Monday, September 18, 2017

Such Little Time

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” – Steve Jobs

We have a finite time on this earth to create. That has never been more clear to me than watching my mother lose her desire and then her ability to create in her battle with cancer. A pianist for 70 years, a church organist for over 40, and more recently a painter, she recently lost the will to play or create when the cancer began to ravage her body. More intense and devastating than we (and very likely she) imagined, this life long creative saw her only focus being on getting through each day, and then just surviving.

This  should make us all mindful of our short time not only on this earth, but the small window we have to create as the great Creator made us in His image. We have to get to work people!

I always find it funny when people who have the talent to do something just don’t. I find it frustrating when I find a new music artist and look back to see they stopped making records, or only have one or two recordings and no more. Now, I know that doesn’t mean they likely quit making music, but maybe just didn’t have a way or the help to get it out there.

All of us have many ideas for creative projects. I’ve been sitting on two albums myself, and finally just got my new piano record out recently. But I have many more projects in production or in line for creation. A new jazz record which I’m sure fans of that brand would love to hear (probably wondering why we haven’t released more things like I lamented about others above!) I have novels, more albums, stories, musicals, TV shows, and many other ideas in the hopper.

The Dreaded Work Problem

So why aren’t I getting to them? Probably the same reason you aren’t getting to yours, and they have nothing to do with being incapacitated, sickness, or even laziness.

We all have this thing “work” to do. That thing we have to do in order to keep a roof over our head, food on the table, and bills paid. Very few people I know can both create what they want and have it make their entire living. It’s actually very stressing to do. It can make being creative seem like a real slog and like actual work. And the last thing you want is creating to feel like work you want to get away from.

Now those who know me as a music producer, music arranger, and even composer may think my work for clients would be fulfilling enough. I must say I am lucky that I do get paid to do creative tasks all day. But still, there is an extra mile of joy when you release your own creations that came from your brain.

I think the key is to find and make time, and even squirrel away dollars to let your personal creativity have it’s room in your life. Special times you make for creating. Other times you assign for working on the real tasks of getting that creation out there.

If We Don’t Create It Who Will?

It’s not going to magically happen. Someone who cares needs to do the work, and that someone is you. If you don’t, then no one will care enough, even if maybe you are paying them.

I know the pride my mom got from her paintings, and she was really starting to enjoy the classes, giving them to friends, showing them at local art shows, and just the pleasure of creating. But time and age take us all, and it also limits our window for creating.

I look at my life now with a smaller possible window than ever before to get out all the creative projects I want to in my life. I hope like me, you will see the importance of your artistic contribution to the world, and the urgency there has to be with the finite time God has given us on this earth to create works.

Join me. Let’s get to work!

“It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on Earth – and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up – that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.” –  Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

EC

Eric Copeland is a composer, author, and is literally thinking of new projects every day and has since he was a kid. His one focus is to get out all the creations the Great Creator gave him. His company Creative Soul can help you create your next works while he creates his. Are you ready to get to work before your creative time runs out? Contact us here and let’s talk!

Monday, August 07, 2017

You Can’t…Not

“True art is characterized by an irresistible urge in the creative artist.” – Albert Einstein

Some people say they want to do something creative. It may be singing, songwriting, dancing, acting, or some other creative thing. They want to do it, but they don’t do it. This is where I find the true drop off between the people who are successful in creative careers, and those who are not.

The people who are successful cannot ‘not’ do it. They simply keep doing their craft day after day, month after month, year after year, decade after decade. They have a history of doing creative work, and continuing or re-continuing creating. They may stop for a while, but always comes back. Always.

It’s like a cold that you just can’t get rid of. You could even purposely try to quit, thinking this is not the career for you. You can take another career, and pursue it with vigor, but still your creativity will not die and it will not stop.

You will write down ideas in Evernote, sing things into your phone, scribble in the margin of your pages. Your daydreams will get you in trouble, and your real dreams will have you on these creative adventures in places like studios, with casts of thousands working with you towards your creative goals.

Right now you are reading this and you are nodding, and you are maybe even in tears, because you know this is you.

I know because this is me too. Everything I have written to this point I do still. When I was at a corporate job, or I was in school, or I was in church, or even in some place where there was nothing creative going on around me like a hospital, or a funeral, or a wedding. Even in movies, plays, or sporting events, I was dreaming of what I wanted to do. I’m sitting here still dreaming of it.

I think a lot of people get hung up on the fact that they may not be able to make the living that they need to with their creative skills. And sometimes this is true. Especially in the music business these days it is very hard to make a living in the traditional way music artists have always made. But an artist’s life has never been easy.

