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On Writer's Block

Can Emergence Help?

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This emergence transcript started out as simply a nice note from a visitor to the site. It ended up being the very thing to help her break through her writer's block. As to how exactly this happened, I've posited some thoughts about this at the end of the article.

On Sunday, January 26th, Peggy wrote and said ...

Hi Steven,

Very interesting web site, and forward thinking.  Some of it reminds me of Buddhist Madhyamika philosophy, stripped of the cultural aspect of course.  Are you a Buddhist? Just wondering. I will keep reading and provide more feedback as I do, but all in all, it's a brilliant treatise.


Peggy Z

that evening, I wrote back and said ...

Hi Peggy,

Thank you so much for writing and for sharing your kind feedback. And as my motive for doing the site is to make a difference in the world (and not my living), comments like yours mean a lot to me.

As for being a Buddhist; formally, no. However, I sat vapasana on a nearby mountain top for more than a decade prior to my first emergence, and I owe much of who I am to these ten years of practice.

I myself see many parallels between my theory of personality and Zen ideals in particular. In fact, I see my belief that "the wound is what you can't see" as being a direct reflection of their "seeking truth in emptiness."

Then again, I also feel much in common with most mystical beliefs as well; Jewish, Christian, Sufi, whatever; and many have asked me if I am a follower of these beliefs as well.

I am. Of all of them. The loving parts anyway.

Are you a Buddhist? A fellow student of religious philosophy? Your comments seem very insightful.

And again Peggy, thank you for writing and do write again should you want to dialogue about any of it.



On January 28th, she responded and said ...

Hi Steven

I think I am not so formal a Buddhist either, to answer your question. I am one of what you termed "the one who seeks to get & give understanding." As a matter of fact, I have made it my life's mission. Unfortunately, this mission is currently being nourished mostly just second hand, from online articles posted to user group message boards. But hey, you have to grab the wisdom where you can find it.

I am currently blocked from writing, which is my first and only life's passion / work. The reason for this block is simple; my current job. I am in tax collection and it is choking my creative ability. Leaving isn't an option because the time I used to spend writing had to be traded for a paying job to help support my son's college costs.

It's interesting how you postulate most blocks as being an event in the past. I see it as more of an ongoing problem which just takes on new forms with each stage of life. But enduring these shocks or traumas, no matter how balanced you may be, is inevitable if you participate in the real world; There is no easy way to scale the highest mountain.

I too have a desire to help people understand. I hope that one thing I can accomplish in my lifetime is to even help one person gain some semblance of enlightenment. Then I will feel that my time was not wasted.

Thanks for your reply and your generous effort.



January 29th, I wrote to her and said ...

Hi Peggy,

Rarely do I feel such gentleness come through in an email and in a tax collector, no less; I imagine Jesus would laugh warmly at the irony.

I also so resonate with your life's goal although I suspect I may have exceeded the "one person " limit already <grin>. I can only hope.

As for you, I am sure you have already touched many people in your life too, your son for one. Perhaps you have yet to recognize the beauty in admiring the affect you have on others and so, shy away from telling others you have had this affect. My point? I see this affect clearly written within your words.

As for our differing senses of what "Blocks" are, in fact, this is part of my life's mission; to help people to identify and heal the real "Blocks" in life. This was, in fact, my first emergence; seeing what actually causes suffering.

What I can say in this moment is, our "BLocks" are not our symptoms. In fact, to say this is what BLocks are is like saying our "symptoms" cause our "suffering," wherein our "suffering" is just another way to say, our "symptoms."

Since this is not true, this means BLocks do not get bigger with time. Only the symptoms and / or the signs of our BLocks can get bigger.

What is cumulative and what can get more insidious though, is the size of the efforts we make to try to control our symptoms. What I'm saying is, the ways we work around our symptoms get more insidious as time goes on. In fact, I often find that it is the most spiritual of people who manifest the most "evolved" methods of working around their symptoms.

Of course, if we do not heal the actual BLocks themselves, then life will inevitably let us know this has happened in one way or another. This is not life punishing us but rather, it is simply life's job; to find new and better ways to show us these BLocks. Why? Well, certainly not to hurt us but rather, to show us precisely where we each need love (and each other) the most.

Now if I may be so bold, I would like to ask if you would be willing to write and send me a brief description, from behind your eyes, of what it feels like to have writer's block. Please include only what you can see from behind your eyes; meaning, please try to leave out what you see as the cause or source or your writer's block. Include only the "personal parts of you."

Said in other words, please write and give me the details of the physical stage on which you now find yourself, including how old you feel (just the number of your age, really), the words for what is in your emotional heart (just the words for what you are feeling), and what your sense of time passing is.

I, for one, would love to read your words about this experience. And perhaps, we two, can together compose what may be a help to those who suffer from writer's block. This would really be something I'd love.

My calling calls.

Write soon,


On February 1, Peggy wrote this reply to me ...

Hi Steve

I hope I don't disappoint you with my lack of sophistication about these matters. I realize you put a tremendous effort to present your theories and possess great insight in matters of consciousness. I have some theories of my own, but let's first address your query.

