourself up. Being a mom with very young children is tough!! Especially now.

What helps me when I know that I'm going to have a lot of interruptions is to use that particular time for brainstorming, outlining, and editing. If I really hit a wall, I go through books I love and read the opening page for each of them. I ask myself what works for me and how I can use that technique in my own writing. Or I read flash pieces or short stories from the anthologies. And if things are really hectic, but I have the time, I might watch award winning shorts on youtube. Only shorts. Not whole movies or all my time would be gone. Sometimes seeing short stories played out in visual form gets my creative juices going. You could study books and movies your kids read/watch. How do the stories open? What parts stand out for your kids?

Consider using note cards/whiteboard/notebook handy for stray thoughts. Jot down images or ideas as you go about your daily mom duties rather than waiting until your "official writing time". When you sit down to write, you will find you are not starting at a completely blank page because you got a flash -- even something as simple as character running along a path in the woods, etc. Sometimes, I will tell myself, okay, just write this little scene where Character A confronts Character B. On a bad day, I might only get that scene written. Take that as a success. Even 200 words a day can get you a decent 6,000 word short story in a month. What you will eventually find, though, is that you will get back into your groove if you complete tiny "chunks" because your confidence will pick back up again.

Celebrate the little victories and shrug off the other days. Happy writing!!

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Posted : May 22, 2020 1:45 pm
CCrawford
(@ccrawford)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 225

Thank you for the encouragement, StarReacher! <3

v35: Q4 - HM
V36: R, R, R, R
V37: SHM, HM, HM, SHM
V38: SHM, HM, ??
Indie author of The Lex Chronicles (Legends of Arameth), and the in-progress Leyward Stones series--including my serial, Macchiatos, Faerie Princes, and Other Things That Happen at Midnight, currently available on the new Kindle Vella platform. The Vella story is also available through my Patreon, along with side stories, behind the scenes content, and in-progress drafts of other books from my Leyward Stones world.
Website: http://ccrawfordwriting.com. I also have a newsletter and a blog!
Upcoming short story publication in DreamForge Anvil, October 2021 issue!

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Posted : May 22, 2020 2:04 pm
StarReacher
(@angelakayd)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 141

Thank you for the encouragement, StarReacher! <3

You're welcome! By the way, I always get a smile when I see your Avatar. Your kids are such cutie pies!

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Posted : May 22, 2020 3:01 pm
CCrawford
(@ccrawford)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 225

You're welcome! By the way, I always get a smile when I see your Avatar. Your kids are such cutie pies!

Thank you!

v35: Q4 - HM
V36: R, R, R, R
V37: SHM, HM, HM, SHM
V38: SHM, HM, ??
Indie author of The Lex Chronicles (Legends of Arameth), and the in-progress Leyward Stones series--including my serial, Macchiatos, Faerie Princes, and Other Things That Happen at Midnight, currently available on the new Kindle Vella platform. The Vella story is also available through my Patreon, along with side stories, behind the scenes content, and in-progress drafts of other books from my Leyward Stones world.
Website: http://ccrawfordwriting.com. I also have a newsletter and a blog!
Upcoming short story publication in DreamForge Anvil, October 2021 issue!

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Posted : May 22, 2020 3:29 pm
SwiftPotato
(@swiftpotato)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 555

I am very curious if the song Leah listened to for 36 hours for her winner was the was dulcet tones from "Anarchy in the UK" by the Sex Pistols.

wotf019 Not quite! To satisfy your curiosity, it was Electric Sheep by Orphyd. As you say in the rest of your comment, it's a fairly repetitive, low-key song, so it's easy to write to.

R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!
Stories in Apocalyptic, Cossmass Infinities, and Podcastle

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Posted : May 23, 2020 6:57 am
Retropianoplayer
(@retropianoplayer)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 231

Swift Potato, I had never heard of Electric Sheep by Orphyd. So I just listened to it. It's pleasant, although too much syncopation and background drums for me to concentrate fully on the writing. But, hey, it worked for you, and that's all that matters! Everyone has different musical tastes, and if your tastes win, so much the better.

