Social Question

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

When you're creating something, artistically, do you enter into an "artist trance"?

Asked by JeanPaulSartre (5774 points ) February 16th, 2010

I find that when I’m writing song lyrics, or music, that I sort of space out, perhaps using something unconscious, until I’m finished. I almost always have to go back with a more logical eye and finish/fix a few things, but the majority of my creative force seems to come when I’m in some sort of “artist trance.” Has anyone else experienced this in their forays into the arts?

Hmm…

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

62 Answers

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

YES!That is the best feeling and I look forward to it everytime I paint,sculpt,throw pots,draw…ah choices!Love it:))

MissAnthrope's avatar

Yeah, definitely. My best works are when I’m not thinking too much about it (not trying to create), just letting my subconscious or whatever it is lead the way. Pot and/or LSD is great for this. ;)

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@MissAnthrope -I never tried to create art with a buzz.I should hammer back a few beers and see what I can see!Very inspiring;)

ucme's avatar

Not a trance but I do put my heart & soul into what i’m doing.My undivided attention will not waver until i’m through.

mzehnich's avatar

Yes, if I am “getting into” what I am creating, and not being distracted, I will often enter the artist’s trance.

This “trance” is apparently because of shifts in the use of our brain hemispheres. As you probably know, the left hemisphere of our brain is more about logic and factual data, whereas the right hemisphere is about creativity and visualization rather than raw data. For the majority of our lives we rely on our left hemisphere as it is responsible for every-day things like communication. However, when we begin doing creative activities, we will slowly shift into a different “brain mode” and use our right hemisphere. This is also why sometimes after coming down from a “trance”, if you are interrupted by a phone call or someone entering the room, you may find it difficult to converse with them or even articulate sentences.

The more often you enter the artist trance, the easier it becomes; some very experienced artists claim to have the ability to do this at will. It is certainly a very useful “tool” as your best and most efficient work will most certainly be produced when you are in the proper brain mode. Some ways I have found to reset my brain or help enter the trance when I find I have artist’s block is closing my eyes and listening to music (lyric-less or music in a language I don’t understand helps – celtic sung in Gaelic for example), taking a shower, or simply going for a walk.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@mzehnich Very interesting… So this is similar, do you think, to sight reading music, or does that open a whole other set of brain activity?

SeventhSense's avatar

Yes I always enjoyed the trance but I haven’t painted for a long time. It’s a timeless state where the rules of existence are suspended. It’s the moment..the now.. I should start again just for that state. Maybe I need to go back in. Once you’re away for awhile it becomes hard to go back or frightening, self indulgent or something. I still have a love/hate relationship with it for some reason. It all seems pointless when I think about it too much. Maybe I need to abandon any aim at all and just do it. I think that’s when I become frightened. But it’s also when I’ve done some of my most powerful work.

KhiaKarma's avatar

I often don’t really know what I have painted until after I pause and re-evaluate. I sometimes feel strange when people ask about how I made certain choices, and honestly, I usually can’t really say cause it’s all just a part of what I was doing in the moment. I think that is one reason why it is so meditative for me. I get to step outside of myself for a bit.

rovdog's avatar

Sometimes when I’m writing I approach this. I started to feel the keyboard and the process of writing to be hindering that “trace” or the flow of my thoughts- I get frustrated because the instruments seem to get in the way of the creative process. I think while doing improv way back and simply reacting and speaking I could grow closer to this state.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@rovdog So true – I can’t write at the keyboard much at all.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@rovdog I’ve heard some people will dictate then transcribe later instead.

Cruiser's avatar

I play guitar as my main form of art expression and at times it can be an effortless excursion to the inner recesses of my mind. Just a free flow of raw emotions that feel as if the guitar is playing itself. That is nirvana for me.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@SeventhSense -Just do it!:)))I’ll motivate you!

Trillian's avatar

I sometimes go into what i think of as “right brain” mode. Yeah, now that you mention it, I do kind of trance out.

mzehnich's avatar

@JeanPaulSartre – From what I’ve read, constant activity use will create what some people call “brain modes” for various activities. Driving a car, for example, is actually a very complex set of actions and requires a great deal of focus, however once we get used to driving it becomes an almost boring chore. Our brain becomes so used to the set of activities that it immediately enters a “driving mode”, and “loads” a set of familiar traits that we use while driving.