When I look behind my eyes as I attempt to write and then feel the block, I experience a great fading of light, as if there were a gorgeous faceted jewel, moving just out of range of my view. At first this gives me an exhilarating rush for the mere glimpse of this vast brilliance. But then this thick, hazy smog begins to spread further, covering all of the gleaming treasures of words and ideas. 

How infuriating to be privy to this incredible potential, only to get dashed by the intrusion of this burning haze!

In terms of age, I am  somewhere in the agonizingly brief period between emergence from childhood and becoming a cynical teen. My heart feels anxious and forlorn about this lingering inability to tap into the well of beauty and light, and particularly that whatever window of opportunity I may have had, that time to climb through is slipping away, like the sand in the hourglass.


Then on February 9th, Peggy wrote and said ...

Hi Steven

You may not believe this (or maybe you are expecting it; I'm not altogether sure), but ever since I wrote that reply to your question, my writer's block has almost completely dissolved. In fact, I have actually been flooded with how to flesh out this new story project and bring it to fruition. Yesterday, I began researching, finding the needed references that had previously eluded me. Then today, I began the outline and the character list.

How do you do it?

thanx sooo much,


On February 13th, I responded and said ...

Hi Peggy,

Sorry for my slow reply. I've been swamped with work. Even so, I wanted you to know how happy I was to hear this from you. And to be honest, I'm not really that surprised. Writer's block is actually one of the easier things to help with, given the person who has it is good at picturing. And willing to try.

You are. And you are. So that made it easy.


You're so welcome,


My Thoughts on How I Helped Peggy Overcome Her Writer's Block

The short list of what I used was: [1] personally connecting to another, [2] changing your focus, and [3] stop resisting your writer's block by literally writing about it.

First and foremost, there's nothing like the power of personal connection to help people past writer's block. In fact, I see no better way past this kind of block than to bridge the distance between ourselves and the muses by connecting to another being.

Of course, this other "being" can be anything we can personal connect to. Thus, often, connecting to a "personal God" is the very thing to do the trick and I, myself, frequently use this sort of connection.

In truth though, I will use any personal connection I can use to help. Thus, at times, I have asked people to visualize a connection to someone whom has died, often asking them to write a letter to that dead person. At other times, I suggest people try to connect to someone in their daily lives, often in a face to face situation wherein they explain to that other person what they have been trying to write about.

At other times, I ask people to picture connecting to some personal vision of the "Divine," perhaps by their asking for some guidance or help with whatever has been blocking their writing efforts. At other times, I ask people to visualize a personal spiritual "guide," a mentor or perhaps, one of their personal heroes.

I've even used the idea of the person connecting to themselves at a different age. Often this works wonderfully.

My point is, the first and foremost ingredient in getting past writer's block is to use a personal connection to bridge the stuck point. And in Peggy's case, this is exactly what I did, with me as the other person.

So what else?

A change of focus often works. Thus, with Peggy, simply asking her to write her thoughts to me on some topic other than the one she was stuck on was enough. Along with my having asked her several questions which, in all likelihood, became starting points for these new topics.

So could I have used other topics in fact?

Actually, I'm not sure. I say this because I very much believe personal connections come only from topics personally interesting to both people. Thus, what Peggy and I spoke about were topics personally interesting to both of us, and this is where much of our connection came from.

So what about the more serious cases of writer's block? Aren't there sometimes actual BLocks present, in the Emergence sense of the word, "BLocks?"

Definitely. And in these cases, the writer will flounder at best until becoming able to visualize this BLock. For instance, years ago, I tried to write a book chapter on "blame." Unfortunately, I was clueless as to how blocked I was and wrote close to seventy pages before giving up. Seventy pages of floundering nonsense.

So what was BLocked? Far too much to describe here. Suffice it to say, I had no picture for "blame" wherein the blaming person didn't deserve to be punished. "Blame" was bad, and "blamers" were bad people.

What I didn't realize at the time though was that I had been blaming myself mercilessly for my having writer's block. While trying to write an article on blame.

Oh well. And my point? That exploring blame is frequently the very way into writer's block. How? By realizing that we often get stuck in "why" we can't do something, focusing more on this "why" than on efforts to write.

Thus, by remembering the Buddhist maxim, "that which you resist persists," you can stop resisting your writer's block by literally writing about it, in particular, by paying special attention to what or whom you think is to blame for your writer's block.

In Peggy's case, I did exactly this when I joked with her about how Jesus might have laughed at the irony of her being a caring tax collector. And what did this address? What Peggy was blaming for her inability to write? Her being a tax collector.

She was also blaming this same thing for her inability to spend more time living up to the wonderful goals she had set for herself; the goals to be one who "seeks to get and give understanding." No coincidence then that it is in this very spirit that I've posted this article, in the hopes it may help someone who is also struggling with writer's block.

Should this be you, please do not give up. And if you need someone to personally connect to, please consider writing to me.



P. S. Were you to now go to the site's new and revised page and if you were to look for times wherein I post nothing new for months, what you'd find is many such times. Sometimes, they are the "baking the new idea in the oven" times. Just as often though, I was struggling with writer's block. I tell you this in the hopes we may find yet one more thing in common, you and I. And one more way to connect.

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