When I have heard of flow before, I have usually heard it referenced to sports. When I played football in high school there was a rhythm I could get into as an athlete. There was a focused zone where training became instinct. The sounds of the world quieted to breaths and heartbeats and a whistle was the only semi reprieve to reality.
I also was a musician in high school and in college. When jamming with my friends or a band there was a place I could go mentally that blocked out everything but the sound of the music. I would visualize notes as guiding steps for my voice and guitar.
However, the greatest zone I would get into was from drawing. I love to draw. As an illustrator I could disappear in my drawings for hours. Honestly, I would lose sense of time. Eating and sleeping can become unimportant if I really get into a “flow” moment. It was funny because to get in a zone, I would usually begin playing music that would get louder and louder, but then my wife would interrupt me for a phone call or dinner, and she would joke about how loud the music was. I wouldn’t even notice the music until she got my attention. It was like somebody cranked the dial zero to “11” the second she walked into the room and tapped me on the shoulder. This is because the music’s sound would disappear the further I delved into the world or character I was trying to create. We joke about it often because I am very ADD otherwise.
I think it helps to be in a quiet environment initially free from distraction. That is why my studio doesn’t have a television and when I draw I stay away from the computer. Usually, my reference is already printed. If I am working digitally I make a concerted effort not to go to web as much as possible. My music starts off low, but I have specific playlists that I know that will help me concentrate my focus. These are songs that I have selected either for that specific project or I know have sparked creativity in me before. There is no greater rush than being in the zone…and seeing what can happen. It is like waking from an adventurous dream to see as if by magic you grabbed souvenir in the form of your art.