The last thing I remember is that I was in front of my computer screen, with the task of writing up the next chapter of the novel I am working on. I had an update promised for the next evening, a plot line scribbled in the worn out pink journal, and a cup of steaming hot tea set aside – I prefer it a bit lukewarm.
I referred to the notes, glanced at the watch on my left wrist, reading 5:07 PM, and turned on the compiled playlist of instrumental music by Thomas Frank on YouTube. With a vague sense of direction in my mind, I begin to type.
After that, there is a blank phase in my memory as the music blurs out the world to me. The words flow and my fingers dance on the keyboard like navigating a well-worn path.
For me, minutes have passed, and the words have flown.
The incessant vibration of my silent phone or the beckoning of my mother and sister make no sense. I do not even remember them calling me, but they assure me that they have, and the three missed calls on my phone are not lying either.
I glance at the wristwatch once again and it is 8:39 PM, time for dinner and I have been writing for a while now, the tea tastes horrible, cold on my tongue, and missed my 6 PM gym class, probably the reason why I have three missed calls from my gym buddy.
After dinner, I check the written matter, which had taken an entirely different direction than the decided plot, making changes that I would have not imagined. The characters were functioning within their characteristics but then again, I would have never thought them making that step.
I am at a loss. I like the changes. I love the dialogues. In reality, I don’t think myself capable of writing something like that down.
“Because, you were just a celeb-crush, and I was just another fangirl and it seems the perfect love story at a glance, but when you really look at it, celebs don’t need fangirls, they need someone giving them normalcy and usual happiness of life. And fangirls need that guy who makes reality worth living.”
It was silly, it was romantic, it was entirely like a giggly teen I don’t ever remember being in my high school years. It was like I was not the one writing, but actually, the words were flowing from me. After that, reading my own work was like reading a novel for the first time. It was simply strange.
The story begins to write itself, and the characters tell me what they need to do, no longer bound by the plotline I had in mind for them. They seem more real, and more human. After all, isn’t it the most human characteristic not to listen to rules?
My phone rings and it is my friend, I empty my awe to him. And get an amused reply, “You’re high on writing!”
“How would you even know?” I grumble.
Of course, that led to him telling me about his hostel shenanigans and experiments with drugs. But it got me thinking.
Can you get high on writing?
Can you get high on things you love to do?
Getting high is often described as an unfeeling feeling of ecstatics when the world blurs and fades into the background, what remains is you and your thoughts. Everything is new – like you are seeing it for the first time, and the ideas that come to you are beyond your imagination.
I haven’t gotten high in life. Never got near drugs, alcohol, or anything remotely similar. But I could relate to every description of getting high because I felt like that when I am writing.
Was there a particular ritual I followed to achieve that? No, not really, apart from some music playing in the background, Ed Sheeran’s voice shading with a bit of Adele’s, and a distinct plot in mind, where I personify myself as the characters and try to go into their mind.
I went to the internet to find whether anyone else felt the same way as I did.
I found out that what I felt, the rush feeling of being high had a term called “flow”.
Named by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, the concept has been widely referenced across a variety of fields (and has an especially big recognition in occupational therapy), though the concept has existed for thousands of years under other guises, notably in some Eastern religions. Achieving flow is often colloquially referred to as being in the zone.
Defined as a single-minded immersion, there are actually scales of measurement for the flow state! For example, there is Flow Questionnaire, Experience Sampling Method, and various standardized scales.
As an established psychological phenomenon, the flow has applications in music, singing, dancing, writing, education, religion and spirituality and even in computer programming. The scientists are trying to relate neuroscience and the flow at its best under the Genome Project, as they are trying to change the states into traits.
The thing you are passionate about can be transformed into the flow state… I think Jason Silva’s video about the flow describes it the best.
A 2-minute video, seemingly flighty, but if you have experienced something like the flow, it is bound to give you goosebumps.
The only things that remain in this world are you and the thing you are passionate about remains, and that is true happiness.