My favorite choice of instrumental music would be the group SECRET GARDEN. An Irish-Norwegian duo with an Irish violinist, and a Norwegian pianist.

Wulf, the soundtrack from Braveheart is magnificent. I listen to it all the time on Pandora. But I understand how, when the music crescendos, or the drums beat too loudly, it could immediately distract from concentration.

Star Reacher, the problem with being in "word flow" for too extended a period, is that after nine hours on the computer, my neck and back hurt, my shoulders are killing me, and I need to just stop ASAP.

Best,

Retro

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Posted : May 23, 2020 11:53 am
rjklee
(@rjklee)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 175

Flow State Assignment

1) What is flow state? A state of mind in which our productivity levels are greatly enhanced. A place we can enter in which the amazing creative genius of our subconscious has more power to work for us in the conscious world. That special zone where writers go to create novels in a single day.

2) What triggers can help activate it? Put away distractions, meditate, and/or have a dedicated writing space; a routine you follow every time you write; a specific time you write during, based around the time in which you feel most capable of writing; music, smell, foods, exercise, reading, and shower.

For me, it's a timer and music, relaxing and clearing the mind (hand gesture and internal sense or brief nonspecific words), as well as a drink (usually coffee, sometimes also water, juice, or tea). I find certain triggers that are apparently important for some will destroy me, specifically dedicated writing space and dedicated writing time: they are useful methods that I've used at times, but they usually become an extra stressor because I never have that perfect space or time, so if I believe I have to have it, I am less likely to write (same is true with exercise). So I find the opposite is true for me.

I have often used the Write or Die software to write fast. I love it, but it's essentially a timer with certain challenges or rewards optional (can't delete, nice sounds if reach a certain word count, bad sounds or red flash if you slow down). I find the timer is enough to make me go, but the rest is a nice option.

3) What can steal it from us? As mentioned above, the big one is stress. Anything that stresses you out has to be set aside or you cannot enter the flow state. That's why if there's advice or a trigger that is supposed to work but stresses us out, drop it and do something else that works for you.

The other big one is distraction. We live in the age of distraction some would say, so it is important to create tricks. Often we can't clear away all distractions easily. I have many, as I'm sure you do. One of my distractions is video games. Sure, I could sell the systems, purge my external hard drive, etc. But that would be a stressor, aka anti-flow state. So I trick myself in various ways into believing that I am gaming, essentially (and in a way, it's totally true). Two main ways I do this are timer and music. The timer makes it a game. I have to write this scene in 20 minutes. Or I have to write this flash in one hour. Or I have to write this rewrite of all five scenes in four hours. Whatever. The timer means it is a game. To expand on the game concept, I often include other elements: timer plus other challenges. Other challenges would include have the character do something specific that you want them to do, or you must insert some poetry, or your must connect the five tie-ins to the theme as listed in a note beside your keyboard.

The music is essential for me, because it helps me immerse. It doesn't have to be game music, but that is another way I trick myself into realizing it is an amazing , immersive game. I might play the Witcher 3 Blood and Wine OST if I'm writing nature scenes or fantasy/supernatural battle scenes. I might play Shadowrun Returns Hong Kong OST if I'm writing cyberpunk, something gritty, or modern struggle. I might play Jeremy Soule soundtracks from Guild Wars or Skyrim if I'm doing something more contemplative or maybe adventure. Or maybe not game music: I might play house, techno, or glitch hop music if my characters would be into that (deep house or progressive house would actually be pretty useful for entering trance-like states). Or I might play heavy metal if everything is intense and the end of the world for my characters. Or hip hop, jazzy or instrumental, if we're more chill and communicative and fun-loving. Anyway, point is I have playlists and they're essential for immersing myself in different realities.

