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.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mark David's "Rules" for Living

These so-called rules have long been on the home page of my website, inspired by the "rules" for writing I first crafted for my book on writing/creativity, The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write. For now, I offer these "rules" for living on a day when, it seems, a lot of us (including me!) need reminding what it takes to live a creative, passion-fllled life.

Rule #1
There are no rules: There is no right way. There is no wrong way. There is only your way.

Rule #2
What works today may not work tomorrow, so you might as well live in the present moment.

Rule #3
Listen to your heart and trust it; it speaks with the voice of God (or whatever you call that divine intelligence we all carry).

Rule #4
Be vulnerable: Share your pain and your passion. That's what makes you human.

Rule #5
Treat yourself as you would your child or best friend: with love, compassion and respect.

Rule #6
It's not what you do, it's how you live (and love).

Rule #7
It's not how often you meditate, it's whether you live your life as a meditation.

Rule #8
It's not only what you embrace, it's what you shed. It's not only what you shed, it's what you embrace.

Rule #9
It's not how hard you push, it's how fully you surrender.

Rule #10
Find your passion and embrace it. Passionately.

Rule #11
It's not about being perfect, it's about being human.

Rule #12
Empower yourself: This is your life. Don't let anyone else tell you how to live it (or not live it).

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

To read my "rules" for writing (remarkably similar to these "rules" for living), click here. You'll find a more detailed version in The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write.
Photos by Mark David Gerson (c) 2011, 2012 -- #1 Supermarket flower, Albuquerque, NM; #2 Butterfly, University of New Mexico; #3 Oceanside Pier, Oceanside, CA. For reprint/sale info, contact Mark David.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Cut the Damn Fat!

"Substitute 'damn' every time you're inclined to write 'very'; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be."

~ Mark Twain

Have you used two or three words -- or sentences -- where one would do?

Keep your work lean and trim. Say more with less.

Look for words like “very,” “actually,” “really” and “quite.”

More often than not, actually, they are really quite unnecessary.

Can you put the previous sentence on a diet and trim it from 10 words to four?

Adapted from Rule #9 in "Eighteen Rules for Revising Your Work," from The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write (LightLines Media, 2008)

Photo: Mark Twain -- damning his very's?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

It's Getting To Be a (Writing) Habit With Me...

Everyone approaches the writing process differently. Everyone has a different way in to the blank page. Truly, there is no right or wrong way. Here's a peek into my writing it is right now...

1) Do you write on the computer or longhand?

All of the above. But no quill, despite the graphic illustrating this post!

I wrote The MoonQuest entirely in longhand, though each evening I input up that morning's output so as not to be faced with having to type up the whole thing when I was done. I write about that experience and why it was so important for me in The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write, which itself was written partly in longhand and partly on the computer.

These days, I do most of my writing directly on the computer...unless I'm stuck, in which case pen and pad are great unstickers.

2) Is coffee or tea part of your writing routine?

I used to favor tea. Now that I have access to an excellent espresso machine , I like to write with a half-caf café americano (milk, not cream!) by my side. When I work in a café, a soy latte (also half-caf) is my drink of choice (see #7).

3) Do you write best during the day or at night?

I wrote the first 100 manuscript pages of The MoonQuest in bed in the morning, before getting up. It was the only way I could guarantee that I would get to the writing. Most of the rest of the book was also written in the morning, before the day's distractions set in. (See I Can't Write Until I...)

Parts of The Voice of the Muse were written in the car on my way to work (mornings). My MoonQuest and StarQuest screenplays were written at all hours.

Although I still prefer to write in the morning, which is when I'm doing most of my writing on The SunQuest screenplay, I do some of my best writing late in the afternoon, which is when I wrote this piece.

4) What's your favorite genre to write in?

It seems that I don't really choose my genres. They choose me...and I surrender. For example, I never expected to be writing fantasy...until The MoonQuest started spilling out of me. Even The Voice of the Muse wasn't a book I planned to write. It just sort of happened to me. And I certainly never expected to be writing screenplays, which is my current focus. Who knows what will come next!

4a) Favorite genre to read?

I spent many years devouring contemporary and older classics -- American, Canadian and European -- and have plowed through a lot of young adult fantasy, as well as books about spirituality, creativity, metaphysics and personal growth over the years. For a while, in recent years, I was taking a break from all that, reading mostly mysteries and thrillers. These days, my tastes seem to be broadening again...though they're still largely focused on fiction.

