Sunday, November 06, 2011

Creative Flow, Productive Force

How to start this post? I have the same dilemma for most of the stuff I try to post here. I am walking outside in the city during night and then my mind flies onto things I consider interesting, making lengthy analyses that might or might not drive me anywhere and only a strong desire remains to dwelve more into my thoughts and maybe discover something unique, a secret recipe, a deep meaning, a solution to my problems, a hidden insight. And then I decide to return back home and evolve my rows of thoughts into something more structured, a blog post that might not bore you and mainly will feel to me like it has captured the essence of how I feel about things into the tiniest space possible (not so tiny at the end :P).

And look how I have started. I love the previous paragraph because it's weird. It's pure creative flow! And I purely enjoyed writting it. So, let's continue even if I'll change subject twice.

Random thoughts where floating around my head when I grasped one that sounded interesting or nice at the particular time. Then, sometimes I evolve this thought into a whole monologue of connected lists of similar thoughts and it's like hypertext where one item can drive you onto a whole different area as any other item and two different links lead to two different ideas that are high matter to you and you start thinking about the one while telling yourself to remember the other but you forget that one by taking only one route and you try to remember the important thing you just missed and I kind love/hate this effect because it's so weird/cool. I am writting in the silliest way again, without structure because I choose to be loose for this post.

But then again I can change to the main them, which is still not the one. Maybe later. Anyway, the second main thing, I come home, I have this network of similar thoughts with many unique and interesting nodes and say I can focus on two or three of them and encapsulate my thoughts into a solid structured piece of work (I am pretty creative with my vocabulary too right now, feels good or maybe geeky :). Usually I fail. Not as much as here though :)

Anyway, fact is I cannot start at first. This has to do with my other interesting matter about motivation and how to be productive. Problem is, I randomly left my mind thinking about interconnected stuff and now I'll have to restrict my creative flow and focus on producing a good piece of doc. I am greatful this is not yet a paper assignment or my final thesis, because it would be much more bad then. But even when I am writting as a hobby in this blog yet I want to not write entirely random things, I feel that pressure when I stop letting the flow drive me and I start trying to follow a specific plan.

And then I cannot write. At first. I just need a start up. If you start up with one or two sentences that start flowing among your thoughts then more things follow up. Till something distracts you or you start hating your writting. Anyway, so if I cannot find a start up, because the start up was really making a random thought that escalated into something more interesting while walking in the city, I start up by something like "As I was walking yesterday against the cold wind, blah, blah, blah". Quite poetic or lame? But I want to analyze the subject. Anyway, I bet some of my past blog posts have started like this but not many.

And the main thing I wanted to write about might start here, after five or six paragraph. Oh my gosh!

And the fun fact was that I wasn't walking on the city, I was just riding the bus home :). Anyway, as I was standing there inside the bus, I was worried about some thigns I have to do, some things I want to do and some other things I must do or would like to do. I thought about other people who seem to do things like robots without stop, without worries, without pushing things back or maybe I said they have found the flow. They either are robots or I miss the flow.

I thought about the flow. What do you feel about doing now. The force that drags you but it's not a force that you put to yourself against your will. But your will would be the flow. So, if I feel like doing nothing does it mean that I am dragged by the nothingness flow or that I lack of flow? Anyway,. the important thing is to find the GOOD flow.

It's like Mario Kart Wii. Yep, I am gonna drive you crazy now with my more free style post. I purely enjoy this. My fingers are living their own lives. Anyway, Mario Kart. One thing puzzled us while playing it. Sometimes it seems that the kart fows through a tunnel of air lines, I mean blurry line rendering like it's a warp drive, of course not so crazy, light lines like flows of air. And when this happens you gain something like a deus ex machina speed booster (what the hell am I writting here?), I mean you magically find these invisible speed warp points out of nowhere and wonder why you suddenly fly like a rocket (not the rocket bonus of course which is a sign of suckiness, aka being last in the game :).

Are these mario kart air warps at specific places? Do I have to take the next corner from a specific position or angle? Are they changing positions? They are always invisible, a mystery and yet sometimes you ride them and fly like a maniac! I love it when that happens. But when does it happen? How can I predict how to achieve that effect and keep riding inside the flow? How???

