Hmm, one way to maybe get around this would be to start an intrinsically motivating project but limit oneself to the tools one has to learn for extrinsic reasons.
Then my advice is this: talk to someone who has the entry-level job you want and ask him or her what skills he/she needs to do it and what skills whoever hired him or her thinks one needs. Then learn them. As for the "oddly unable" thing, I suggest reflecting on how you learned what you are good at in the first place. If there's anything different about your current, ineffective approach to learning new techniques stop doing it. Unless you've recently suffered brain trauma, it's likely just some weird ugh field-like effect.
Yeah, that does sound pretty awful, not something you'd want to induce. For me it was just this: pressure on my chest, inability to move my limbs, and the feeling that some entity was observing me. There was no gnashing of teeth.
You're asking me for advice? That was the first time I've looked at code in my life. I'm sure the textbook recommendation thread has something on programming. From what I understand, though, halfway-decent programmers are very employable at the moment, so either you're overestimating your ability, there's some other factor you haven't shared, or my intuition on the employment prospects of halfway-decent programmers (I assume this means close to, if slightly below, the level of the average pro) is incorrect.
I was lucky enough to have read about that before the one time it happened to me. So I wasn't scared. I just thought, So this is sleep paralysis. Since then I've read that lucid dreamers often try to force themselves into sleep paralysis, as it's the first stop to the sandman's brooding realm. The next time it happens to you, you should try for a Feynman-style lucid dream. It could be fun.
I edited because the code I looked at seemed to be atypical, comparing it to what others have posted. No, I don't think I'm M3 at all--though my father probably is, as he picked up programming in his twenties and knows many languages. As I had expected the code to look like nonsense, I was merely surprised I could get some idea about what was going on. My prior for being able to get a programming job with <300 hours of dedicated practice is low, but it could be something to investigate as a hobby.
quickly check to see if you are a natural computer programmer by pulling up a page of Python source code and seeing whether it looks like it makes natural sense, and if this is the case you can teach yourself to program very quickly and get a much higher-paying job even without formal credentials.
I just did this. And I was surprised; this seemed far less inscrutable than I intuitively expected, having never read any code. My father is a computer programmer, so I may have it in my DNA. He is more intelligent than me though. Example, I once told him the three gods puzzle and he had it solved in ~20 minutes; he didn't even use paper.
P/S/A: If your work involves writing and you often find yourself procrastinating on the internet, buy an old laptop, rip out the wifi card and use it as your dedicated writing laptop.
P/S/A: When you need to get a large amount of writing done outside of office hours, go to some non-home location (a coffee shop not a library, as books are the ultimate distractions) and commit yourself to not leaving until you reach a specific word count--I find two thousand words is reasonable and achievable; at least it is for non-creative writing.
Also, If there is some fact that you need to research use the TK method to mark it down for later.
Some early science fiction isn't so much about conflict as it is a relation of an unlikely experience. But then, the stories I have in mind weren't exactly that great. So that's not exactly evidence against the assumption. Still, I think a sufficiently skilled writer could create an enjoyable story without conflict, but it would be like a painter throwing out a primary color.
One of my favorite of OP's short posts is Building Weirdtopia. (Yudkowsky's no spoilers approach to scientific pedagogy is such an intriguing one, I'm a quite sad he hasn't spun it into a novel yet. I'd seriously love to read a Neal Stephenson-length epic about a child in such a society recapitulating modern science, but maybe I'm just weird that way.) It strikes me that one could write a novel about a Weirdtopia that has no conflict, featuring only exploration of a counter-intuitive, yet highly intriguing, world. Conversations within, and descriptions of, this strange world (so long as the writer is very, very clever) would keep my interest. But then, this would be more like speculative anthropology than a story.
A lot of people got this from shuttle launches, and so reacted negatively to the the (in my opinion good) arguments for focusing NASA's budget on robotic space exploration.