A working writer does a lot more than just write. Every Monday morning is spent on accounting. At least a third of my time is spent editing, which is arguably a subset of writing, but it’s not adding words to a manuscript. Marketing is something I need to spend more time on, so I can squeeze more value out of things I’ve already written. As a solo operation, I have to do layout and graphics. Even if I outsourced those, there would be meetings to discuss what I wanted, and to approve what was handed back to me. My favorite part of work remains the writing, and more specifically, writing when I’m able to get into a flow state.
Streamlined Elements of Work
To get into a flow state, I’ve needed to streamline my process. I need a comfortable work station, and a quiet space. This is why my excursions to the library or coffee shop usually entail doing tasks other than writing. Outlining, maybe, or research. It’s hard to get into a flow state when there are unpredictable interruptions. I also can’t lose myself in the work when I’m self-conscious, and I’m always self-conscious in public.
I need to have a cup of coffee, a glass of water, and a small snack like a protein bar. Before I start, I go to the bathroom, stretch, and meditate for a few minutes. That was I won’t have to get up, and everything I might need is within reach. Working from an outline means I know what I’m going to write. Doing research ahead of time means that details are in my head, or at least in my notes. I have created conditions where, when it’s time to sit down and write, I can just write.
Creative Elements of Work
When I can get into a flow state I not only enjoy doing the work more, but I feel the work is better. When I go back through to edit, I enjoy reading it. That’s huge. There are generally fewer typos, and less material to polish and rewrite. The more focused I am, the better the technical quality of the work. That’s not the same as being more creative, though.
It’s hard to describe, but a flow state allows me to concentrate on the purity of what the thing I’m writing is. The more I can just commune with the piece, the more ideas I have on how to make it better. I can “see” what needs to be added, and what should be left out. It’s like I’m able to turn it up to 11. That doesn’t mean that everything I create is brilliant, but I feel that it’s the best that I’m able to make it, and that’s satisfying.
Meditative Elements of Work
Work doesn’t feel like work when I can get into a flow state. It’s relaxing. The meditative state allows my chronic pain to fade into the background. It’s one of the reasons that I can be relatively prolific even when I’m not feeling well. Writing can actually help me to manage my pain, quell my anxiety, and keep my depression from taking over.
That doesn’t mean that it always works. When my issues are flaring up, it makes it harder to get into a flow state. It becomes more difficult to maintain it. But when I can get it to catch, it helps. The effects will last long after I’ve stopped writing, gotten out of the flow state, and fallen back into the “real world”. It’s always worth trying.
My Favorite Part of Work
I have nothing but gratitude that I can do this for a living. At this point in my life, I don’t know that I could do anything else. To be able to do something that I love, and to do it in a way that is both energizing and healing is an amazing thing. I never would have dreamed that something like this was possible. Now I just need to continue working at it, and getting better at it.