Flow in creativity is a process of exploration between what is known i.e. a rock and an exciting place, where you find yourself creating, being totally absorbed in what you are doing.
Csikszentmihalyi suggests that there are key factors that are needed to support this way of thinking and being:
- Completely involved in what we are doing – focused, concentrated.
- A sense of ecstasy – of being outside everyday reality.
- Great inner clarity – knowing what needs to be done, and how well we are doing.
- Knowing that the activity is doable – that skills are adequate to the task.
- A sense of serenity – no worries about oneself, and a feeling of growing beyond the boundaries of the ego.
- Timelessness – thoroughly focused on the present.
- Intrinsic motivation – whatever produces flow becomes its own reward.
I came across similar ways of thinking through such writers as Piotr Stzompka and Sarah Pink. They both write about the use of visuals in social research, Stzompka referring to it as a ‘Third Sociology’ what happens in society between structures and actions. I liken these to Flow, being ‘in-the-zone’ having focus, time in finding new ways to approach creativity and explore feelings in a safe space, to find or process new meanings.
I can attribute to what I experienced through my photography after the deaths of three family members within a period of four years, as being in a state of flow as a way of navigating my grief. I gave myself time to fall into a process of being, photographing and reflecting on the objects and memories I had from my family members. I had my skills as a photographer, someone who was bereaved, focus and time to connect through flow.
The one object that I felt most at Flow with was my Dad’s watch. I would spend hours photographing, filming, touching, wearing alongside my own smart watch, listening to the ticking, imagining, smelling the leather and old aftershave. I contemplated the passage of time us both living alongside one another in digital and analogue, the symbolism of death and ending when the ticking stopped like a heart beat, I knew it would happen one day, instigating another loss of something of him.
I chose not to replace the battery as it would not be ‘of him’, and think of it like Triggers Broom, if you’ve seen the Only Fools and Horses sketch of the well maintained Broom, he’s explaining he’s had the same broom for 20 years, but essentially is made up of a number of ‘new’ parts!
Have you been in flow when creating something?
If you want to join me on my journey through my PhD research; my focus is expanding towards creativity and how artists and others use creative expression as a way of navigating and exploring grief. You can always contact me, if you wish to be involved as a participant in my research.
I look forward to seeing your shares and stories with me through my Facebook page.