Writer’s Block

I have a friend, let’s call him Geo, who is talented in math and computers. He has a part-time job teaching elementary school teachers to do math. Most took math in college, secondary, and primary schools. Most have math anxiety. They acquired their anxiety when they were children and it has stayed with them as adults. It is affecting their jobs and their lives. Before he can begin to teach them math, he has to deal with their math anxiety. Once he has dealt with that, they can learn math, but not before.
You see they have learned, whenever math comes up, to go into an ego state that shuts down their learning. Say the word math and they react. They are not dumb, they are not incapable of learning, they have acquired a psychological pattern that is triggered by the word math or any variation of the word.
Their pattern reminds me somewhat of when I learned to sword fight. I noticed my opponents thought the object of sword fighting was to clang swords together. So instead of attacking their opponents directly, they fought like Hollywood pirates. They happily clanged away with their swords instead of taking their attacker out. My Sensi (instructor) taught me an Iaido technique of drawing my sword, blocking my opponents attack, cutting them, and returning my sword. The fight was over in a second. No clashing swords, no dancing around, no ‘aaaarg’s’ or other pirate relics.
Some writers have writer’s blocks. I think their blocks are like the teacher’s math problem. They are engaged in a struggle they can’t stop because they believe it is a necessary part of writing. They believe, “You can’t write, if you don’t struggle.” It is like the clanging of swords. It is a meaningless ritual that leads nowhere and has no purpose except to tire you. I am not belittling those who have writer’s block, I’m suggesting that if you change the way you look at it, they way you think about it, it will change.
Sword fighters can become caught up in fear, or they can learn to be constantly ready to meet an opponent and dispatch them immediately. The difference is in how you prepare. Someone with writer’s block prepares to write by experiencing their block. Someone without it, prepares to write by experiencing their writing rituals.
If you have writer’s block, how can you deal with it. First, you can imagine yourself writing without block. That is, meditate on writing itself and not on the block. Second, you can have your desk or writing area prepared so that you can begin writing immediately when you arrive there.
It really doesn’t matter what you write, writing something is the most important thing to do. It can be anything. For example, you can write a character sketch of the last person you saw outside your home. You can write a one page short story, a poem, a song, etc. This is called getting well mechanically. After a time, you will forget your block.
Next, be ready ahead of time by having an outline or schedule of your activities. Think about each problem you experience as being surmountable. Don’t think about your goal, but about what is happening in the here and now.
For years I wondered why some people with high intelligence, capability, and goals failed. While others with the same talents succeeded. The people who fail have their eyes on the horizon and trip over the first obstacle. The people who succeed have their eyes on the ground and step over and around obstacles.