I forget what it was I saw in 2014 or 2015...let's see...right, it was Michael Moorcock on how to write a novel in 3 days. Actually reading this and implementing bits into my writing process helped me create a lot 2015-2016 and now. What grabbed me about it, and what relates to flow state IMO, is the prep: he suggested making lists of an event for every four pages, a list of coherent images, a clear structure, a list of images of pure fantastic, among other things. The point was to prep just enough so that when you hit a possible snag, you keep going. There is no excuse to interrupt flow state, because right there beside you is your backup guide. And you don't over-prepare either, because you want some mysteries and unknowns in your lists that will also help to drive the subconscious that thrives on flow state.

4) How do I plan to personally enhance my working environment and mental state to usher in more flow state writing? Make specific lists more! I just had a talk with my writing partner about my story and that brainstorming helped me put together a new page of notes to direct my story. So I used a timer, music (swamp lake ambience), and the list of specific needs and wants for the entire story (about a page), and wrote. It flowed! I think that having a specific brainstorm and game plan makes it easy to have a clear goal in sight and know exactly what to do.

I do get distracted, so I would like to create more game plans for stories and process (submission and revision) and keep them on my computer desktop or maybe even revolving background wallpaper. I think those would remind me to prep for flow state and keep my subconscious mulling over matters, making it easier to slip into flow. I have a ton of lists and how-to type stuff, but I need it to be easier to access.

I will toy around with mental cues. Maybe there are some specific phrases that help more than others. For now, vague we've got this positivity, or even we're going to win in the end (She-Ra) go-time praising, works. Laugh all you want, but it helps! ahahah

Oh, I forgot to even mention another big one: reading. I do have a corner of anthologies, a corner of poetry, and a corner of other books, so I often grab a stack of say 7-10 books, I'll flip through them as I please, maybe I read the starts to five short stories, the endings of another five, several poems, and an editor's discussion of his gardening techniques and how it relates to grimdark fantasy barbarians. That is inspirational, whatever it is. I found after reading a chapter of Towles' A Gentleman in Moscow, the magic of my sentences startled me. Maybe upon revision I would see otherwise, but the inspiration helped drive flow.

R.J.K. Lee
WotF 2015-present: HMx6 SHMx1
My blog has monthly lists of upcoming deadlines and submission windows; let them motivate you to be more productive: https://figmentsdiehard.blogspot.com/
Give a listen to my creepy reading of my original flash fiction piece on the December 2020 episode of the Weird Christmas Podcast at the 22:10 mark: https://weirdchristmas.com/2020/12/23/weird-xmas-flash-fiction-2020-contest-results/. May Stosh persevere.

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Posted : May 23, 2020 2:22 pm
rjklee
(@rjklee)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 175

I used to hit flow state regularly and get out thousands of words in what felt like hardly any time, and now I will try and try and even just getting out 100 words feels like the biggest effort, even if I have time to work on it.
[...]
I also found Trigger #6 interesting -- lately the fact that I haven't been able to write as much has been making me stressed about how I'm "running out of time," which then makes it harder to focus and write. I am going to think about how to move my mind more into the "focused, happy" state to reach Flow, rather than trying to catapult myself into Flow out of an anxious/worried state, which I now realize is basically what I'd been trying to do.

Side note: I was literally interrupted four times just while trying to type the above response. wotf005 I have realized, though, that when life circumstances change, usually I just need to find the right routine and I can get back into consistent writing (and flow, so that I actually feel good about my writing time!). I know it's possible because I've done it before! So I'm glad Wulf shared this article, because it's giving me the little push I needed to really try to find a new routine that's going to work for my current situation.

Feel free to ignore my advice anyone with issues finding time and space to write, but as it helped me in the past...

Are you sure you're not over-stressing about the inability to have that specific writing area and writing time? I learned not to place special value on writing time and area after working in kindergartens and also from before my divorce when my kids were in the house every day (I still get to experience the joy of kids in the house often, especially since we've shared them about half the time during the covid-19 lockdown in Japan--it is a joy many gloss over, so try not to put writing and kids against each other if at all possible). Do try the Do Not Enter sign and other such to create that dedicated space, if you think it will help, but my advice may be counter to others. Don't stress over not having that specific time and space. Instead, do the prep and the subconscious mulling over, and create a trigger that does not rely on time, space, or lack of kids. The kids have an activity or other focus for 10 minutes, then you use it as flow despite what they say about it taking 15 minutes to start. You write lists, dream, mull over, and gear up your system for flow state without relying on two elements that are usually considered essential but are not (dedicated time and writing space).

