Once Around The Block

Sun, 17/09/2006 - 5:49pm
"Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well" -- Mahatma Gandhi

For writers there exists a peculiar anomaly called writer's block. Nobody is quite sure how or why it happens; no one can completely explain it. It happens. The writer suddenly cannot put thoughts into words. This strange lapse of ability to create can result from stress, worry, illness, or fear, but it does result from something and when it happens, the writer is almost totally frozen. He will put forth every effort, but he will accomplish nothing of value. He will sit at his keyboard and wait, but he will not be able to produce anything of value. Sometimes he will get words out but they will be flat; emotionally empty, uninteresting.

Some of the greatest writers of our time have suffered from writer's block. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who spent most of his life writing and who won the Nobel Prize (One Hundred Years of Solitude), stopped writing in 2005 because he believed his creative juices just dried up.

After finishing Don Quixote, Cervantes was powerless in his effort to find an appropriate second novel and did little more than expand upon that successful work.

There's very little rationale for why writers experience the inability to continue to be creative. While they can sometimes pen short works of both fiction and nonfiction, they seem unable to kick start the first chapter of just one more great novel or article.

Most good writers recover from this sudden lapse of creativity and rarely experience it. Others find the invisible monster invading their lives more often. Some never escape the fiend and they become paranoid to the point of immobility. Whether it's the traumatic thought that the next work won't be as good as the last, the simple fact that the writer has kidney stones and the pain won't let him think, or an inexplicable in-between matter, there is something in existence at the very moment that keeps him from being successfully productive.

How the writer deals with the situation determines whether the future will be bright or dark.

I think poker players looking for a reason for bad luck, unlucky streaks and short or long-term losses can take note of what happens to other experts. While it might not get them back on the winning track, it could give them some solace and help them work out the kinks with a major monetary sacrifice.

For writers, the best way to get through the obstacle of writer's block is to write something, anything, even if it's just a list of words. A list of words can lead to word association which can lead to sentences than can lead to plots. Other writers will simply look at an object and try to describe it, not intending to use the description for anything but stimulation. Still others might turn to reading to find inspiration.

The key that most successful writers use to open the door almost always relates to writing. So it should be with poker.

Let's say you have been playing on www.blondepokerleague.com and are on a losing streak. I have been, about three months worth. I tried different things but when I altered my strategy, it didn’t seem to work. No matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to have the table tilt in my direction after my bet. I couldn’t force anybody out or keep anybody in! In short, no matter what I did, I couldn’t play profitable online poker. I was mentally shot.

So of course I told myself that it was all in my head. I switched to other sites where I didn’t have a bad mental history. It also turned up the same results!

So I tried something different. On two successive weekdays all I did was silently railbird all day, first a ring game and then a tournament to observe others as they try to overcome their downward sliding chips.

On another day I just analysed tracker software and looked for leaks, patterns and then examined the hand histories. The aim was a) saving money and b) analysis and self discovery.

Perhaps I thought to myself, “you need to just play live for a while”. I hadn’t played live for a month for one reason and another. This threw up two final tables in three smallish competitions, nothing spectacular, but by facing real opponents I began to get a grip on my game again. It didn’t tell me that much though, I know I am a better live than online player. I can 'read' well, online this ability is of course far more difficult.

Now, slowly the results have begun to improve again. I am tentative to suggest it’s a trend but things might, just might, be looking up. I am hoping that as I have been a winner to begin with and as I am not now suffering from a physical problem or any emotional ailments, then chances are that I’ve ridden out the downswing. At last.

That's the key to overcoming poker block I think -- nothing to it but get on with it, work hard, and be as mentally strong as possible.