Well, concerning the game, I can just google it, silly me :P

But what about reality? This is what I am searching. I have a programming project or something I really want to do or something I have to do or wish to be done. You feel like you are stuck for no reason (now, this is like a negative invisible flow, no such things on Mario Kart I guess), trying to avoid what you have to do because you feel the negative force, lurking on the net or playing games to avoid responsibilities. And it happens even with the things that you love, the thing that are not supposed to be your responsibilities. And sometimes you get unstuck and while you spend five hours staring at the ceiling, the next two hours flow greatly, many things done, happiness for a little while, till another distraction or simply a different state of mind breaks you from the flow. That's a disaster but how can you drive initially or back through the flow?

This is what I was thinking about in the bus. I said about myself, today I might not even have a flow. Maybe a good flow. Or my flow is generally not doing work. That means, the flowline that drives me most is at the place where I am sitting there doing nothing or just thinking about things or writting more random words than these. There are no strong flowlines at demomaking for me or in my work or in my responsibilities. Everything pushes me back except from enjoying simple things these days. Is it so? Are there no flowlines where thing flow naturally in the steep corners of Mario Kart? Or have I not discovered them?

So, there is the other option. Let's start with a project that pushes me back, stare at it doing nothing, just sit there and think about it, don't push yourself but try to find a hidden flow. In the same way as in Mario Kart, is it in the center of the road or is it at a different angle? So, what is it? What are the variables? Push yourself? Pop yourself? Wait and sleep? Wake up and work? Day? Night? Music? Ambient? Your feelings actually. Try to feel what you feel and what you feel about what you feel about what you feel. Ok,. I am driving crazy here again because this is freestyle :P

So. Maybe I need meditation. Anyway, clear mind, stare at project blankly. Let it flow. If it doesn't, don't mind. You shouldn't mind. It's an interesting idea. Flow is an interesting idea. Why can't I find it? What sucked my energy?

So, the concept of productive force came too. I said I have the vice of creative flow. Work on something only at the moment you feel like so. If the next second you fail to see the point the don't work. You are an artist. You feel things. You feel like working, you feel like expressing yourself through something, at that particular moment. Or you don't. But how to convert this creative flow into something more productive? We people sometimes have to force ourself, against our will. Because usually we have to do something but we don't feel like doing it at that particular moment. Or tomorrow. Or any other day :P

But we are not robots. So there is the free creative flow that happens when it happens but if it does it's a bliss and there is the productive (brute I'd say) force where you have to push yourself when things are near. The whole blog post had to do with this interesting dichotomy and yet I spend something like ten paragraphs talking about my blog posting style and Mario Kart (nice analogies though :).

Now that is letting my creative flow just flow and not care about it. I think James told me once about that. I should try it more. Problem that remains is that there needs to be structure too. Hmm, dichotomy, creative flow is chaos, productive force leads to structure. Or not exactly (need more matching words, heh I feel the words and I love it). It still flows freestyle. But the point is (if I manage to ever put it in normal sentences) that you need the brute force, you need the structure to organize all these things that randomly flow and you love it, but make sense of it.

It's like my friend Sotsoft. I may be wrong but it's like everything that he says is pure creative flow with minimal productive force. Pure chaos, no structure. Whatever I remember I am happy as we say in greek :)

I struggle with structure. But I want structure. I am interesting in structure. But things flow. I want to make sense. To myself too.

So, is Productive Force having a bad meaning? I also thought about this: We people (artists) that are drawn by this creative flow will do fine with things that we want to do exactly that moment but not with most every day things and responsibilities where we just don't feel like doing at the moment. At the same time, maybe an anti-flow towards not doing these things that we don't feel like doing exists. So, we are more susceptible into HAVing to succumb into productive bruteforce methods like pushing us doing stuff without our will because we have to set things moving oneday and we can't just keep staring the ceiling forever.

Productive Force is not the word btw, it's a different sounding, not so negative. Maybe productive force is the same as creative flow. The force that makes you produce. The flow that makes you create. It's just that create has a more artistic feeling while production is preferred for an everyday responsibility or work. So, it could be similar, I forgot what I wanted to say here. So, let's say there is another force which is Productive Force which is a kind of flow where you do stuff even when you don't feel like doing it. Maybe it's overcoming your vices of always succumbing to the creative flow. I don't know cause I don't have it. I always have to do things with brute force.

