Lots of people know about flow state, particularly after Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book called Flow was published in 1990.
If you have ever felt completely immersed in an activity, you might have been experiencing a mental state that psychologists refer to as flow. It’s a wonderful feeling during which you know you’re being highly productive, time almost stops, and you’re really enjoying yourself, no matter what the activity is.
Think of a party you attended during which you looked at your watch and realized hours had passed when you thought it had only been about ten minutes. Or a time when you were immersed in a hobby that you love, painting perhaps, or doing a jigsaw puzzle, and time just flew by. Maybe as a jogger you hit that runner’s high and felt like you could run forever. These are all great examples of flow state.
Imagine if you could harness that powerful state and produce it at will? Whether you call it being in the flow, in the zone, or in the groove — the feeling is unmistakable and incredibly beneficial to you.
What does this have to do with book marketing and publicity?
Far too often I hear from people who are struggling to effectively promote their books. They want to do it. They have high aspirations to get tons of media. They have an important message to get out into the world. They love writing about it, but realize that promoting the book is an entirely different skillset from writing the book.
The first hurdle to jump in book publicity is having a plan and a strategy in place, but for the purposes of this Savvy Sunday News, we’re assuming that much is already done. The next hurdle is to actually put the plan into action by doing the tactics: each of the actions and steps that move you forward toward reaching the goal set out in your strategy. This hurdle also means sticking to the plan without getting distracted.
Two friends of mine, Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (the creators of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series), once said you should do five things every day to market and publicize your book. That sounds very doable, doesn’t it? But what if you find yourself cleaning out that closet instead? Or getting your taxes together, even though it’s nowhere near tax time.
When you’re feeling blocked, ask yourself this question:
How can I achieve a state of flow when working on the publicity and marketing of my book?
This is so much better than asking yourself any of the following questions:
- How am I ever going to get rid of this block?
- How can I possibly get the attention I want for my book?
- When am I going to get over these feelings of dread or unclarity or fogginess?
These questions are not helpful, and, in fact, can make things worse — but more on this in a moment.
Let’s pause and consider the opposite of flow: procrastination
Procrastinators rarely engage in their lives in a way that creates the experience of flow. Procrastinating is the avoidance of doing something that the mind believes is going to be painful. And what most don’t realize is that procrastination is actually a very active thing. You are doing something when you procrastinate. What if we could procrastinate on procrastinating?
So how do you stop procrastinating?
According to Steve Scott in his book How to Stop Procrastinating, he says:
- Take five minutes to list out the things “you were going to do tomorrow.”
- Look at your list and do one thing on it right now.
- Pick a time ( now) to work on the list.
- Quit trying to be perfect.
- If what you’re putting off involves other people, talk to them.
One or more of those items may work for you, but keep in mind that people are radically different. You’ll want to experiment and see what works best for you. .
Here are some of my favorite ways to fight procrastination and try to get into a flow state:
- What can I do now that when I look at the results tomorrow, I’m going to feel really, really good that I did it?
- How can I help my future-self today?
- If I were a non-procrastinator, or if I were like so-and-so (picture someone you know who never procrastinates) what would I do right now?
Watch your self talk
What are you saying to yourself? Are you saying things like, “This is easy and I’m just going to quickly do it, and not worry at all!” Or are you making it a big deal by saying how hard it’s going to be and how much you’d rather be watching your favorite show on Netflix?
Once you can get a handle on procrastination and start to get into the things you need to get done, you are one step closer to tapping into flow state at will.
Here are ten steps to achieving and benefiting from flow as you work on your book publicity:
- Consider the important message in your book and how others will benefit from it.
- Remember a time when you were already in flow state. Bring up those wonderful. feelings and spin them in your body.
- Choose a task for your book publicity and marketing.
- Think of that activity and continue to feel the feelings when you imagined a time when you were in flow state. Merge them together.
- Make a decision that this is what you’re going to do for the next period of time and focus.
- Make sure it’s challenging, but not too hard.
- Clear away distractions. Ignore any distracting thoughts that may come up.
- Learn to focus on that task and enjoy yourself!
- Keep practicing.
- Create some kind of anchor or ritual that tells your mind, body, and spirit that it’s time to go into flow state.
Practice and repetition
Flow state isn’t some pie-in-the-sky experience that only happens occasionally out of the blue. It is a state you can learn to create on a regular basis with some practice and repetition.
Making positive changes in your life doesn’t always have to be about losing weight and quitting smoking. How can I get into flow state and be more creative today? How can I learn to be faster? How can I understand what I’m learning more quickly? How can I tap into flow whenever I want to? How can I get smarter today?
Sometimes a focusing or creative visualization session with someone else can help you with this. When someone else gives you the directions, you can just relax, create the experience internally, and enjoy learning all about the flow state — and then use it when it’s time to actively promote your book.
To your success!
P.S. Some of my favorite music for slipping into flow state is here.
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