I am not going to be giving you the formula for being productive in your writing. There is no magical formula of: minds-on activity + music = instant innovation. Most importantly, if anyone offers to sell you such a recipe, don’t offer up your money. The only solution that person is offering is how to grow their own bank account. Achieving flow is a matter of practice, determination, and constant revision.
No one else is going to know you well enough to tell you about your set-up. What mixture of on-task / off-task, workouts, or research is going to work. Even down to the time of day is an individual choice. As a result, some of us will find a pattern and path that works for us and stick to it for decades. Others will continuously evaluate, struggle, and reassess. In the end, there is no one way, no right way, to be creative.
There is, however, a right way for you. Consequently, that’s the part that takes practice. And much like an athlete preparing for competition, we need to constantly be evaluating our routines, looking for those tools that help and those that hold us back. A sprinter doesn’t just train at running fast, they work on their starts, acceleration, distance, footwork; they practise all the elements that make them better. We have to be able to break down or own practice in similar ways and be just as analytical with it.
However, that also requires determination. For example, while we can’t be perfect at this all the time, we have to hold ourselves to rigid training standards. Creativity is not divinely inspired; it comes from our will refusing to be silenced. The time we give ourselves to practice helps to enhance and hone our craft. Certainly, distractions will happen, but it is our determination that will keep us on track.
Finally, achieving flow means we need to be honest in our personal reflections. Our practice cannot grow or improve if we are unwilling to look at those skills that are lacking, or where we can improve. Sprinters cannot lie to themselves about how quickly they ran the one-hundred metres, and we shouldn’t lie to ourselves about our strengths or weaknesses. Likewise we need to write, produce, assess practice, and repeat.
In short, understand that achieving flow is not mythical, it is a grueling and rewarding struggle with our creative selves.