R.J.K. Lee
WotF 2015-present: HMx6 SHMx1
My blog has monthly lists of upcoming deadlines and submission windows; let them motivate you to be more productive: https://figmentsdiehard.blogspot.com/
Give a listen to my creepy reading of my original flash fiction piece on the December 2020 episode of the Weird Christmas Podcast at the 22:10 mark: https://weirdchristmas.com/2020/12/23/weird-xmas-flash-fiction-2020-contest-results/. May Stosh persevere.

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Posted : May 23, 2020 2:48 pm
CCrawford
(@ccrawford)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 225

Feel free to ignore my advice anyone with issues finding time and space to write, but as it helped me in the past...

Are you sure you're not over-stressing about the inability to have that specific writing area and writing time? I learned not to place special value on writing time and area after working in kindergartens and also from before my divorce when my kids were in the house every day (I still get to experience the joy of kids in the house often, especially since we've shared them about half the time during the covid-19 lockdown in Japan--it is a joy many gloss over, so try not to put writing and kids against each other if at all possible). Do try the Do Not Enter sign and other such to create that dedicated space, if you think it will help, but my advice may be counter to others. Don't stress over not having that specific time and space. Instead, do the prep and the subconscious mulling over, and create a trigger that does not rely on time, space, or lack of kids. The kids have an activity or other focus for 10 minutes, then you use it as flow despite what they say about it taking 15 minutes to start. You write lists, dream, mull over, and gear up your system for flow state without relying on two elements that are usually considered essential but are not (dedicated time and writing space).

Thank you for this advice! I do not at all wish to convey that I regret having my kids around -- we were homeschooling even before all this, and being together as a family is just part of our rhythm of life, and one I'm very thankful for! I do try not to pit writing against the kids, but for me, that is more easily accomplished if I block out a time and space for it at a certain part of the day, so that I'm not distracted by it the rest of the time and can be more in the moment with my kids. (I struggle with being a natural daydreamer and not being in the moment anyway, so this is something I consciously work on.) It's only that lately, I seem to have far more trouble focusing, and the space of the day which had been my routine office time (in which they played and did other things) just hasn't really been happening, mostly because of my own lack of focus and routine right now -- I'm not even making the most of the time I do have! I've made some progress on my story the past few days and seem to have gotten past the worst of my mental block, but my periods of Flow have still been far less frequent than usual. But it has been better and I feel like I'm getting some of my rhythm back, finally.

On the flip side, though, I do agree that I often play mental games with myself where it's easy to use not having that "perfect" time as an excuse not to write. So I think it is good advice to use small bits of time I may find myself in to make lists, mull over things, etc. I do that when something suddenly comes to me while cooking or something, but I could certainly be more intentional about it, so thank you for that suggestion!

Also... you said:

I have often used the Write or Die software to write fast. I love it, but it's essentially a timer with certain challenges or rewards optional (can't delete, nice sounds if reach a certain word count, bad sounds or red flash if you slow down). I find the timer is enough to make me go, but the rest is a nice option.

I used Write or Die once when I was doing NaNoWriMo and it gave me MAJOR anxiety, but the rush of fear was good for forcing out words! Lol. They were by no means the highest quality words I'd produced but I did manage to complete NaNoWriMo that way. wotf017

v35: Q4 - HM
V36: R, R, R, R
V37: SHM, HM, HM, SHM
V38: SHM, HM, ??
Indie author of The Lex Chronicles (Legends of Arameth), and the in-progress Leyward Stones series--including my serial, Macchiatos, Faerie Princes, and Other Things That Happen at Midnight, currently available on the new Kindle Vella platform. The Vella story is also available through my Patreon, along with side stories, behind the scenes content, and in-progress drafts of other books from my Leyward Stones world.
Website: http://ccrawfordwriting.com. I also have a newsletter and a blog!
Upcoming short story publication in DreamForge Anvil, October 2021 issue!

