Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Flow & The Dangers of Writing

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

A funny thing happened recently while I was driving a race car at about 170 MPH, and it was all about flow. As I arced the car through a turn, the sticky slick tires at their limit of grip, the g-forces forcing me to grit my teeth, running just inches from two other cars, a thought popped into my head: this is like writing.

Huh?

Yeah, driving a race car at the limit is like writing. Okay, writing is safer. I’ll give you that. Well, unless you poke yourself in the eye with a pen, get a paper cut or stub a finger on the keyboard. Or you’re writing while racing. That’s just crazy dangerous.

When I’m writing at my best (it could happen!), I don’t think. It just happens. It flows.

When I’m racing at my best, I don’t think. It just happens. It flows.

When I try really, really hard to write something, I get the same results I do when I try really, really hard to drive fast: garbage. The harder I try, the worse it gets. The more I relax and let it happen, the better my performance – racing, writing or whatever.

The challenge is trusting myself. It’s trusting that if I let go and don’t try that the results will come.

I’ve even asked myself, “If I can’t trust myself, how can I expect anyone else to trust me?” That thought usually triggers something. And that something is nothing. Does that make sense? The nothing is me trusting myself to not try, to just let it happen. It’s not getting in the way of a great performance.

Great performance comes from knowing when to push, to try, to work at it… and when to let go, to trust yourself that it will happen, to let it happen, to let it flow.

Have you ever observed someone trying too hard? Trying to impress others? Have you ever done that yourself? I have. Often it’s a lack of self-confidence that drives this behavior. But, when I’ve just said to myself, “Stop – trust yourself. You’ve got nothing to prove that trying harder is going to help. Relax” I begin to let go of focusing on what others will think and… I don’t think.

“Economy of movement” is a term that 3-time World Driving Champion, Jackie Stewart used to describe driving a race car. “The less you do, the faster you’ll be” is how I describe it. Simplicity and efficiency is key to driving a race car fast.

When commenting about a long letter he’d written, Mark Twain said, “I could have written a shorter version, but I didn’t have time.” Simplicity and efficiency. Great writing requires few words. ‘Nuff said.

Great performance is also about simplicity and efficiency. About letting go, about not thinking, about letting it just happen, about being in the flow.

Racing or writing or whatever.

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