Saturday, July 11, 2009
Dog Days of Summer: Mark David's Advice to Authors
I asked Mark David Gerson (award-winning author of The MoonQuest and inspirational motivator to many) a few questions about his habits as a writer.
How do you stay motivated as a writer?
This goes back to what I said earlier about writing my passion. By writing what I can't not write about, I keep my excitement and motivation alive. It's easy to lose enthusiasm for a good idea that simply isn't the right idea for you right now.
I'm not one of those writers with a fixed daily routine. I try to follow the rhythm of whatever project I'm working on. Traditionally, mornings work best for me and, while I would prefer to be writing every morning, it's not always possible with my teaching/coaching/speaking schedule. On The StarQuest I try to get in three to five mornings a week with a preferred goal of 1,000 words a sitting.
I've learned over the years, though, to set goals I know I can easily reach and surpass rather than to set goals that require a supreme effort to achieve. This way, I meet my goals and feel better about myself and about the work.
I've also learned to look at the big picture and to factor in the distance I've already traveled when evaluating my progress. This helps stop me from beating myself up when I miss a particular goal or target.
Do you follow any "writing ritual" to get focused and mentally in the right spot to write?
I have had various rituals over the years, and describe some in The Voice of the Muse — everything from meditation to walks and long baths, from drives and yoga-like stretches to altar-like setups in my writing space. What I've learned over the years is that different projects, different times of my life and different days/moods call for different rituals and routines. The key is to find whatever works on a given day/project and to be open to it changing in the next. The creative process is not about routine, it's about flexibility and innovation and an openness to the changing whims of our muse!
What tips or advice would you give aspiring authors?
Trust the story. Trust that whatever you're writing is smarter and wiser than you are, that it knows what it's about better than you ever could. One of the best ways to stay in that place of trust, and surrender, is by writing on what I call "the Muse Stream" — setting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and writing without stopping, leaving all thinking, editing, correcting and figuring-out to future drafts and revisions. The Muse Stream also helps prevent judgment, self-criticism, self-doubt and second-guessing — all potent causes of writer's block.
Also, write your passion. Write what excites, thrills, angers, fires you. Write what you care about. Allow your emotions free reign on the page. Write what you know — not in the traditional, superficial sense of that statement. Write what you know in your heart. Do that and you'll never fail to touch your readers. Powerful writing comes from what links us, and nothing links us more powerfully than our emotions.
I welcome you to leave Mark David a comment or ask him a question--remember that doing so before 6:30pm EST Sunday enters you automatically into a contest to win Mark David's 2 CD set of guided meditations for writers (yep, I like his message enough I'm providing a whopper of a prize to hopefully help one of you spread your writing wings).
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Mark David, thank you again for sharing some of your insight with us. :-) ~Saoirse