Thursday, February 25, 2010

Creative Support: The Healthy Way to Give Writing Feedback

Share these guiding principles with those to whom you intend to show your work, and be certain they’re comfortable abiding by them. Read them yourself before commenting on a friend’s work.

1. Be Nurturing.
Remember, the only reason to offer feedback is to support the writer and his or her work. This is not a test of your ability to pick out flaws. Don’t be smart. Be gentle. Don’t show off. Be fair.

2. Be Balanced.
Always begin with the positive -- with what you like about the piece, with its strengths, with what works for you. With that foundation of support, you can then offer constructive comments. Remember, you can say anything you feel called to say about the work, as long as you frame it with respect and compassion.

3. Be Specific.
You’re at your most helpful when you can offer examples from the text of what works and what doesn’t. Be clear.

4. Be Respectful.
Give only the type and level of feedback the writer has sought. If there are other elements you would like to comment on, ask permission. Respect the answer you get.

5. Be Compassionate.
Remember the Golden Rule of Feedback: “Speak unto others in the manner you would have them speak unto you.” Put yourself in the writer’s shoes and offer feedback as you would prefer to receive it.

Adapted from The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write, (c) 2008 Mark David Gerson

• Companion Piece: The Healthy Way to Seek Feedback for Your Writing

• Coming March 3 via teleconference: The Voice of the Muse Coaching Group for Writers. Last chance today to save!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sharing Your Work: The Healthy Way to Ask for Feedback

Stay in charge of your creative process by reading these guiding principles before sharing your work with anyone -- including your life partner or best friend.

1. Be Protective.
You have no more right to knowingly expose your work to influences that could harm it or set it back than you do your child. Seek out only those people and situations that will support you and your writing. Never assume that the people closest to you will be the most supportive. Always use your discernment.

2. Be Open.
Your work, like your child, requires fresh air and outside influences. Don’t be overprotective and suffocating. Be open to others’ perceptions, comments and responses.

3. Be Aware.
To everything there is a season. At different stages in your work and your process, you will be ready to hear different things. Respect where you are and seek only the type of feedback you are prepared to receive and integrate. Recognize when you are at your most raw and respect that.

4. Be Clear.
Be clear about the type of feedback you require and desire.

5. Be Explicit.
Once you know what kind of feedback is appropriate at this time, ask for it --clearly, directly and without equivocation. Your reader cannot know how best to support you unless you make your needs clear. If you are vague and unclear, you open yourself to comments you are not ready to hear, comments that could feel damaging, even if they’re not intended to be so.

6. Be Strong.
Know what you want and don’t be afraid to speak up when you’re not getting it, or when you’re getting something you didn’t ask for. Remember, this is your work and your creative process. You have every right to seek out what will help and support you.

7. Be Discerning.
The words on your page are an expression of you but they are not you. Negative comments, whether intentionally cruel or not, have no power to harm you, unless you abdicate your power and allow yourself to be hurt. In fact, take neither praise not criticism too seriously. Deep inside, you know your work’s strengths and weaknesses. Tap into that inner knowingness and rely on it to discern which comments support you and serve your work at this stage in its development and yours.

• How can you be clearer in the feedback you seek?

• How can you be more discerning in who you ask for feedback?

• How can you be more respectful of your work's needs and your own when seeking feedback?

• Next time: The Healthy Way to Give Feedback

Adapted from The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write, (c) 2008 Mark David Gerson

• Coming March 3 via teleconference: The Voice of the Muse Coaching Group for Writers.

Feedback image: Artist unknown.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Muse & You with Mark David Gerson (#8): Radio About Writing, Creativity & Life

Episode Eight:
Thursday, Feb 18, 1pm ET
(click here to listen live or to the archived version any time after the show airs)

• Ask the Writing Coach (your questions for me about writing and creativity) and a special feature interview with book-marketer extraordinaire Penny Sansevieri author of Red Hot Internet Publicity: An Insider's Guide to Promoting Your Book on the Internet

If you want to know anything about online book marketing, there's no better person to ask than Penny C. Sansevieri. CEO of Author Marketing Experts, a decade-old San Diego-based PR firm that focuses on books and authors, Penny knows what exactly what it takes to harness the seemingly limitless resources of the internet and direct them aggressively and effectively to your benefit. She should: Penny was focusing her promotional efforts on the internet long before the rest of us came on board.

Her newest book, the just-revised and reprinted Red Hot Internet Publicity crams her vast experience and encyclopedic knowledge into 279 pages of tools, tips and advice, along with a cornucopia of web-related resources.

Wondering how to create a web site that sells? Or how to deal with Twitter?

How about getting your blog to work for you? Or the six need-to-know rules of 21st-century publicity?

