What is creative flow?

From my sketchbook. I drew this on a long car ride with pen and watercolor pencils. I was inspired by an illustration I found on Bechance by Maaike Bakker. Click on his name to see his work, it's pretty inspiring if you like sea monsters!

Sometimes when I talk to my artist friends we joke that our clients think we have a magic wand that we can wave and create with. It’s definitely just a joke, I have no such thing, but to be honest there is something a little magical about the creative process. Realistically and for those who don’t believe in magic, it’s a purely physiological process. 

The process I’m talking about here is called flow. Creative flow. It’s a real state of mind. One that when achieved allows me or you or who ever is experiencing it to almost freeze time and speed up creative productivity. When it happens at least for me, the rest of the world falls away. I hear nothing. I’m in a different place. It’s like being in a creative trance.

How does this happen?

According to an article I found on psychology today, the state of creative flow occurs as a result of a temporary deactivation of the prefrontal cortex. This is called transient hypofrontality. The prefrontal cortex is where our voice of reason, our critical and impulse controlling self is housed. With our reasonable side temporarily shut out, our brain then releases a chemical cocktail flooding the brain with large quantities of norepinephrine, dopamine, endorphins, anandamide, and serotonin. There’s more to it, but in short, that’s what happens when people achieve creative flow. For me, it doesn’t happen all the time. It’s a once or twice a month kind of thing depending on what I’m working on and how inspired I am. I noticed that I’m more creative after a long run, probably because it jump starts that creative chemical cocktail.

What about you? What triggers your creative flow?



Affiliate Disclosure: I love sharing what I do and the products I love. In order to do this, please note that when you click links and purchase items, in some (not all) cases I will receive a referral commission. Your support in purchasing through these links enables me to keep making art and sharing my progress and knowledge with the world. Thank you! -Jackie