Although my writing has been productive, I haven’t felt that magic, spark, or what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls Flow (Amazon). I used to be able to do a podcast each day. Now I’m, as the kids say, “just not feeling it.”
Fortunately, I know how to diagnose the problem. Chances are you have had a similar problem, even though you work in an entirely different field.
If you have hit a roadblock in your life, you need to do something simple.
“I’m a good shooter, but when I shoot poorly, I go back to the basics.” – Army Ranger firearms instructor.
I know what puts me into flow, and I haven’t been doing it.
For me, the recipe for massive productivity is simple.
- Two to four hours alone.
- Headphones on.
- Empty stomach.
- House Music (Rony Seikaly mixes are nice) playing.
When not working:
- Hard cardio (heart rate to 190 if possible).
- Sweat profusely.
- Sauna/steam room and/or contrast showers.
- Do not weigh more than 210 pounds.
- Wander around/walk alone.
(I like to bring myself close to death.)
Due to various changes in my life, I haven’t had enough time alone. My brain hasn’t been given the freedom it needs to run wild.
I also neglected to do cardio and got fat while some injuries healed.
I unconsciously put an artificial constraint on my creativity.
Would you believe me if I told you money is making me less creative? Well, it has!
The Juice Power books are selling nicely and should continue selling well. This should be great news, shouldn’t it?
Before writing I have started to think, “How will this post make me money?” I did not want to write or podcast unless that post or podcast would make me money.
Don’t get me wrong. Keep buying the juicing ebooks. They are great and I shook myself out of it.
Monetizing Danger & Play has reminded me to focus on my mindset, which is that I write whatever the fuck I want to write whether it makes me money or not.
If a post makes me money, great!
If a post makes you butt hurt, you stop reading, and the post costs me money, great!
Ultimately I do Danger & Play for me. Whatever happens, happens.
(“No remorse, no apologies, no regrets.”)
You can’t skip the basics.
“We’ll begin with the basics – the fundamentals. Trust me on this, now and for the rest of your Ranger careers, it will always be about the fundamentals – always. Refinements, yes, but always the fundamentals.” – Sua Sponte: The Forging of a Modern American Ranger
We live in an instant gratification world. Life hackers tell you how to learn a foreign language and make millions of dollars in 4 hours a week!
Yet that is a lie. Even the life hackers selling you on easy money work brutally long hours.
You can’t become a master until you’ve mastered the basics.
“Accident is ignorance, intention is style.” – Phil Williams.
My high school English teacher would penalize students for bad grammar. One of the “monster errors” (comma splices, run-on sentence, subject-verb disagreement) would turn an “A” paper into a “C.”
When students would complain, he would say, “You may use run-on sentences all you like. But if you accidentally use a run-on sentence, it’s a monster error.”
His point – which has stuck with me – is that rules matter when you are beginning any new endeavor. Do not begin a sentence with “And” until you understand what and is and how and is used.
“Accident is intention, intention is style,” is a monster error known as the comma splice. But sometimes separating two independent clauses with a comma works better than separating those clauses with a period.
Indeed, Winston Churchill was a master at breaking rules of grammar, only because he knew them so damned well.
We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be.
I don’t know what your profession is, so I can’t tell you how to master it.
I can give you the mindset tools you need.
First you need to make the Gorilla Mindset shift. No shortcuts. No life hacks. No easy way out.
Second you need to discover what puts you in peak flow.
Start living an intentional life.
There is a way for you to reach flow, to become a stylist at life.
Don’t judge why something puts you into peak flow or not. For example, I have sometimes watched porn before writing. When I’m especially horny it doesn’t help to have a raging hard-on while working. Even though porn is a filthy habit, sometimes it’s a tool to give you a necessary release.
If watching porn or doing [insert “bad” habit] puts you into flow, why judge it?
Experiment. Jump rope, do jumping jacks, take a long walk, scream in an empty room, take a cold shower. I don’t know what works for you, but there is something you can do that will work for you. I promise you that.
Maybe you felt especially awesome or on-point one day. That was an accident borne out of ignorance. Turn that accident into style.
Think about a time you felt unstoppable.
- Who were you with?
- What were you doing?
- When did you feel amazing?
- Where were you?
- Why did you reach flow?
You may even want to look into self-hypnosis. For example, I use this hypnotic pattern to improve my reading comprehension:
Notice the paper. What color is it? Notice how clean and crisp it seems. Fingers slide over the surface, and feel how smooth. Eyes can flow across the page, going easily from side to side, seeing everything.
Notice the letters on the page. They seem dark and distinct. The round parts of the O’s and C’s are very smooth; the up and down parts of the T’s and L’s are tall and strong.
The printing is especially vivid. The words seem to stand out very clearly.
Handbook of Hypnotic Suggestions and Metaphors (Amazon).
Master the basics. Find your flow.
Have you mastered the basics?
What puts you in flow?