Saturday, April 30, 2011

Mark David's "Rules" for Writing

These so-called rules, adapted from the ones I crafted for my book on writing/creativity, The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write, are intentionally similar to my other set of "rules," for living.

They're similar because I believe that the same precepts that can guide us to more creative, imaginative, expressive, passion-filled and spontaneous writing and artistry apply equally to living a more creative, imaginative, expressive, passion-filled and spontaneous life.

Rule #1
There are no rules: How can there be when creativity is all about breaking new ground and breaking old rules?

Rule #2
Be in the moment: Focus only on the word you're writing. The next one will come if you don't worry about it.

Rule #3
Trust the voice of your Muse without judgment or censorship. It's smarter than you are and knows the story better than you ever will.

Rule #4
Be vulnerable: Write from a place of powerful emotion, especially the one you'd rather not write about.

Rule #5
Love yourself and your words...every draft.

Rule #6
Don't force your words into the straitjacket of your preconceptions and expectations. Free them to take on the form that is theirs.

Rule #7
If you're feeling stuck, keep your pen moving. Write anything!

Rule #8
Always go with first thoughts. Second-thoughts are self-censoring thoughts.

Rule #9
You're not in charge, so get out of the way and let your story have its way with you.

Rule #10
Write: Commit to yourself as the writer you are.

Rule #11
Set easy goals and meet them. Set yourself up for success not for failure.

Rule #12
Empower yourself: This is your creative journey. Don't let anyone else take charge of it.

Rule #13
There are no rules. None. Never.

Click here to read my "rules" for living. You'll find a more detailed version of the writing rules in The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write and on The Voice of the Muse Companion: Guided Meditations for Writers.

• Artwork -- #1 Mark David's hand, standing in for that of Old Toshar in the The MoonQuest; #2 The Elderbard's scroll in The MoonQuest book, designed by Angela Farley; #3 The Muse in The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write, designed by Richard Crookes.


Teri O said...

Love it. Going to live by it...


Mark David Gerson said...

Awesome, Teri!

Barbara Kaplan said...

Wonderful words and principles...I will take them with me to my computer when I write and beyond.

Mark David Gerson said...

@Barbara - :-)

JoAnn "Joie" Melton said...

Today, as I read the leaving Canada post on "Acts of Surrender" [under process] a sense of leaving some of my baggage off to the side of some road encompassed me. The fear dissipated and transformed into wonder. The term awesome is all I can say, as I am in awe. Thank you for all of the ways you share and encourage. JoJo

Mark David Gerson said...

Thanks, JoAnn, for taking the time to post a comment. I'm glad that piece affected you so powerfully. Just wondering, though, why you posted your comment here, rather than on the piece itself!

SarahJane said...

Do your 13 rules of writing apply to memoirs as well, no matter how hurtful? I was told by a publisher to take my blogs down before I was sued or held liable. I now have 2 pages posted on and am starting over after near 80,000 words.

Mark David Gerson said...

Good question, SarahJane. While I can't speak to either legal or publishing issues, I would say that in the rules absolutely apply in your early, still-private drafts. I have a separate, though related, set of "rules" for memoir-writing that I use when I teach my memoirs workshop. But the bottom line is that it's important for you to get whatever stories out of you that need to be written. But then it's also up to you to discern what it's appropriate to make public. And, of course, where legal liability may be an issue, it's wise to consult a lawyer.

SarahJane said...

I've been told no publisher would ever look at my writings because of the liability issues. I would think that no one would ever be published if that were the case. It takes a good agent to spot the talent and then a good editting team to protect both the author and house, yes?

Mark David Gerson said...

That's certainly true in theory. In practice, publishers are more risk-averse than ever, and unless it's a potential blockbuster, few publishers are prepared to assigned the kinds of editing/legal resources to a manuscript that you're suggesting out to be in place.

As for the content of memoirs, not all, of course, are potentially libelous.

If you have an agent, I would have this particular discussion with him or her.

One solution might be to self-publish. But even then, if there are potential libel issues, you would be wise to seek the kind of legal/editing help that would steer you through those waters.

Good luck!

TJ Marshall said...

Mr Gerson,

I am a very new writer,(started writing in January 2012) and working on my first novel.

I've found that when asked about what my story is about, all I can come up with is "I'm not entirely certain yet, it's not writen."

I really enjoyed reading your rules to writing, especially rule 13. Thank you for posting them.

Mark David Gerson said...

Thanks for the comment, TJ. Good luck on that novel!!