A Writer’s Brain

I recently saw an article in the NYT about differences in experienced and new writer’s brainwaves. It seems that writers have a brain wave pattern similar to athletes when they are in the zone.
This was more interesting than surprising to me. Here’s why: I practiced the Korean martial art, Tae Kwon Do, for many years. There I was exposed to the term ‘mu.’ (Wu in Chinese). It means ‘not have; without.’ It is a key word in Zen Buddhism traditions, in the sense of ‘no mind,’ a concept similar to ‘being in the zone,’ to my understanding.
I thought it was oriental mambo jumbo until one night, I experienced it. I was able to spar that night without my mind getting in my way. I did things that surprised me. I said to myself, I can’t do that. In a sense, that was correct. The part of me I experience as I, could not move as fast or as efficiently as that part of me without I being present.
I have also read that the closest thing to a Zen practitioner in the west is a computer programmer. Why? It’s because they are sometimes so engrossed in the other world they are creating, they lose their sense of self. They are in a state of no mind – wu.
So, what does this have to do with writing. I believe that when one is creating, you enter into an Altered State of Consciousness, resembling wu or being in the zone. While you are there, you are outside yourself. One writer described what happened to him as “watching his fingers do the writing on the keyboard.”
That state can only be achieved by continually going to the well. It can’t be achieved by intermittent practice, fighting writer’s block, or critiquing your writing. It is something you can only achieve through practice.
There is another element that comes into writing which is creativity. It is either there or not and is less amenable to manipulation. Through practice and exposure to creative others, one can learn some things about creativity. However, if you’re not creative by nature, you can’t grow it.