When I practise jiu-jitsu, I slip into a state of mind which is similar to how I feel when I write. Just purer in form. It invokes that lack of self-consciousness which Ray Bradbury recognised as the key to creative expression.
Having someone try to choke me and make me submit focuses the mind. There’s no time to think about how sweaty how I am. How my gi looks like. Whether what I’m doing is the optimal thing. If other people are watching or commenting. There’s nothing but my, my opponent and my objective.
Maybe that’s why so many creative types practice a sport. They find a state of flow in their creative work, and through sport, find another way to achieve a similar feeling. To unleash that usually-inhibited, pure energy.
Perhaps they, like me, recognise that absorption in a task is a skill which transcends boundaries. Which is immune to the constraints and domain dependency of other psychological skills.
Perhaps, competing against an external opponent on a regular basis is what allows them to fight better against the inner adversary that attacks when they create.