Another example I have read about is people who speak in public often, who will start off reading from a card for a few sentences but then start improvising their speech and it will become just as effective if not more effective than what they had written down on the cards.

So I do think it’s similar to anything that we can convert into a habit as we will create a “mode” for that habit. It definitely seems most apparent when involved in purely creativity-based activities though.

rovdog's avatar

@JPS Yeah… I know I tried that once. I really need to start dictating. The thing is that I write screenplays so I kind of need the form to happen for me and it’s a pain to transcribe later. I would have to speak the characters name and then say what they say if that makes any sense. If I had a secretary or good text to speech I think I might like that approach more…

wundayatta's avatar

I’ve written about this before, but I believe that the mind a lot of people call the subconscious is mislabled. I think it’s a nonverbal mind or perhaps I should call in non-linguistic. It thinks in terms of images—whether still or moving. Moving images are stories, of course.

The trick for linguistic artists, like writers, is to turn off their linguistic minds enough to access the non-linguistic, while at the same time keeping enough linguistic mind alive to capture and describe the images the other side of the mind is creating.

It is necessary to quiet the linguistic mind in order to allow the non-linguistic mind to be heard. Mediators meditate in order to do this, but artists use their artistic process to get help this other mind become more present.

It’s easiest for me to experience it dancing. Music is fairly easy, too. Writing, of course, is the hardest. Especially when writing more abstract things. Still it is possible. In any case, because our words are less present or apparent, we experience this as a kind of trance. We are use to thinking with symbols (such as words) and the non-linguistic mind thinks in a different way. I don’t know how it thinks, though. I do know that it is difficult for it to transfer thoughts to our linguistic minds (which we consider to be conscious minds).

Often times, those thoughts from the non-linguistic mind appear as sudden insights—eureka moments. The idea comes full blown, as if out of magic; as if no thought were involved; as if a God had given it. I believe that a lot of thinking has gone into it; it’s just that the thinking is not apparent to us.

We enjoy this frame of mind enormously because we tend to feel completely present. We are focussed on the moment, and so we feel timeless and connected to everything. We feel whole, not separate, and this is a wonderful thing. I think most people have experienced this, but that it is a lot easier for artists than for others, simply because they practice it more.

CMaz's avatar

Yes…. Now if I can just snap out of it.

The_Idler's avatar

The creative drive on LSD is incredible.

Every artist should try it, for the good of humanity.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@ChazMaz -Do you want me to get Cher to snap you out of it??

CMaz's avatar

Two snaps and a circle.

rovdog's avatar

@The_Idler I’m afraid LSD might alter my work forever- you always want to save work and be able to go back and edit.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@mzehnich Very cool, I’d love to learn more about that – any suggestions?

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@rovdog ah – yeah, I understand – that would be trickier. you really need a direct brain downlink! ;)

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@ChazMaz -I am afraid to ask….no I’m not! Circle??

CMaz's avatar

Circle- a simple shape of Euclidean geometry consisting of those points in a plane which are equidistant from a given point called the center.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@wundayatta Thanks! very enlightening.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@ChazMaz -Now that’s just crazy talk!Helen is that you?

MissAnthrope's avatar

@The_Idler – I totally agree that it’s amazing. One of the best experiences of my life was dropping 3 tabs, listening to several Beethoven and classical albums, and painting for like 8 hours straight. I was so lost in the music and the process, the play of colors was intensely pleasurable, and I came out with a few really nice pieces.

rovdog's avatar

There are those electro response things that they are developing. I think you can put electrodes on the surface of your skull and it will read your brain wave activity very generally. I think they are trying to get it to the point where you can at least make simple commands to an external device. Imagine if that could ever actually read and record individual thoughts. Likely impossible?

wundayatta's avatar

It’s interesting reading other people’s answers (about ten got posted while I was writing) after I wrote mine. I liked the reports of difficulties of writers in typing when they are in this state of mind. Yeah, Dictating. Probably verbal words come, at least partially, from the non-linguistic mind, as silly as that sounds.

