I’ve always known the term “flow” as “being in the zone,” which originally started during my young adolescent days in sports. However, I quickly realized that I rarely experienced “being in the zone,” athletically. The content definition of flow was a reaffirmation of my own experience. Allow me to explain my own take on how I experienced “being in the zone”…
Creatively, I’ve experienced the “flow” and rarely, have I had the experience to witness its intensely. When it happens at an intense state, it always occurs on my terms, driven by motivation out of curiosity (or boredom) and the luxury of having free time. If I’m “in the zone” it’s never initiated in order to meet a deadline. Meeting a deadline helps me to stay on track, yet rarely motivates me to find personal satisfaction. Finding the “flow” doesn’t occur for me when fulfilling someone’s idea or sparked by an incentive of monetary means. It’s buried deep within and often occurs when I realize something that I’ve long been passionate about, but perhaps never fully understood why, nor had dedicated quality time to explore.
It occurs when I find myself highly emotional during the creative process, at the point of crying out of joy or because of a realization that I reached a point of where I wanted to be. It may not necessarily occur because of how well I executed something, but rather how I reached the point of realization. This type of intensity with feeling the “flow” during a project, has always been 100% on my terms and no one else. It started with me and ended with me, however I believe that it’s not the only way for me to experience “flow.”
For me, it’s difficult to categorize “flow.” I don’t see it as something that occurs very often at an intense level, nor do I expect it to always occur. It’s special. It’s a moment that most likely occurs due to several accumulated hours, days or years dedicated to one specific task: exploration. It may also occur because of putting off or suppressing a genuine desire to explore whatever it is you want to create, which can force exploration. When I first experienced an intense moment of “being in the zone” I started to shake and cry. I also didn’t realize what just happened. I thought that I was mentally unstable. I also didn’t realize that I had stayed up until 4AM on a work night because of it.
How I define “flow” is when I’ve found out how to exactly convey a visual image or concept and translate it to paper or screen. Exactly. Not 99.9%, “almost there” or “close, but maybe next time,” but exactly, without any doubts. For that reason alone, I think that experiencing “the zone” or “the flow” is special. Flow can definitely derive from inspiration. Inspiration often leads to excitement and renewed hope for personal discovery. Inspiration also serves as an example for researching further into how or why I have been inspired. Collaboration can also attribute with finding flow, but experiencing flow has to be on my own terms. At some point I need to figure out whatever it is I want to find without further input.