Tag Archive | "flow"

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Art Maintains Momentum

Posted on 13 May 2009 by Carl

Corbett Barr asked in a comment on When Is It Time Enough how to help maintain momentum when you’ve started something.

Slacking off mid-project is a big problem for all of us.  I know it is for me and I’ve left many projects unfinished because I didn’t have the motivation to really stick with it.

These days I have a few tricks up my sleeve to keep myself focused when my energy dwindles and one that I really love is using different forms of art to keep myself motivated.

Here are a few of them and why they work for me.

1) Sufjan Stevens – You Are The Blood

Listen to it on my Blip.fm station.

This song just strikes a chord with my creative center.  I plug in my headphones and put this on loop and next thing I know two hours have passed and I’ve crunched through a ton of work.  It shifts tone and style throughout the song which I think helps keeps me shifting gears and moving forward.

It helps me enter a state of flow when I’m working, keeping me focused and dedicated to the task at hand.

Find a song or an album that resonates with you creatively.  Often times when you are hitting a wall putting on an aural creative trigger will help you push through it and get on to the next step in your process.  Even better is that it will keep you engaged with your work and focused so you don’t slip out of the process.

2) Flobots – Handlebars

Handlebars Art Maintains Momentum

Not only does this song resonate with my creativity but the music video has such striking motion graphics and imagery.  It inspires me to action far more than the song would on its own.

It is full of revolutionary images and the theme pulls out of me that drive to create change in the world.  As a liberation artist who wants to spread the passion to create a life worth waking up for this music video hurls me towards that goal.

Find images or video that resonates with your goals.  When your motivation wanes hit the play button and feel the rush of inspiration.

3) Walt Whitman – Song of the Open Road

Nothing says motivation to a vagabond like this poem by Walt Whitman.  While it isn’t necessarily a quick read or a quick fix it definitely helps me keep me on track with my goals as a vagabond.

The imagery that Whitman conjures has played out for me in as I travel and when I’m feeling stuck or that persistent ennui from a late night spent alone it keeps the fire stocked with fuel for the long run.

Find a poem or series of verse that resonate with your lifestyle.  When you find yourself slipping from your desired life take a moment to reconnect with what helped spark those dreams in the first place.

What types of art do you use to keep you motivated, focused and inspired?

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How Calligraphy Clears My Mind – Focus From a Pen Nib

Posted on 25 March 2009 by Carl

Fingers stained with ink I set the fountain pen down.

An hour has passed.  My mind is clear and aware.

Alphabets are arranged over and over again down the sheet of paper.

I have been practicing my calligraphy.

No pen, no ink, no table, no room, no time, no quiet, no inclination.

-James Joyce

fountainpen How Calligraphy Clears My Mind   Focus From a Pen NibIn an age of fonts and typography (including the wonders of kinetic typography), there is something very simple about calligraphy that takes me out of time and place.  It is practicing my penmanship as if I were six years old. It is mastering the easy flow of my hand across the page. It is sculpting each letter to form as if carving letters of stone. It is sitting in class and doodling my name every different way I can see it.

When I sit down with my notepad and fountain pen my focus is scattered and often I am feeling stuck.  Unable to move forward with action whether it is writing, choreographing, or editing a design.

Setting nib to paper the letters take shape.  I become active.  Each stroke draws me in farther and soon pages are full and an hour has disappeared.  My mind is clear of distraction and my attention is sharper.  No surprise, I am happier.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes this as a state of flow.

Mihaly, a prominent psychologist on creativity and happiness, explains the power that challenging creative activity can have on our sense of being.  With a high level of challenge in an activity which you have a corresponding level of skill you can enter a psychological state of flow.

Flow is described by athletes, composers, programmers and artists alike as a state of being where action flows without needed direction.  The focus is so intense time and the feeling of self fall away so that there is no barrier between the actor and the activity or the artist and the art.

“Being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”

-Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Interview for Wired

Practicing calligraphy pulls me into a state of flow.

When I am struggling in ennui, a moment of adversity, or just scatter-brained, taking up an activity which is single-minded and purposeful, one that can always challenge me, and pouring myself into it clears away all the obstructions.  I forget about the bad day, the pressure to write, the calls I should make or the lack of ambition I have to get out of the house.

I come out focused.  Ready to move.

What is your focus activity?  What do you do to find clarity and calm?  Let me know and comment.

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