Before Christmas I’d started to demonstrate ways you can use the ANCIENT CHILD technique to improve any area of your life. Two days ago there was a long conversation about writer’s block on FB, so let’s apply it there. Consider “Writer’s Block” to be anything that disrupts the process of writing, re-writing, or submitting, shall we?
In writing and re-writing, “writer’s block” can be defined as the disruption of the dance between conscious and unconscious minds, the “flow state” in which you are just playing and splashing words on the page, and the “editing state” where you are judging the quality of what you have written.
If your “editor” were disabled by lobotomy, you’d be able to write all day long with no problem, endless thousands of words, because you don’t give a damn whether it makes sense at all.
The reason I can easily write a thousand words a day is that I write the way I talk. “Everyone talks first draft” as Larry Niven once said about public speaking. And for the average person, you can hold a conversation without stuttering constantly (stuttering here considered as a constant second-guessing, editing, “watching yourself speak” instead of just speaking.)
In other words, you are blocked because you are constantly judging the quality of the output. The “editor” (the “parent”? The “manager”?) Is talking in your ear the entire time.
What you need to do is follow Ray Bradbury’s advice to let yourself just “run through the tall grass” during your first draft, then switch into the other editing mode during re-write. You can literally separate the two by using different desks, writing in two different rooms, or wearing different baseball caps during the two phases. Flow in the morning, edit in the afternoon.
Or, you can specifically develop your “flow” state. Learn to recognize and strengthen it. “Flow” is the entrance to higher more efficient and effective mental function. The trick is to just write, but constantly improve your quality of reading input so that that natural “flow” gets better and better. I remember running out of money while working on THE LEGACY OF HEOROT, and figuring that if we could turn in a large enough chunk of text, we could get a partial payment in advance. So for three days I got up in the morning, and simply wrote all day long. At the end, I had about 20 thousand words of rough text. Then I spent two days polishing it.
And…to my shock, the polished text was as good as if I had hunted and pecked, with might have taken four or five times as long.
Why? Because the part of you that writes, what Stephen King calls the “boys in the basement” IS NOT YOUR ORDINARY MIND. Not the part of you that doubts, or edits, or checks spelling and grammar. It is like a “child” that just plays. The “editor” who blocks you saying “it’s crap” is like a parent..and sometimes, an abusive parent.
What you have to do is leave the “kid” alone to write and play, then get the “kid” to do the “homework” of reading high quality material. During sleep, your brain will integrate the actions psychologically and neurologically, leading to higher and higher levels of performance during “flow.” That’s how it works. But the “editor” voice will never stop saying “it’s crap.” That’s its job. You just have to learn to ignore it at times.
So there are several specific applications of AC to writer’s block.
- the induction itself will take you into flow. When you feel yourself sort of “floating”, notice. Then notice that same feeling prior to going to sleep. When driving on the freeway. When running or doing yoga or tai chi. When making love and entering orgasm. Once you notice what “flow” feels like, you can refine, develop, strengthen and anchor it so that you can “trigger” it on command.
- Comfort and vow to protect the “child” aspect of your personality. The adult’s job is to deal with other adults or the Mean Kids. To create a safe place for the “child” to play. The child’s job is to dance and run and sing. Make the mistake of forcing your “child” to work is like child prostitution. A horrible misuse of your inner symbology.
- Visualize the finished products: the books themselves. Clarify the road to that goal, and deliberately dissolve the obstructions.
- “Feel” the path. Books, paintings, stories, and sculptures are not art, in a very specific sense. They are “objects of art”. They are by-products of living your life in a specific way: writing, reading, re-writing, deeply considering your own existence and the world around you. Submitting your work and having the courage to continue submitting it until editors begin to respond. Just do these things, and walk that path with greater integrity daily, greater courage, greater focus…and over time you will find your work improving. That’s how it goes. Commit to the path of Mastery, and see individual projects as nothing but by-products. And during the AC you can visualize this path to Mastery clearly, and commit to it with intellect and full emotions.
Those are just a few ideas. All you have to do is start with Heartbeat Meditation, and then when you are comfortable with that to visualize your “inner child”, a being made of light within your heart, at the root of your spine, or the crown of your head. Protected. Safe. Joyous.
Please, please try it. The childhood you save may be your own.