5) Do you use a pencil, pen or computer to revise/edit?

I almost never used to revise/edit onscreen, unless it was a short newsletter or a blog piece. These days, I still prefer to revise fiction in hard copy, with pen or pencil. But I nearly always edit screenplays on the screen.

6) Do you have any unusual writing quirks, traits or routines?

Earlier in my writing life, I would set up a little altar -- consisting of favorite crystals, art and other (legal) mood-altering devices. I even carried a portable version of my altar with me in the car if I thought I would be writing there. It's been a long time since I've needed that sort of help getting into a meditative space for writing. Generally, I just jump in.

7) Do you prefer writing from home or writing in a cozy cafe?

I have favorite cafés I've worked from over the years. These days, I'm doing more writing at home. But if you follow me on Facebook, you know I have a weakness for hanging out in Starbucks!

8) Do you prefer music or silence while your write?

Both. Depends on my mood. When it comes to music, I prefer something meditative if I'm writing fiction. I'm a bit more flexible with other kinds of writing.

9) What's your favorite motivational writing quote?

Mine, from The Voice of the Muse: "The story knows best." It's proven itself to be true more times than I can count -- in my writing and in my life. So has this one, which also appears in The Voice of the Muse: "Rule #1: There are no rules. There is no right way. There is no wrong way. There is only your way." Another quote, this one from The MoonQuest, also covers my writing philosophy: "You either trust or you do not. There's no halfway in between."

10) Do you have a favorite bookmark?

Any scrap of paper...when I can't lay my hands on the one my daughter made for me a few years ago.

11) What's your favorite fictional character of all time?

I hate "favorites" questions! I'd have to say that my favorite fictional character is the one who is engaging me in a given moment.

12) Who's your most admired living writer today?

See #11.

• What are your writing habits? How have they changed over the years? Please share them here.

• Both The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write and The MoonQuest: A True Fantasy, are available on my website and Amazon, as is The Voice of the Muse Companion: Guided Mediations for Writers. The MoonQuest is now on its way to feature-film production.

• Please "like" The MoonQuest book and movie on Facebook!

Photo by Mark David Gerson: Pencil Bluff, Arkansas

Thanks to writer L.J. Sellers for inspiring this post.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Please "Like" The MoonQuest on Facebook!

It's only taken me three-plus years, but I've finally created a Facebook fan page for The MoonQuest. I would love it if you'd "like" it...and encourage your friends to do likewise. I'd appreciate the support -- for both the book and the feature-film-in-progress!

Here's the link to The MoonQuest fan page on Facebook

Also, if you've read The MoonQuest -- or The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write -- and you email me a photo of you reading it, I'll post the photo in my Facebook Readers' Gallery, along with a caption promoting your book, business, event, blog, website or other success. When I've collected enough, I'll repost the photos on my blog. (Here's the most recent Reader Pic Post.)

Need my email address? Contact me via my website or Facebook.


Friday, April 1, 2011

Just Start...and Trust Your Inner Vision

Old Toshar: How do I start? This story has so many beginnings and no clear ending.
Na’an: Where all stories begin... Once upon a time.
~ The MoonQuest

Just start, and trust your inner vision.

Just start, and know that the words that long to pour from your heart will find their way onto the page — thought by thought, word by word, breath by breath.

For the words are there. The story is there. It exists already — in another dimension, a parallel reality. It exists with a life and an imperative of its own.

Just start, and know the words will flow. Know they will flow without having to know what they are or where they will carry you when you free your story to unfold onto the page.

See the words appear as magically as the lemon-juice ink we used as children to create invisible writing. Hold your page to the light — the light of your heart and the light of your truth — and let your words take shape.

Watch the letters form on the page. See them combine into words, the words join into sentences, the sentences unite into paragraphs and the paragraphs flow from page to page to page until the story is done, until the work is complete and you, who started with nothing but a blank page and faith in the power of your inner vision, are amazed and awestruck by the power of your pen.

• You'll find additional tips and inspiration on my website, where you can read my "Rules for Writing," sign up for my mailing list and read/hear free excerpts from The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write, from which this piece was adapted.

Please "like" The MoonQuest's new fan page on Facebook!