About Rowena

Hello, my name is Ro, and I believe that it is possible for you to turn your ordinary life into an extraordinary life - to find true happiness, while remaining, selfless, mindful and compassionate towards other living beings. Here at my blog, I interview and post articles by musicians, writers, world travelers, humanitarians and other amazing individuals who are doing just that. I also share with you various anecdotes about my own totally awesome existence as a musician, composer, journalist, environmentalist, and compassionati. My hope is to connect with you, enlighten you, inspire you and lead you down the path to true happiness. Compassion is always in fashion and it starts with you loving that most important of people, yourself.

November 16, 2010

Achieving Creative Flow - Finding Your Own Witching Hour

 In order to be open to creativity, one must have the capacity for contructive use of solitude. One must overcome the fear of being alone.

It is 3:47 a.m. as I am writing this.  I almost always wake up at about 3:15 a.m., for no particular reason.  I jokingly refer to it as the witching hour, the time when supernatural beings such as demons, witches and ghosts are thought to be at their most powerful - because this time is so magical - so powerful to me.    

Sometimes gentle breathing exercises will send me back to dreamland, other times I lay awake just thinking – peaceful thoughts, happy thoughts, often my most creative thoughts – I never allow anything worrisome to enter my mind during the witching hour.  These are the moments when I frequently achieve my greatest level of creative flow, notwithstanding whether I even get up out of bed or not.   I may have an idea for this blog, or I may have an idea for a particular song that I am working on going through my head.   I write a lot of songs and stories that way – in my bed head.  Sometimes I go out to the studio and record a riff, or I get up and go to my computer to write for awhile.  Sometimes I just lie there thinking, committing it all to memory.  The mind is a miraculous thing – especially when you achieve flow, and the mind is also the perfect minimalist workspace as long as you keep it clutter free.    

What is flow?

Flow is when you are so consumed with what you are doing that you completely lose track of time, everyone and everything around you, while doing what you are doing.   I achieve my greatest flow when I am happily, contentedly, pursuing my passions and so entrenched in that perfect minimalist workspace known as my brain, that the rest of the world simply fades away.

How does one achieve flow?

Pursue your Passion.   Nothing creates flow better than doing something that you love to do.   My passions are music and writing and I can easily get caught up in them for hours at a time to forever.  Not sure what your passion is?  Get out and explore!   Think about what really excites you.    I also recommend that you check out Leo Babauta of Zen Habits blog post The Short But Powerful Guide to Finding Your Passion.
You need a quiet place to work with no distractions.  I love these quiet golden moments in the wee hours of the morning, when all is soft stillness, when it comes to achieving flow.   I’m even wondering if the reason I often wake up at this time is because my creative subconscious knows that it is the perfect time to work, undisturbed.  No television blaring in a distant room, no telephones ringing, no one knocking at the door, no particular place that I need to be.   No human voices interrupting my thoughts either.  Especially, no one asking when I will be done with the computer.   Ha ha!  For the same reasons, I like to write on Saturday and Sunday mornings, while my husband and daughter are sleeping in – allowing me a four to five hour window of time before things start hopping around here.   Those are also times that I get so caught up in the flow that I don’t even realize that they have gotten up eventually, and are moving about, respectfully allowing me to continue to work in peace, until I look at the clock and realize that the day is quickly passing by, or my husband gently reminds me we had plans to do whatever.

You need a place to work that is clutter free.  Personally, I find it difficult to concentrate if my desk is covered with all kinds of stuff, or if sheet music and equipment, and beer bottles are scattered all over the studio, or I can't find my headphones.  The only items on my desk right now besides my computer are my cup of coffee, and a picture of my kitty cats, and I don't think there is anything more pristine on the face of this earth than Quail Studios - thank goodness my husband and I agree on these kind of things.   If you don't  know where to start when decluttering your work space, there are some great articles on Everett Bogue's blog Far Beyond the Stars.  Or go a step further, and consider purchasing some of the great books by Everett Bogue, Tammy Strobel,, Joshua Becker, Leo Babauta, and others listed in the upper right sidebar of my blog under the picture of me playing piano, where it says "books you might want to check out.".  I recommend them for good reason.   I most recently read and found extremely helpful, Leo Babauta's  The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life and Zen Habits for Life, as well as Joshua Becker's Becoming Minimalist and Inside Out Simplicity.

You need focus.   Disconnect, disconnect, disconnect!    Get off the internet – this is not the time to be checking your e-mail, or to have some pop up bar telling you your Farmville crops are ready to be harvested (unless Farmville is your passion, in which case I suggest you expand on that passion and try growing a real vegetable garden).   Turn off your cell phone – you don’t need to be tweeting, or to have your Blue Tooth stuck in your ear, unless you are waiting for your kid to call to pick them up from the movies, in which case this might not be the best time for you to try to focus – not if junior is going to be standing on a sidewalk somewhere waiting for you and you are stressing over it.

Be patient with yourself.   Achieving flow takes practice.  I am great at achieving flow when it comes to my passions.   I have become so practiced at achieving flow that I can now achieve it while doing other very important, albeit less exciting tasks requiring my concentration such as my income tax return (yuk).

Be good to yourself.  Take the time to seek out your passions and pursue them wholeheartedly – you deserve it.   Find yourself that quiet place and time to work without distractions.  If you don’t have the time, reduce your commitments and disconnect so you can focus – the world can and will continue to exist without you being available for every living breathing moment of your life.  Life used to be that way before the internet and the telephone, didn't it?   You don’t have to say yes to everything that everyone asks you to do either.   Over committing leaves no time for you to set aside to pursue your passions and find flow.  I have a little secret for you too, you don't have to agree to everything just so that people will like you.   Having trouble saying no?   The following blog post by by Tammy Strobel of Rowdy Kittens, "How to Say No Gracefully" will be of help to you.    Most of all be patient with yourself.   Flow comes easier to some people than others, but with practice you will find it.  

And then my friend, you are going to feel so incredibly good inside, much as I feel awesome right now for having written this blog post, this morning, between the hours of 3:47 and 5:41 a.m., with this delicious cup of coffee beside me, with my dog asleep at my feet, and my beloved husband and darling daughter, dreaming away at the other end of the house.  

Now go on out dear friends, and find your passions, work on finding that creative flow, and above all know that I love you and want you all to live your extraordinary lives!

Ro's Notes:

When it comes to minimalism and simplifying your life, I would like to point out again that there are some great e-books listed in the top of my right sidebar of my blog (e-books don't cause any clutter), under the picture of me playing the piano, where it says "books you might want to check out."  As an added incentive, dear old Ro gets a 50% commission if you buy them, which helps to support this blog.


Josephine said...

I always enjoy your topics, your humor and candidness. You make it abundantly easy for the reader to grasp and process.

Josephine Elle

Ro said...

Thanks Jose! That means a lot to me!

FB @ FabulouslyBroke.com said...

I think another thing that works is to write down every and any thought you have so you take it out of your brain and stop thinking about it.

Ro said...

Great idea, thanks for sharing! A large part of uncluttering is uncluttering your mind as well.