Merlin Mann over at 43 Folders has done an interesting analysis of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s ideas of how creativity works. The theory is that creative work gets done best in a seemingly paradoxical cycle of laser focused activity, and lazy idea gathering, idling and re-charging. In essence, creative people combine playfulness and discipline, or responsibility and irresponsibility.

Mann breaks it down:

Most all makers with longevity talk about a process that involves regular, scheduled work periods that allow generous time for warmups and getting into what Csikszentmihalyi himself has called, “Flow.” For as long as he or she can stay in that Flow state, a good artist is capable of synthesizing unbelievably disparate material and ideas in a way that’s often satisfying and productive. For those who cannot, it means another morning of video games, Facebook, and binge eating.

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