To this I say, this is why God gave us day jobs, why He invented fundraising. Who said that your music, acting, dancing, painting, or anything that you inherently do has to support you? Believe me doing creative work to pay your bills is not the dream you may think it is.

“An artist needn’t be a clergyman or a churchwarden, but he certainly must have a warm heart for his fellow men.” –  Vincent Van Gogh

Yes there could be altruistic reasons to create art. It can before ministry reasons , it can be for art, or other reasons. It could just be to make people feel better. But wonder if it’s just to add to the kingdom of God? What if it’s to add to the quality of YOUR life? Or to the life of your friends, family, workmates, or someone else is connected to you personally?

But none of this really matters. It doesn’t matter if it makes you money, it doesn’t matter if it pleases those around you, and it doesn’t matter if it makes you rich or famous.

If you are a true creative, you won’t be able to NOT be creative. Welcome to the club!

“Any musician who can stop may be a musician, but they’re no artist. If it’s in your blood, it can’t stop flowing.” – Paul Westerberg

So maybe just give in. Quit trying to run from it, deny it, or drown it. Stop thinking of quitting because you aren’t getting the notoriety or not making money you thought you would. And definitely don’t stop because someone told you to, or that you aren’t good enough.

Unless you can indeed stop. And in that case maybe this creative thing is not for you.

But I bet you can’t not keep creating…

“A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself.” – Abraham Maslow

Have a great week.

EC

Eric Copeland is a composer, author, and is literally thinking of new projects every day and has since he was a kid. His one focus is to get out all the creations the Great Creator gave him. His company Creative Soul can help you create your next works while he creates his. Are you ready to get to work before your creative time runs out? Contact us here and let’s talk!

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Which Talent to Focus On?

“The jack-of-all-trades seldom is good at any. Concentrate all of your efforts on one definite chief aim.” – Napoleon Hill

Almost all of us creatives face the same problem: we are creative in more than one area. We like to write songs, or perform, or paint, or pen novels, or develop web sites, or produce music or video works, or [insert your creative thing here].

The problem comes when we equally love a few or ALL of our passions. Maybe you just feel like writing today, or just playing the piano/guitar, or painting something, or creating a video. They are all fun! And isn’t that the point of our talents anyway, to have fun using them?

But then our “right mind” says, you can’t waste your time being a jack of all trades, you need to pick one and become a master of it. You even hear this from teachers, or so-called “professionals” (like me).

So how do you choose which one to work the hardest on? Which needs to take a back seat? And which one needs to be completely stricken from the creative ledger!

You’re going to like the answer!

The short answer is you can still do all of them, but we need to break them down by how people react to them, how they bring in support to keep them going, and which ones might just be complimentary to what you are doing.

The Thing That People React To

“We are told to let our light shine, and if it does, we won’t need to tell anybody it does. Lighthouses don’t fire cannons to call attention to their shining – they just shine.” – Dwight L. Moody

There’s a reason we started doing what we do. It’s the artistic thing we naturally did that people seemed to be interested in. We may stray from it, but it always comes back in the reaction we get from people when we do it.

Sometimes I forget that I started all this music stuff because I loved composing. I’ve written music for both for vocals and instrumentals for 40 years exactly this year. It’s always been the thing that has been my bedrock, the talent that no matter who heard it people were extremely positive about (well other than a handful of publishers or contest judges that is). Just a few weeks ago I had to play something for a class I’m taking, so I played a piano piece I’ve been developing the last few years. After I played the teacher asked who wrote it, both the teacher and other student in the room seemed surprised that I was the composer. The next class the student even came up and asked me if I had it recorded or had other material he could have.

It never fails to be the one talent I have that gets a positive reaction and always has been.

As you apply this to yourself, think about that creative thing that people seem to marvel that you do. It’s probably pretty easy to know what it is. That talent is likely what you should always focus on, but there is a caveat to this…

The Thing that Can Make You a Living

“To work to make the lives of others better is the most rewarding work of all.” – John Walters

After writing songs for years and making recordings of them, it became clear that an emerging talent of mine in my 20s and 30s was recording other music artists and songwriters. Then adding in other talents I had in computers, graphic design, video shooting and editing, and knowledge of Internet and programming, I could help artists with just about everything a record label could.

In short, being a full-service music consulting, studio production, and marketing company has been what has supported me for the last 20 years. Yes, composing and my other music skills as a keyboard player and programmer have been part of this, but the talent that has fed me is my ability to work for others making their creative dreams come true.