In terms of the traditional right brain/left brain designations—from what I understand, these differing modes of thinking actually happen in both hemispheres, not just in one.

Back to linking both minds and the image/linguistic interface. I think that as we “image,” so to speak, our short term memory gets turned off to a certain degree. This fits in with the sensation of timelessness. Without memory work going on, we can attend to the present.

I do a dance workshop where we dance and then gather to talk about it afterwards. Usually people get out of their heads into their bodies during the workshop. Afterwards, when trying to talk about the experience, people will have a difficult time remembering what happened. In particular, they lose awareness of the music being there, although occasionally they will remember something specific about the music.

I found that I had to practice remembering in order to be able to talk about what happened during the dance. I had to remind myself at certain moments in order to pick up a memory. Even then, it was dicey as to whether I would be able to remember it afterwards. However, in any case, I have gotten better at it over time. People tend to like my stories of the evening because I can capture more of it and also because I can link it to other images and even larger abstract kinds of ideas (although a lot of that is just because I think about it so much).

I think if you know what you need to do, you can make that process of imaging and typing come more easily. If you are aware that you have to keep a foot in both kinds of minds, it helps. The other thing is to type so much that you never have to think about it. It just comes pouring out your fingers almost as fast as you can type.

I kind of like this latter, because I can watch the words appear in front of me and read them as if I didn’t write them. I guess both my minds are present at the same time. There’s only one really annoying thing. My linguistic mind is such a stickler for spelling that it keeps on telling the fingers to back up and correct stuff even though my other mind just wants to move on. “Do it later,” it says. Unfortunately, my linguistic mind is a strict taskmaster and tends to win that fight.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@rovdog I almost hope impossible – some things should be left in those recesses other than with people you’d tell them to vocally.

rovdog's avatar

@ MissAnthrope I like where this discussion has gone!

@JeanPaulSartre I was thinking the same thing as I wrote it. Did you read my thought? Very scary. Many things aren’t meant to be known.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@rovdog seriously, creepy, eh?

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

This is starting to spur all kinds of other questions…

Dilettante's avatar

Explore the term, “character possession.”

rovdog's avatar

All sorts of information filters are needed for the new world of information. Imagine if the brain as a filter started to disappear. People would be blogging so much crazy stuff directly from their brains- we need to use our built in processors.

KhiaKarma's avatar

This question has inspired me to celerate Mardi Gras by treating myself to starting a project! I could use some trancing out right now! Thanks!

MissAnthrope's avatar

As an aside, I totally want to plug my brain into some sort of recorder. I have the absolute best, most creative and genius thoughts as I’m falling asleep.. but am too sleepy and lazy to wake up enough to write them down.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I’m not an artist, but I go into a kind of meditative state when creating something with my hands, especially if the process doesn’t require intellectual input. I don’t know if it’s the same condition being described here. Things that require alertness, such as critical measurements or working with sharp tools, don’t trigger this. Finishing work on wood or leather projects will trigger this. It’s almost the same mental feeling as when running or cross-country skiing. Sometimes target shooting will put me into this state; just meditating on the x-ring without actually firing.

mzehnich's avatar

@wundayatta – I know what you mean about correcting spelling mistakes versus efficient writing. I have been forcing myself to temporarily ignore spelling, grammatical and compositional mistakes and get to them later to make my writing more vigorous, but it is certainly a difficult process.

