June 26, 2018

Getting in the Zone

By Gary Fearon

This weekend, the Mega Millions jackpot got up to 192 million dollars. As of this writing, no winner has been announced, but whenever the lottery rises to such an astronomical figure, this question gets passed around:

"What would you do if you won the lottery?"

I find it encouraging that whenever writers are asked that question, some of the first words out of their mouths are along the lines of, "I would write!" The luxury of having all the time in the world to indulge in their passion is every true writer's desire.

Certainly, paying off bills and traveling the globe get mentioned too, but the allure of writing to one's heart's content is the part of that fantasy that evokes the most enthusiasm. The windfall itself is merely a means to an end of getting to live the writer's life.

There's nothing surprising about the appeal of doing what we love. But we have all experienced that special joy known as being "in the zone". Everything is clicking, we're firing on all cylinders, and we lose ourselves in our creative expression to the point where we're skipping meals and wondering how it got to be three in the morning.

Some call this equivalent of the runner's high "the flow state", because inspiration flows effortlessly. How fitting that inspiration literally means to be filled with spirit.

This heightened level of performance can be practiced and mastered using several techniques, including these three time-tested methods:

Be present
Fully engage in what you're doing, moment by moment. Thoughts and anticipation about the final outcome, while fine motivations, are in the future. What you have control over is right now. Connect with the joy that is the journey.

Add a new element
A task that has become too familiar and routine invites boredom. By the same token, we are easily overwhelmed by too many new things at once. Approach each writing session by adding one small challenge that will stimulate growth.

Eliminate negativity
Negativity is the enemy of creativity, says David Lynch. Remove negative suggestions and influences, especially the worst crippler of all, self-doubt. Each creative session is a time for you to experiment free from fear and criticism.

Miles Davis had the right attitude, a mindset that helped him conjure the zone on cue. "I'm always thinking about creating. My future starts when I wake up every morning ... Every day I find something creative to do with my life."

The odds of winning the Mega Millions are an unlikely 1 in 302,575.350. But the thrill of being in the zone can feel like winning the lottery. I hope you hit the jackpot every time you sit down to write.

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