Of course you should pick up Penny's book for the answers. But you should also tune in on February 18 when I ask her about these and other aspects of getting the word out to the world about you and your books in the sometimes-baffling internet age. You'll also have a chance to use three of the tools of the internet age to get your book-marketing questions to Penny: the BlogTalk Radio chatroom, Facebook and Twitter (see below).

Five Things Penny Wants You To Know About Web Marketing
1. Don't Listen to Your Mother: Be vocal!
2. Don't Languish in Obscurity: Get buyers to your web site.
3. Emphasize Your Personality: Get personal.
4. Be Helpful or Be Gone: Give your visitors reasons to return to your blog or web site.
5. Content Rules: Fill your site with good stuff!
~ adapted from Red Hot Internet Publicity

As usual during the first segment of The Muse & You, I'll offer some writing tips and inspiration and take your questions about writing and the creative process and about me and my books, The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write and The MoonQuest: A True Fantasy. Penny will be on right after that.

Please tune in, and bring your questions -- for me and for Penny!

There are three ways to ask questions of my and my guests or to post comments:
• Post your questions in the show's chat room (free Blog Talk Radio account required)
• Post your questions directly to me on Twitter (@markdavidgerson)
• Post your questions directly to me on on my Facebook wall

The Muse & You with Mark David Gerson, is all about writing and creativity, and it's for writers and readers alike -- an opportunity to listen to writers and creators of all sorts talk about how and why they create and, of course, about what they create. It's also an opportunity for you to ask your questions -- of me during the first segment of the show, when I offer writing tips and inspiration, and of my guests during the interview portion.

Listen to The Muse & You with Mark David Gerson on the third Thursday of every month at 1pm ET (10am PT). March guest TBA.

The Muse & You Show Archive
If you miss any live broadcast, you can listen to the archived episode, which is available shortly after each show on the show's web page. You can also download any show directly into your computer for later listening.

#7 ~ Jan 21 ~ Cristina M.R. Norcrossauthor of Unsung Love Songs

#6 ~ Dec 17 -- Karen Walker author of Following the Whispers

#5 ~ Nov 19 -- Dan Stone author of The Rest of Our Lives

#4 ~ Oct 15 -- Kristin Bair O'Keeffe author of Thirsty

#3 ~ Sept 17 - Joanne Chilton and Jeanne Ripley co-authors of Wings to Fly

#2 ~ Aug 20 -- Jared Lopatin, author of Rising Sign

#1 ~ July 29Julie Isaac, founder of Twitter's #writechat, and Malcom Campbell, author of
The Sun Singer and Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire

Writing/Creativity Coaching Groups with Mark David / in person and by phone via Teleconference

• Via Teleconference / March 3-April 21 / 9pm ET (Discount fee through Feb 12)

An 8-week guided experience of creative commitment and acceleration. It doesn’t matter whether you have a project that’s ongoing, stuck or ready to kick off, or whether you just want help establishing and maintaining a regular writing rhythm; a Voice of the Muse Coaching Group will be your weekly compass alignment to keep you empowered, motivated, inspired and on track.

Private Writing/Creativity Coaching Sessions with Mark David

Let Mark David help you unleash the power of your creative potential!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Birthing Your Book...With Ease

If you're in Los Angeles this weekend, please drop by the Conscious Life Expo at the Airport Hilton and say hi. I'll be giving a talk on "Birthing Your Book with Ease" (free with Expo admission) on Friday, Feb 12 at 7pm. And I'll be at the Lighted Bridge Communications booth (#505) all weekend (Feb 12-14), signing books and offering discounted mini-coaching sessions on writing.

Whether you're in L.A. or not, if you need help birthing
your book, consider private coaching sessions. Or join my new coaching group for writers, available wherever you live, as it's offered over the phone via teleconference, starting Feb 24.
* * * * * * * * * * *

I didn’t know anything about a book called The MoonQuest when its words began to flow through me.

I didn’t know The Voice of the Muse was a book when its words began pouring from me.

All I knew in both instances was that my Muse was calling me and that the only way to answer its call was to write.

As I wrote, the books took care of themselves.

One day’s writing led to the next. One draft led to the next. One book led to the next.

Each day, draft and book drove my pen. My pen, in turn, drove me.

My only job was to release all attachment to form, structure, content and outcome. My only job was to write and let the words go where they chose and create what was theirs to create.

As it turned out, what was theirs to create were books. They could have been short stories, articles, journal entries or exercises. They could have been anything at all.

My job wasn't to try to figure that out. My job was to write, to surrender to the imperative of my Muse -- a wiser soul in all things creative than I could ever pretend to be.