So, it's more interesting than this and this text has become too random. The artist obsesion? Sometimes I think I have the characteristics of an artist. I say it's strange how I became a programmer and not a writer. Maybe they are not that far away from each other. But programming needs structure, heh? I lately love structre in my programms. I am doing this easier than real life, heh. Real life is much more complex :P

I let me think about the rest alone. Text I enjoyed and now I don't. But the two dichotomies are at the title. Hmm,..


nitro2k01 said...

Optimus, you write too long posts. Sorry to be so upfront about it. Although you do write something, unlike me for the most part.

What was that about? I'm writing this after only reading the first couple paragraphs of your posts, because I know how it might end. I've been through this process several times. First is the seed. This could be like you're saying an idea when I'm out walking or a commenting someone's blog. That's is fun. That's is creative flow.

Then comes the part that I call extension. Filling in all the things I had in my mind at first but now have almost forgotten. Maybe I can add another point about something. Maybe I need to explain this better because maybe someone reading this in the future doesn't understand what I'm saying. If I was originally writing a blog comment this is where I consider moving it to a post on my blog instead of a comment.

The last part is giving up. It feels like I'm writing words but only making the text harder and less interesting to read. So after proofreading my progress so far twice or thrice, I give and either delete the text or save it in a text file for later review.

I feel like I have a difficulty structuring my thoughts in a way that I can get them across in a good way to other people. Getting to the point. That's what I'm seeing in your texts as well. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy your texts, and I even often want to comment them (then the above happens) but it also feels like I almost need to prepare to read a new post.

Now I will read the rest of the post!

nitro2k01 said...

(After reading the whole post.)
So, we're more or less talking about the same thing, I think. Again, sorry for the criticism, but trying to judge things objectively as reader, that's what I feel. (This is another thing with me, btw, I always feel like I need to apologize for having an opinion about something.)

I've sometimes thought about a non-linear way of organizing a text, a little bit like you described. You have little boxes with one paragraph in each, then you have lines between the boxes where there are references between them. Normally there's an expectation that consecutive paragraphs should be directly related in some way. Maybe You could get away from that. But how do you design such a thing? Is it even possible to do without confusing the reader? I don't know. It's all about presentation. Maybe if I make a good system for this, I can make money and set a trend. Maybe all texts will be presented like this in the future and this will become the norm.

There's this saying that good artist is one who can do his best even when he doesn't feel like it. Maybe the way it works for some people is that the creative flow is just a practice run to create good ideas, and the productive flow is when you actually make something useful from it.

Sometimes I fiddle around in Photoshop to manipulate images, and I try make some details perfect. It's time-consuming sometimes. The distance between idea and product is long. Same thing with text I guess. If for nothing else because I'm not a very fast typer compared to some.

This is where I should have a conclusion, but I can't come up with a good one.

And lastly "Whatever I remember I am happy" <- Can you write this in Greek?

Optimus said...


It's interesting to read this long reaction. You are right about this text, it's one of the most clumsy, the most going nowhere, I have ever written. But at least I enjoyed it this time because I was in something like a trance writting.

But still it's not what I would like and sometimes I think about this, I could be a writer but I have a hard style, if I cared about having readers I would change it, adapt to the norm, but it doesn't happen at the moment. Maybe in the future I will think more about it.

Yes, the idea I had the conclusion, was that there is this creative flow that throughs randomly connected thoughts at you but one has to handle it somehow, to gather the good stuff and put them together in a compact and reader/user friendly way (either it's writting or a piece of software or whatever). That's where I am losing it.

Interesting enough, I am letting these days the creative flow to drive my programming projects. I write some code here and there and then do something else, I like to do experiments but putting stuff together to release a demo or anything is the hard part. But when I don't think about that then at least I can focus on programming and it makes me happy. Even if I don't release anything these days.

So, maybe I am driven by this random creating flow, but I have hard times to organize me into producing something more proper. Similar goes with writting, though I release the unorganized things in my mind this time without reformatting them and removing boring texts.

>"Whatever I remember I am happy"
Oti thymamai xairomai
Ότι θυμάμαι χαίρομαι

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