The zone is somewhere all artists seek refuge in. It’s a place that doesn’t physically exist but it’s very real. No doubt there are psychologists out that can aptly explain the zone, but all I can do is talk from experience.
The zone, for me, is a tunnel. Once inside, there is nothing else around me. All outside stimulus ceases to exist. It’s a dangerous place, in my opinion, because it’s addictive. It’s a simple retreat from the world into a place your imagination has created. For that reason, I doubt the zone is a healthy place to be for extended periods, but it’s an integral part of writing. Like Alice down the rabbit hole we go, drawn in by a world of our own creation and seduced by characters that don’t exist outside of our own imaginations.
It certainly doesn’t sound healthy but there’s nowhere else quite like it. The physical world fades away. What you did that morning, what was said the night before, what happened last week, your kids, the mortgage, your job. It all disappears. It’s gone. Fingers tapping furiously across the keys, the LCD screen your eyes scan back and forth across. None of that matters, your mind forgets it all. You’re in lockdown and it’s not something you can be roused from lightly.
Once inside, we’re slaves to our muses. Characters come alive, acting out their lives before us. We don’t so much control it as hold on tight and let it gallop over fields and through forests. I’ve often wondered who’s writing the story, is it me or have those characters taken control of their own destinies.
I spoke in my first blog post about the spectre of writing haunting me over the years but perhaps there’s more to it than that. Like a devil on your shoulder, the zone whispers in your ear, calling to you throughout the day. Those creations waiting patiently for the author to return, statuesque and cold, trapped midway through their stories.
It all sounds very dark and foreboding, but it’s not. The zone is a place of creation. Wonderful things can happen there. Stories created, masterpieces perfected, cures discovered. It’s a wholly human place and it inspires the best from us. It’s an incredible privilege to be able to access this strange intangible place and the power of it is not lost on me. I urge anyone to explore it, lose yourself in it, you never know what you might find lurking there.