Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Dare to Feel. Dare to Connect

"Go to the emotional epicenter, where it hurts most, and write on. If you dare."
~ Bill Donovan, editor/publisher, Creative Screenwriting

"Only connect."
~ E.M. Forster

The call to write is a call to share our emotional depth with others. It's a call to be vulnerable. It's a call to connect.

Thing is, we don’t touch others at a deep level when we connect mind-to-mind, though that connection is a powerful and important one. We touch others at a deep level when we connect heart-to-heart.

Unless we write from our deepest heart, unless we tell the stories that move us, we will never move our readers.

I spent the first chunk of my writing career avoiding writing from what Bill Donovan calls the "emotional eipcenter." I observed and reported, intellectually and dispassionately. I told stories, but without heart.

In not revealing my feelings (at times, not even to myself), I failed to engage my readers in any but superficial ways. I failed them and I failed myself.

I didn't connect.

Do you want to write truth, the truth from which both powerful fiction and nonfiction arise? If you want to write truth, if you want to write words that will touch the deepest emotions and connections and truths of your reader, then you must write what your heart calls on you to write. You must go where you've never dared go before -- in your writing, certainly; in your life, perhaps.

You must, as I write in The Voice of the Muse's "Thirteen Rules for Writing," go for the jugular, for your jugular: "Go for the demon you would run from. Go for the feeling you would flee from. Go for that emotion you would deny. Once you put it on paper, you strip it of its power over you. Once you put it on paper, you free it to empower your work."

You free it, as well, to empower your readers. You empower them to feel their emotions, to be vulnerable and to share their stories.

"We tell our stories in order to live," Joan Didion writes in The White Album

We tell our stories, too, to connect.

There is neither life nor connection outside the heart.

• Where are you refusing to be vulnerable in your writing?

• Where are you afraid to reveal your feelings, perhaps even to yourself?

• In what ways are you reluctant to connect, heart-to-heart, with your readers?

• Where, right now, can you go for the jugular -- your jugular -- and dare to write from your emotional epicenter?

Part of answering the call to write and birthing the book that's inside you involves tapping into that emotional epicenter. I'll be encouraging you to do that in both my upcoming workshops in Albuquerque. See this blog post for more details. (My calendar of upcoming book-signings, classes, workshops and other events is always posted on my page at

Adapted from The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write, winner of a 2009 IPPY Silver Medal as one of the top writings books of the year

Photo by Mark David Gerson: Cholla cactus flower, Sandia foothills, Albuquerque, NM


Karen Walker said...

As always, your words speak right to my heart. At my recent writing retreat, where I used "Voice of the Muse" as a guide, the word which came to me in one of the meditations was "connection." Now I am seeing it all over. It must be what's up for me.
Thanks for all you do, Mark David.

Mark David Gerson said...

It's a privilege to be part of your creative life, Karen. Thanks for the note. Looking forward to seeing you somewhere soon!!

kjsmith said...

Absolutely inspiring post.

Connecting helps us build relationships and possibilities.

Going for the jugular can be scary but also liberating. Thanks for the nudge to do so without fear.

Mark David Gerson said...

If you can't do it without fear, do it with fear. Just do it!!

Rasmenia said...

Off & on today, as I sat here in front of my fancy computer machine, clicking & scrolling, I found myself more than once at this very blog.

I've wandered through almost all of your archives & I must say - I have found some wonderful bits & pieces to take away with me once I finally peel myself out of this chair, so thank you for that.

There are some very encouraging & motivational words here, which as we all know, writers can use from time to time.

That... & a really good pen.

cheryl @ art in every day said...

Ah yes, I've found that writing from the heart connects us with others, and to the ourselves; for it comes from a deeper and higher place - at least that's what I find, especially from the Muse of my Expressive Art - which takes on many dimensions. Now, to engage the muse within, for engagement sake - no art, just "me". Thank you for the reminder and inspiration to 'dare to connect' even deeper.
Cheers! ~Cheryl

Kristen howe said...

Mark, your blogs are so inspirational for our muses. So filled with enlightenment, your blog and website is great. Congrats on the win for the award! Writing is a good way of expressing myself than just more than words and images with my ideas.

Anonymous said...

Your blog is very inspiring, especially to a new writer.

Mark David Gerson said...

So glad when my words can be the instrument that helps you release you yours.

Anonymous said...

Many writing coaches talk about conflict as a war, two different factions battling it out, and yet in many books, conflict is more of a connection/disconnection between characters. So it makes sense that we as writers would feel that same connection/disconnection with our writing.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

What an inspiring post. Thank you for allowing me to repost it on my blog.