The StarQuest was different. Even before The MoonQuest was finished, I knew its sequel was in me, waiting to emerge. I knew it was a book. I even knew a smidge of its story before I began.

So how did I begin? The same way I begin every piece of writing: by beginning. Whatever you know of your book and its content, you start every piece of writing the same way, with a single word. With a single letter. With a single pen stroke or key stroke. Any word. Any letter. Any pen stroke or tap on the keyboard.

“In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God...”

Your first word also resides with God or your Muse or whatever creative source you acknowledge. So does your second and third and thirtieth and thirty-thousandth.

Whichever word gets you started is the right one. And that right one will inexorably lead you to the next and the next and the next. And the next...if you let it.

Ultimately, all those words will lead you through your book to its ending, an ending that has been waiting for you since the beginning of time. Of course it has, for your book has existed since the beginning of time, waiting patiently for you acknowledge it, open your heart to it and capture its essence in words on a page.

Are you ready to acknowledge it? Then pick up your pen or touch your fingers to the keyboard and free your first word onto the page.

You don’t know what your book is about? If you listen it will tell you. If you surrender, it will guide you. If you let it, it will write itself.

Life can be like that too. When God or our higher self or our intuition or our gut guides us in a particular direction, our responsibility is to surrender -- using our discernment, of course...a discernment that gets sharpened and honed with each experience.

We can no more figure out the bigger life picture with its infinite possibility than we can the bigger creative picture with its. In both cases, the full potential lies so far beyond our imagining that, truly, surrender is the only viable option.

• What can you surrender to today?

• In your writing?

• In your life?

Whatever it is, do it! Surrender, now.

Adapted from The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write, (c) 2008 Mark David Gerson

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Infinite Possibility, Infinite Flow

A version of this piece first appeared in my no-longer-active New Earth Chronicles blog two years ago, long before the financial meltdown of 2009. In rereading it tonight, it feels as current now as it did then. And so I reprint it here for you.

"You enter into this lifetime in the leap of faith your soul takes into the being in your mother’s womb. You take that one huge leap only to discover that such leaps never cease being demanded of you."
The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write

In recent weeks, several friends who are experiencing financial challenges have posed this question to me:

Why is that so many aspects of my life seem to be flowing, but when it comes to money, I feel so stuck?

Or, Why is it that when I’m meditating or writing, I feel alive and vibrant, as though I’m living at the highest of frequencies, but when it comes to finances, I come crashing back to earth?

These are important questions and the answers are both simple and complex.

They remind me of a time in my life of profound financial struggle, a time when both these questions were constantly on my mind.

We were living on Maui then, in the coastal community of Kihei. Here, in this amazing Pacific paradise, money was a constant challenge. And despite my two jobs and our weekends selling crystals at the island's flea market, there never seemed to be enough to cover all our bills.

Kihei was supposed to have been a landing place, we thought, our first stop on the climb to prosperity. Our desired destination was the tourist-free -- and pricier -- uplands of Kula.

Every few weeks we'd drive up the mountain, often to the lush hills of Olinda, where we'd gaze admiringly at the handsome homes and go walking in Olinda's serene experimental forest.

While strolling among the stately pines, anything seemed possible: infinite abundance, an Olinda mansion, work that impassioned us... It all felt within our grasp. Easily.

And then we'd drive back down the mountain to Kihei, down to our tiny condo with its overdue rent and overdue bills, back to the jobs I hated, back to a life that never seemed to be in flow.

By the time we reached sea level, the "Olinda Effect," as we'd dubbed it, had fully kicked in: We were anxious, fearful and no longer in that anything-is-possible Olinda resonance.

I’ve thought about that story a lot as I’ve reflected on my friends' questions and on my time both on Maui and now in Albuquerque.

It's said that if you do what you love, the money will follow. But money follows, when it does, not because we're doing what we love. It follows because in living our passion we are living at a vibration where lack cannot exist, where flow is infinite.

But -- and it's a big "but" -- unless we can hold that resonance when the bills come in, we crash back down into a consciousness of scarcity.

That's what happened on Maui. That's what's happening to one of my friends. Let's call her Alison, even though she's a composite of several men and women I know.

Alison loves her work. When she's in the midst of it — and in much of her life beyond it — she's one of the most powerful, conscious and aware people I know.

Then rent day approaches. Or the car payment. Or some other bill that she doesn't, in the moment, know how she'll cover.

Fear and anxiety roll in like a heavy fog, casting a pall over the passions of moments earlier. Like I did on Maui, she comes down from a mountaintop of infinite possibility and finds herself in a swamp of doubt and apprehension.

For as long as she lives in that place of doubt and apprehension, it will be harder for the money to flow.

I'm speaking here about money. But I could be speaking about love or peace or health or any other aspect of our life that doesn't seem to be working.

