In an interview about acting in her film “Bug,” Ashley Judd described the state of mind she values in her work:
“For me, what I look for is to do a take and have very little if any memory of what just happened. That’s the sort of take where I’m satisfied and sated and I walk away thinking, Whatever happened, I’m OK with it.
“To me that’s good – I wasn’t in control, I wasn’t plotting and planning, I wasn’t designing a neat little performance with perfect expressions. I had an experience, it was dynamic, I don’t remember it – that’s what I’m looking for.”
Her director William Friedkin says, “That happened quite often, mostly in the more tense or edgy situations.”
[From article: In ‘Bug,’ Ashley Judd mines the enemies within, by Mark Olsen, The Los Angeles Times, May 20, 2007]
Judd has also talked about being “a hypervigilant child,” always striving to be perfect.
“A wonderful pastor once told me, Perfectionism is the highest order of self-abuse,” she said. “So now I try to remind myself that if I engage in perfectionism, I am abusing myself. Period.”
[Photo from her movie “Come Early Morning” (2006)]
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Not being tied to getting it “perfect” [as if that were even possible] is one aspect of working and being in the flow state.
Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced me-high chick-sent-me-high) who has written a number of books on the topic, says we can facilitate the conditions for this quality of optimal functioning, and that it may be found in a wide range of careers and activities.
He has studied many people deeply involved in work, forgetting everything else, and says it is facilitated by “a challenge which provides clear, high goals and immediate feedback… They forget themselves, the time, their problems.”
Athletes call flow experience being in the “zone” – an optimal psychological and physiological climate for peak performance.
It is definitely not the sort of zoning out you can get into watching tv and having a vodka gimlet, or driving an interstate across Kansas at night.
Susan K. Perry, PhD (author of Writing in Flow) affirms that flow is not a state of “no mind” or meditative non-thinking as we usually think of it.
“I don’t believe that when you get into a creative place, you’re giving up thinking,” she says. “You’re super-thinking — better and with more parts of your mind than you do normally.”
For more on all this see my article Creativity and Flow Psychology.
Book by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention