Edit vs Flow

When starting out with any creative endeavor (whether it’s writing, designing, songwriting, etc) it can save a lot of time to be mindful of the difference between Edit and Flow states.

The more technical terms for these states of mind are divergent and convergent thinking.

When I first started writing I struggled with my inner critic. It kept shouting at me with all the doubts and fears and reasons why I should not be writing. (I still struggle with this a lot but I have learned how to suppress that voice).

I like how Rob Bell talks about this struggle. He says that he has built a “converter in his chest” that takes all of that negative energy and channels it into positive action, in his case writing.

All creative projects should start with this idea of positive action. This is also called the Flow state or divergent thinking. The possibilities are endless and the journey could take you down any number of roads.

In this phase it is important to get as many ideas out of your head and onto paper as you possibly can before the critic shows up. Sometimes these ideas come out so fast, you might even skip capitalization or punctuation (and that’s ok!).

After you’ve given yourself enough time to generate ideas, then it is time to enter the Edit phase. This is when you can begin to narrow down your final ideas through convergent thinking.

In the Edit phase it is time to unleash the inner critic and begin to refine and clarify your ideas.

Keeping the Edit and Flow states separate will help you increase your creative output because trying to do both at the same time will cause a bottleneck.