Since the day my first grade teacher handed me an assignment notebook (analog tablet, for all you teens reading), I’ve been hooked on planning my life.
Carefully penciling in daily activities, to-do lists, and passing thoughts … once I found time management, I never let go. Just ask the teetering pile of journals in my childhood bedroom.
While my nervous, scribbling little self may have been somewhat of a childhood oddity, it turns out my planning habits prepared me for 21st century adult life here in the United States.
You know the one — where we all hack our days, our time, and our sleep, in efforts to make every minute count. Squeeze in, optimize, achieve, repeat.
You’re out and about, doing a few errands, when suddenly, a brilliant idea for your next article/short story/poem/essay/thinkpiece/novel/uncategorizable work of genius hits you.
You’re breathless with delight and quickly scribble down a reminder to yourself — this one is not going to get away. People are going to LOVE reading this.
You are filled with enthusiasm, accidentally shoplifting a few groceries as you daydream about your subheadings and the exact angle you’ll take in the conclusion.
So far, so good.
However, as you come out of the shop, you run into a good friend, someone you admire and enjoy while also being secretly scared they might be a tiny bit better than you.
If there’s one thing we here at CYC know well, it’s the agony of writer’s block.
When you write for a living, your words are your moneymaker, but making them come out and play is not always easy, or possible. Sometimes, you’ll sit down at your keyboard, poised to make magic happen, and suddenly find that you’re down the rabbit hole of YouTube’s finest dog trick compilations.
What happened there?
Your creative juices just weren’t flowing, so you abandoned the empty document for the internet playground, in the false hope that distracting yourself would ‘spark something.’
We all crave it–– that mystical mindset, where the words pour out of our souls and splash onto the page in just the right order.
It’s a grand feeling that can become addicting once achieved.
I imagine Neil Gaiman feels it every time he sits down to write, if his muse doesn’t just scoot him out of the chair and write for him.
So, how do the rest of us get there? The flow state, that is.