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Posted : May 23, 2020 3:22 pm
rjklee
(@rjklee)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 175

Thank you for this advice! I do not at all wish to convey that I regret having my kids around -- we were homeschooling even before all this, and being together as a family is just part of our rhythm of life, and one I'm very thankful for! I do try not to pit writing against the kids, but for me, that is more easily accomplished if I block out a time and space for it at a certain part of the day, so that I'm not distracted by it the rest of the time and can be more in the moment with my kids. (I struggle with being a natural daydreamer and not being in the moment anyway, so this is something I consciously work on.) It's only that lately, I seem to have far more trouble focusing, and the space of the day which had been my routine office time (in which they played and did other things) just hasn't really been happening, mostly because of my own lack of focus and routine right now -- I'm not even making the most of the time I do have! I've made some progress on my story the past few days and seem to have gotten past the worst of my mental block, but my periods of Flow have still been far less frequent than usual. But it has been better and I feel like I'm getting some of my rhythm back, finally.

On the flip side, though, I do agree that I often play mental games with myself where it's easy to use not having that "perfect" time as an excuse not to write. So I think it is good advice to use small bits of time I may find myself in to make lists, mull over things, etc. I do that when something suddenly comes to me while cooking or something, but I could certainly be more intentional about it, so thank you for that suggestion!

Also... you said:

I have often used the Write or Die software to write fast. I love it, but it's essentially a timer with certain challenges or rewards optional (can't delete, nice sounds if reach a certain word count, bad sounds or red flash if you slow down). I find the timer is enough to make me go, but the rest is a nice option.

I used Write or Die once when I was doing NaNoWriMo and it gave me MAJOR anxiety, but the rush of fear was good for forcing out words! Lol. They were by no means the highest quality words I'd produced but I did manage to complete NaNoWriMo that way. wotf017

Anxiety might mean Write or Die isn't for you, but if it worked...ahahaha. I think maybe because I tended to use Write or Die with another writing partner in the past, it was more of a fun game than something to stress out about. Sort of my experience with word sprints I did with the Apex group recently.

I didn't really realize how immensely lists help me until this weekend. Okay, I exaggerate--I knew but forgot. I had to rewrite my short story entirely, which was daunting when I paused to think about it, but then the list was there and I just did it with music as a timer. So it was just focus, flow, and relaxed version of a timer. And I just finished it now! I hope the flow continues to improve for you in whatever way works.

R.J.K. Lee
WotF 2015-present: HMx6 SHMx1
My blog has monthly lists of upcoming deadlines and submission windows; let them motivate you to be more productive: https://figmentsdiehard.blogspot.com/
Give a listen to my creepy reading of my original flash fiction piece on the December 2020 episode of the Weird Christmas Podcast at the 22:10 mark: https://weirdchristmas.com/2020/12/23/weird-xmas-flash-fiction-2020-contest-results/. May Stosh persevere.

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Posted : May 23, 2020 4:04 pm
Corbin.Maxwell
(@corbin-maxwell)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 232

I was thinking that flow-state should be a compound noun. It seems to read better that way. Personal choice I would imagine.

I ain't cut out to be no Jesse James.

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Posted : May 23, 2020 5:00 pm
rjklee
(@rjklee)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 175

I really, really want to buy a fancy coffee machine now as my new jumpstart for the flow-state...

R.J.K. Lee
WotF 2015-present: HMx6 SHMx1
My blog has monthly lists of upcoming deadlines and submission windows; let them motivate you to be more productive: https://figmentsdiehard.blogspot.com/
Give a listen to my creepy reading of my original flash fiction piece on the December 2020 episode of the Weird Christmas Podcast at the 22:10 mark: https://weirdchristmas.com/2020/12/23/weird-xmas-flash-fiction-2020-contest-results/. May Stosh persevere.

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Posted : May 23, 2020 8:25 pm
AjZach
(@ajzach)
Bronze Member
Posts: 96

I just wanted to remind anyone that is struggling, that things aren't the same. With covid-19, kids at home (and possibly anxious) whatever you have going on, things are different. Any major life event brings some change with it, and that can definitely affect your work flow and energy. I've been seeing lots of stuff about how much people can get done right now, or what people have historically done in quarantine, and I think that's so much pressure! At least I feel like it.
So if you aren't getting done as much as you used to, that's ok. Keep writing, keep training yourself to write of course, but take a breather too. If you are thrown out of your usual routine, that's ok, you'll find a new one. Just give yourself some space to do that.

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Posted : May 24, 2020 3:25 am
storysinger
(@storysinger)
Gold Member
Posts: 880

The flow state is right at the edge of your conscious thoughts waiting to be brought forward.
I'm sure almost every one of us reaches that point more than we realize.
Stop thinking about what you have to accomplish and enjoy what you are doing.
If you can't seem to concentrate then don't, just write with feeling, and tap in to every moment of the experience.
I played golf Saturday and had 11 pars in a row, that was a flow state time.
I played guitar and sang for 2 hours nonstop without forgetting a word, I even closed my eyes when the feeling was strong, that was a flow state time.
I sat before my laptop and worked on the ending of the story I'm preparing for the next quarter and every word fit where it needed to be, again, I entered a flow state time.
The more you experience that moment the easier it is to attain.
Write on!

Today's science fiction is tomorrow's reality-D.R.Sweeney
HM-V32/Q3
HM-V36/Q4
HM-V38/Q1

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Posted : May 24, 2020 6:24 am
SwiftPotato
(@swiftpotato)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 555

Happy Monday, beasties! Today's Monday prompt is: MOLTING HEART.

R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!
Stories in Apocalyptic, Cossmass Infinities, and Podcastle

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Posted : May 25, 2020 4:01 am
Henckel
(@henckel)
Silver Member
Posts: 417

I just wanted to remind anyone that is struggling, that things aren't the same. With covid-19, kids at home (and possibly anxious) whatever you have going on, things are different. Any major life event brings some change with it, and that can definitely affect your work flow and energy. I've been seeing lots of stuff about how much people can get done right now, or what people have historically done in quarantine, and I think that's so much pressure! At least I feel like it.
So if you aren't getting done as much as you used to, that's ok. Keep writing, keep training yourself to write of course, but take a breather too. If you are thrown out of your usual routine, that's ok, you'll find a new one. Just give yourself some space to do that.

Very very very true. At the risk of flogging it..... yes, yes, yes, you are so very right.

..and just to add to the anxiety of lockdown, yesterday was suposed to be my first day back in the office. But then we had about 10 earthquakes. ... the first was magnitude 5.8 then a bunch of smaller ones hit about every 10 minutes. My daughter and I were standing next to front door when it started shifting in its frame. It sounded like someone maniacally kicking the door 500 times trying to bust the door off its hinges. ... that'll raise a person's anxiety.

Anyway, yes, my writing time has suffered over lockdow and I havent achieved flow state for a very very long time. I just cant do it with the kids fighting in the next room. My allotment of writing time is limited, but I maximised the hell out of it.

(2014) V31 Q1 – R
(2018) V35 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q3 – HM
(2019) V36 Q4 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q1 – R
(2020) V37 Q2 – HM
(2020) V37 Q3 – SHM
(2020) V37 Q4 – Finalist
(2021) V38 Q1 – Semi-finalist
(2021) V38 Q2 – SHM
(2021) V38 Q3 – tba

Coolest Achievements
(2019) Published in Escape Anthology
(2020) Published in Sci-Fi Lampoon
(2020) V37 Q4 – Finalist
(2020) Dream Foundry - Shortlisted
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Posted : May 25, 2020 6:28 am
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