You may find this true for you as well. I’ve known music artists who support themselves as teachers or church music directors. I’ve known painters who pay their bills by graphic design work. Many would say being a music teacher, worship leader, or graphic designer is a pretty creative life, and it provides a living for you and your family.

So, there may be a creative talent you have that must be top notch to provide income for all the other things you like to do. This takes time to build, and dedication to make you someone who others will pay for this service.

Complimentary Creative Skills

“I don’t have money, but what I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career.” – Liam Neeson, Taken

This is where all those other things come in. A Worship Arts Director does a lot more than just worship leading. They might need to use their songwriting, singing, playing, video, web, and other skills each and every day to make services come off without a hitch. A teacher may need writing, artistic, and other creative skills to lead a class effectively. Sometimes the real trick is having the knowledge about all these things just to make sure you bring in the right people to do them.

As a producer, I need all the skills I have learned to help music artists in every phase of their careers. I’ve been designing web sites for 20 years. I sometimes do graphic design for the CD art of some projects. Many lower cost video projects I edit and even shoot sometimes. It’s here where all these skills come out and are needed.

“Focus is a matter of deciding what things you’re not going to do.” – John Carmack

I like to tell people, I’m a jack of all trades, but master of three. I have focused most on composing/writing because it’s just who I am, and producing because it provides my living. But because I have worked as a video editor, a web developer, a graphic designer, and a consultant for hundreds of clients corporate, commercial, and independent for 20 years, I have some mastery in all these.

So, while I urge you to pick something to master in for 20 years, you should feed all those other talents that come along. Be careful to keep your focus on the thing that people react to, and maybe that thing can even be what supports you. Remember that another talent you have may actually be the one that provides income, and that’s okay. And don’t be afraid to develop the complimentary talents you have as well.

Have a great week!

EC

Eric Copeland does many things, as you just read. He works daily as a consultant, producer, composer, and many more things and works for folks helping them realize their creative dreams. If you’d like to know more go to cre8iv.com

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Slow “No”

Do you ever feel like your entire creative career is a long, arduous journey to nowhere? That no matter how hard you try, all the work, all the pain, and all the money spent is just wasted on deaf ears, blind eyes, and a world that just doesn’t care about your art?

It’s a creative person’s lot. We’re writing each word, painting each stroke, and singing each note hoping someone will be moved. We have been told that our art is important, because we have been moved by other art, and seen it celebrated. And so we labor to create and offer it to the world looking for acceptance and affirmation that this is what we should be doing.

But sometimes it seems like in the end the answer is just going to be a very slow “no”. A long life of hearing no at every turn in regard to our creative passion.

So how do you turn that around? How do you defeat “The Slow No”?

Monday, February 06, 2017

The Forgotten Why

“There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why.” – William Barclay

It’s easy when you are a creative person to get all caught up in the what, the how, and when, and the where. Where’s my next gig? What’s my next song or great piece of art going to be? How do I get a bigger audience? When will I get paid?

Believe me, I know because I live as a creative very day. I understand where these thoughts and anxieties come from. But as Christians, these gifts were not given to us to be used for profit or fame. These God-given gifts were given to you so that you could take out the Word of God to the world.

(Boy he’s really getting preachy, isn’t he?)

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Just the Right Touch

“Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.” – Mother Teresa

Sometimes, I find myself looking for just the right font, the right sound, the right way of saying something, or the just the right quote to drive home a point. It probably seems like I am wasting time, looking for something just right when I could settle easily. it may even look like I’m goofing off, trying font after font for the exact impact I need. Or I try synth patch after synth patch for just the musical effect I’m looking for.

If you’re an artist, it could be just the right color, or brush. For dancers it’s trying move after move, take after take to get it just right. For writers, it’s second draft, third draft, and endless revisions. Searching for just the right synonym to say exactly what you want to say…

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Don't Just Dabble

“One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.” – Tony Robbins
dabbleIt’s easy to dabble in the arts. Maybe you paint a bit. Maybe you play the guitar a little. Maybe you like to write silly stories from time to time. But you aren’t sure, or have maybe never even dreamed, that you could be a “master” of some artistic pursuit.

About the Author

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Eric Copeland is an author, producer, keyboardist, songwriter, and president of Creative Soul Companies. What is Creative Soul? Our main goals are to inform, encourage, and assist Christian creative folks in ministry, no matter where they are in their journey. Thanks for reading! Find out more about us at http://www.CreativeSoulOnline.com