Hey, I got this far and only just realized I misspelled efficient. I suppose I’m getting somewhere. :)

@JeanPaulSartre – I don’t really know of a very concrete source sadly, I have only read about the subject from various articles or small sections of books that might highlight it. What got me into the topic (or possibly, idea – it doesn’t appear to have much concrete scientific proof) in the first place was Betty Edward’s Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain in which the author talks about “switching from L-mode to R-mode” and presents some activities which actually work (this surprised me intensely). One such activity that was very powerful for me was taking an existing line-art drawing (a sketch of a man for example), turning it upside down and then trying to replicate it on a piece of paper. The author claims that your “L-mode” will give up on trying to recognize the features of the artwork (i.e. “this is a face”) and rather let your “R-mode” take over and instead recognize the face as a bunch of nondescript lines and curves. It is really neat that you will just be drawing a bunch of lines thinking to yourself “this can’t work…” and then when you’re finished, you flip the paper upside down, and it’s a near perfect replica. Very cool experience.

rovdog's avatar

@ MissAnthrope – I feel the same way. Sometimes I actually solve a problem that way- there are whole mind control methods based on focusing your brain to work in this semiconscious state.

Then again- are you sure that these thoughts are that profound? I often feel that these thoughts are very profound and scribble them down on a scrap paper on my headboard. In the morning, more times than not I find some barely intelligible scrawl on a gas receipt about something that was already obvious to me or something that is pretty stupid whereas the night before I thought it was going to change my life. I think there’s also a weird euphoria going on when you are in that state too.

fireflys's avatar

it’s more of a flow or invention. A release of thoughts or visuals that have been gathering. rather freeing. sometimes with purpose. other times not.

MissAnthrope's avatar

@rovdog – Obviously not all are winners, but that is when I am at my most genius. So, yeah, I have some really brilliant thoughts. It’s like my crazy left brain finally winds down (I have OCD and it gets crazy in my head) and I can hear the genius that is my right brain. The trouble is, I can’t bring myself to write any of it down, so it’s all completely lost by morning.

rovdog's avatar

@MissAnthrope why don’t you try keeping a tape or digital recorder by your bed- that’s easier than getting a pen and paper- that is if you can get yourself to speak- if your entering sleep your muscles may be paralyzed.

tragiclikebowie's avatar

@MissAnthrope @rovdog The same thing happens to me as I fall asleep. I think of lyrics, poems, profound thoughts, and once and a while I hear an entire symphony. There is no telling how much music I have essentially lost because I hear it in my dreams or as I’m falling asleep.

Sometimes I can write the lyrics or poems down in time, but sometimes I lose a few sentences.

Actually now that I think of it, the same thing happens to me in the shower.

RAWRxRandy's avatar

Haha, Isaac paints the future, but nice comparison there.
Yes, i enter this weird state where i’m only focused on my art and notice all these little details. I have to finish the artwork when im in this state, if I go out of it its hard to get back in and then I dont feel like working on it anymore.

The_Idler's avatar

@tragiclikebowie I get the same thing as I walk home at night. I imagine such great music and art, but never have the motivation to make it manifest when I get in at 0400

SeventhSense's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille
It depends on the motivation…
hmmm maybe I need a muse

tragiclikebowie's avatar

@The_Idler Pain in the ass isn’t it? No one will ever know our true genius.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I specialize in trances during business meetings. At least that’s what I say until I’m caught actually snoring.

rovdog's avatar

@tragiclikebowie I have a hard enough time figuring out way to express my conscious thoughts. I have notebook full of ideas that I will never get around to doing anything with. It’s sad in way how much our thoughts get lost and never expressed.

loser's avatar

I totally do that!!!

nebule's avatar

I long for this but I rarely get enough time with my ‘art’ to get into that space. I do get it though when I’m studying philosophy, my brain starts feeling like glue, putty and I get a bit dizzy and I’m deeply intensely thinking through strands of thought and logic and it’s all a bit bizarre really… brain workout perhaps and then I feel exhausted…like now. But I’d love love love to get enough time to do this with writing, painting, dancing, singing…. I’d love to do an art marathon… that would be pretty cool…. hmmmm…just had an idea

lifeflame's avatar

This state has been studied in the work of psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi

“Flow is the mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology)_

viainfested's avatar

I just zone out for hours when I’m working on a drawing, not stopping until it’s done most of the time. :P

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@lifeflame Awesome – thank you!

nebule's avatar

yes, thank you @lifeflame

dc10's avatar

sometimes i get a little trancified very briefly but otherwise im very much like ucme , heart and soul into it all and wont stop until i am done

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther