The power of “flow”.

128 gabe looking   128 gabe smiling

Today Gabe is wearing a teal jacket, a grey sweatshirt, khaki pants, brown shoes, and blue sunglasses.

This week I’ve been struggling a lot with motivation. After being out of town for a little while, lounging on the beach, going out to dinner, and just generally taking a *complete* break for a couple of days, I’ve found it really hard to get back into the momentum of my work. Before I left, I was really excited about what I was working on and happy to spend many hours every day writing and editing and fine-tuning and looking for new ways to make the things I did even better.

And I’m still super excited about all the things in the works right now. Like, super excited.

But I found it hard to swing out of bed in the morning and sit down at the computer and really get into what I was doing. My mind wandered, and I couldn’t get into the “flow” of making work.

One of my very favorite pieces of writing ever is on the topic of “flow”. It was written by David Rakoff, an amazing writer, who died last year. I feel so lucky I had the chance to see him speak in San Francisco and even talk to him after the event and get to tell him what an inspiration he was to me.

But this piece he wrote, that really got to me, was on the topic of “making things” and that amazing mindset you get into when you’re creating something, where you lose time and you are completely overtaken by what you’re working on. (The piece is here on Salon and I highly recommend any writers, artists, creators, and actually just anyone click over and read it.)

So anyways, I wasn’t getting into the flow and it was really frustrating. But last night I sat down and just started working. Even though I wasn’t feeling it, I just said “Kate, you’re not allowed to leave this desk until this is done.”

And surprise. By just sitting there and sticking with it and not refreshing Twitter and not queuing up another episode of The West Wing and just making myself write until this thing was done – I got back into the flow.

At first it was terrible. Poorly written and bad to read. But by getting that bad writing out of my system, I blew the cobwebs off my brain and kickstarted that part of me that loves writing. And that piece turned into another which turned into this blog post. Now I feel excited to start again today and just take care of business. Which is my very favorite thing.

Have any of you ever tackled writer’s block? It happens all the time and when it’s happening it feels like it will never end. But if you really want to get through it and go back to doing what you love, sometimes you have just sit there and work. And what you write will be bad. Until it’s not again.

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18 comments

  1. Miss Chipie

    Writer’s block comes round for a brew from time to time, thats when I get up and go do something not very interesting instead rather than entertain it. Love your posts and your fella’s jacket, he is your fella isn’t he?

    • Kate Stull

      He is my fella! And you’re right, getting away from your writer’s block is another great technique for curing it. Sometimes it takes looking at something else for a while to see your work again with clear eyes. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  2. mikkoallday

    I hear you on flow and all things creative. Not sure how I feel about a teal jacket though. 🙂 Thanks for checking out my blog. I see we share a few things (love of writing, harassing our other half with camera). Be well.

  3. inspirationbyjuly

    Thanks for checking out my blog. I too have a problem with remaining focused. Work has been hectic over the past week and I have not had time to sleep much less write and that has left me frustrated. I’m glad you got over your writer’s block.

    • Kate Stull

      I totally know that feeling – too many things you *have* to do and not enough time to do what you *want* to do. Hope your schedule relaxes soon and you can get back into it. 🙂

  4. K

    I had somewhat of a writer’s block following some trauma in our family. I have done what you said and continued nonetheless. Eventually, I know, what I write will be better. Today I felt a little more “flow,” so I guess I’m moving in the right direction (for now). 🙂 I also pulled out a pile of waiting quilt squares with which I am now being creative. Nice blog!

    • Kate Stull

      Glad to hear you’re getting back into your rhythm after some hard times. Keep it up! The more you get in the habit of being creative again, the easier is gets. Good luck. 🙂

  5. Pingback: Can do. « kate stull
  6. Alex-Marie

    I feel you, girl. I think I usually feel blocked when I am preoccupied by an idea that I should be working on, that I once had in mind, but now my creativity is elsewhere, and the practical side of me won’t allow me to move on! Ever feel blocked by unfinished business?

    • Kate Stull

      Of course! Having something else you want to do on your mind makes focusing impossible sometimes. It always comes down to deciding what’s the best use of your time at that moment – if you’re not focused, does it make sense to just go do the other thing? Or is it better to power through what you’re doing so you can get to the thing you really want to be doing? Figuring out your priorities is always the key! 🙂

  7. Pingback: Inspiration vs. procrastination « kate stull

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