Whatever it is, the more anxiety we attach to it, the more our fear keeps us from living in the fullness of our highest potential around it.

Our fear will always keep us from living that potential.

Some of you know that I left Sedona, Arizona just over five years ago on what would ultimately become an open-ended 30-month full-time road odyssey. I left with limited funds and no idea how I would be supported.

In those early months, I was very much like Alison, dropping into a state of panic whenever my car payment -- then, my largest singly monthly outlay -- was near due.

In those moments, that still, small voice we can all access would ask, Are all today's needs taken care of? Food? Gas? Accommodation? My answers were always "yes."

Then let tomorrow and tomorrow's bills take care of themselves
, the voice would say.

Somehow, through more miracles than I could possibly name, tomorrow and tomorrow's bills always did take care of themselves. Not always in my preferred timing. Not always in my preferred manner. But in holding myself to the present moment and in knowing that I would be taken care, I always was.

Today, my life is infinitely more complex. Yet the basis for how I live it has not changed.

Even as I still don't know how I'll be supported from day to day, I live each moment (to the best of my limited human ability) knowing that by holding the resonance of my passion, I will always be in the resonance of flow.

Many of us maintain a meditation practice of some sort. We carve ten or twenty minutes from our day to spend in the higher realms.

But meditation can be like Olinda. Sure, it can carry us into a place where everything is possible because in that frequency everything is possible. Yet when our moments of altered beingness come to an end, we can find ourselves back in our wordly life of bills, traffic and conflict, and the Olinda Effect can kick in.

We're called to do more than meditate our way into higher modes of being. We're called to reside there. Full-time. Even in the midst of all that life would throw at us. (See Rule #7 in "Mark David's Rules for Living.")

Today, I live in the Albuquerque equivalent of Olinda -- in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains, 1,000 feet above the city's lowest elevation.

And in many ways, it feels as though I've achieved at least some of what I thought I was seeking as I gazed longingly toward the Kula uplands from Kihei.

What I've achieved, though, has nothing to do with money. What I've achieved, most days, is an ability to live in infinite possibility full-time and to know that by living my passion, living in the moment and not freaking out at the latest stack of bills, the Olinda resonance lives within me wherever I am.

Ironically, the Hawaiian word kihei means "shawl" or "cape." Even in the midst of that Kihei energy that felt so constricting and impoverishing, I was always embraced in a protective blanket of divine love and grace.

Regardless of life's externals, that kihei is always and ever present for us. The more we acknowledge it, know it and live it, the more we will experience it in all aspects of our life, including the financial. And the more that the Olinda resonance will show up -- and remain present and alive -- in our lives.

• Where in your life and your writing can you shift your belief from one of scarcity to one of infinite flow?

• Where in your writing and your life can you hold that "Olinda" feeling, regardless of outward appearance?

• How can you spend more of your day as a meditation? Can you allow yourself to create more -- in your writing and in your life -- from that place of centeredness?

Writing/Creativity Coaching Groups with Mark David / in person and by phone via Teleconference

• Albuquerque, NM / Feb 9-Mar 30 / 7 pm MT (Waiting list slots available)

• Via Teleconference / Feb 24-April 14 / 9pm ET (Discount fee through Feb 12)

An 8-week guided experience of creative commitment and acceleration. It doesn’t matter whether you have a project that’s ongoing, stuck or ready to kick off, or whether you just want help establishing and maintaining a regular writing rhythm; a Voice of the Muse Coaching Group will be your weekly compass alignment to keep you empowered, motivated, inspired and on track.

Mark David's February Events / Los Angeles

Conscious Life Expo, LAX Hilton
• Friday, Feb 12 ~ 7pm
Free Talk
• Fri, Feb 12 - Sun, Feb 14
At booth #505, offering discounted coaching sessions, signing books, answering writing questions

The Muse & You with Mark David Gerson
Radio Show

• Feb 18 / 1 pm ET with special guest book-marketer extraordinaire, Penny Sansevieri. Details here.

Reiki I Class
with Mark David Gerson & Marisha Diaz

• Albuquerque, NM / Feb 27 / 9:30am - 4 pm (Discount fee through Feb 20). Register here.

Private Writing/Creativity Coaching Sessions with Mark David

Let Mark David help you unleash the power of your creative potential!

Coming to Las Vegas in April and to Portland/Seattle in June. Follow Mark David's events here.

Photos: #1 View from Olinda; photographer unknown. #2 North Kihei, Maui; photographer unknown. #3 Mark David on the road, near the Medicine Wheel, Big Horn Mountains, Wyoming; (c) 2006 Mark David Gerson. #4 Angel over Albuquerque, (c) 2010 Mark David Gerson