Monday, May 16, 2016

Outside of the Limelight

“The limelight isn’t the only light worth seeking. Achievement is often anonymous. Some of the greatest achievements have been accomplished by people you've never heard of. Quietly dedicating their lives while improving your own.”

I have to be honest, this quote was in a TV show last week, but I thought it was great and it basically inspired this whole post.

We often think of the music or the art that we make as something to show off, or be at least known for. We think if we are that special, we must be headed for greatness, notoriety, and our time in the sun. But sometimes our creativity, our work, and our service are not meant for us at all. It’s meant for someone else, or everyone else, or perhaps just our serve to our Creator.

Many times our talent is best used in our own backyard. No, it’s not quite as grand as you’ve dreamed. And yes, I know you’ve had vivid dreams of singing in front of tens of thousands in a stadium. But I’ve had dreams where I’m flying through the air using a swimming motion, and that likely won’t come true either.

In truth, one of the great breakthroughs I had in creating a life in music (#musiclife) was when I started serving others and their dreams, rather than solely my own.

“We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community... Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.” - Cesar Chavez

Hey, no one said this creative life would be easy kid!

It’s a life fraught with doubt, depression, and despair as much as it is prestige, accomplishment, and success. Those of us who attempt to make a life using our creativity face more obstacles and hardships than anyone would ever know. They see us on stage or online and think, “Wow, they have it so good. What an easy life!”

But they have no idea the struggle and years of work it has taken to get here. We didn’t just decide to get up on stage and be great. It took years of work, sweat, worry, tears, more worry, bleeding or numb fingers, and literally thousands of hours of study and practice.

“Great achievement is usually born of great sacrifice, and is never the result of selfishness.” - Napoleon Hill

But we can be out of the limelight, off the stage, and behind the scenes and still have a giant impact…maybe even more. As much as I like my own music and stuff I create, the songs I’ve written, arranged, or produced for other artists who have then taken them out to the world may be my greatest work. I never saw THAT coming.

And maybe your creative work may or may not be for you! Maybe it’s to help others in some way, maybe even to find their own creative life. There’s nothing like spreading creativity.

“Creativity is a great motivator because it makes people interested in what they are doing. Creativity gives hope that there can be a worthwhile idea. Creativity gives the possibility of some sort of achievement to everyone. Creativity makes life more fun and more interesting.” - Edward de Bono

So think about how your music, your talent, or whatever you do may not only affect your future, but the future of those you lead, teach, or come into contact with. You could be saving a life by living somewhat out of the limelight and bringing to others the creativity God made you to share.

“You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.” - Woodrow Wilson

Have a great week!

EC
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Eric Copeland is a creative producer, composer, and lots of other things, and he regular infects people with creativity around the world. If you’re ready to use your creativity to help the world, check out http://www.CreativeSoulOnline.com

More quotes on this:

“Spectacular achievement is always preceded by unspectacular preparation.” - Robert H. Schuller

“Art is a critical component in a well-rounded education. Art is the level playing field - no matter how rich or poor, tall or short, pretty or ugly to the bone, if you can draw, you can find personal fulfillment and build self-confidence. Art is the highest achievement of mankind.” - Lynda Resnick


“Helping someone come to a saving knowledge of Christ is the greatest achievement possible.” -  Charles Stanley

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Persevere!

"If your determination is fixed, I do not counsel you to despair. Few things are impossible to diligence and skill. Great works are performed not by strength, but perseverance." - Samuel Johnson

The following is a portion of "Five Music Lessons for Writers" by author and singer Louise Marley. I have been reading her books for awhile and recently looked up her site. Very good stuff for all creative people.

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Someone has said that for a singer to succeed she needs the voice of a nightingale, the brain of an Einstein, and the hide of a rhinoceros. It’s a tall order, whether you’re a singer, a writer, a painter, a chef . . . whatever discipline (that word again) you pursue.

Rejection is part of artistic life, whether it’s a part in an opera that you audition for but don’t win, a painting you’re proud of but nobody buys, or a short story coming back in the mail three days after you mailed it out. The fine YA writer Patricia Hermes begins her talks at conventions by proudly unrolling a room-wide strip of paper made by taping together hundreds and hundreds of her rejection letters! She says the only reason she doesn’t have more is that now her agent gets them–and keeps them.

Rejection hurts. It devastates. You doubt your talent, you doubt your luck, you doubt your material. You think of quitting, you threaten to change careers. Then, despite all of it, your discipline puts you back in your chair before your open manuscript.

My college voice students are disappointed to discover that when they walk out the door of their school a bachelor’s degree in their hand they don’t walk right into the nearest opera company to begin their careers. Some are discouraged when they learn that artistic studies never end. And it is often the case that the singers who make successes are not the ones with the best voices or the greatest talent . . . they are simply the ones who never give up.

Yup, it’s tough. I once asked a voice teacher for some assurance that my lengthy study would pay off, and she told me, “If you can do something else, go do it.” She wasn’t being cruel; she was saying there are no guarantees, no promises. She went on to say that the work itself has to be its own reward; if there’s some other work that will give you the same satisfaction, you had better find it.

But perseverance does pay off. I’ve seen it happen over and over in my students, I’ve been much blessed by having it pay off in my own life, and I see it succeeding all around me. If this is the work that makes you happy, that gives you joy, then stick to it. Try everything. Live like an artist. And I wish you all the best in your pursuit of the artistic life . . . in whatever discipline you choose to follow.

Copyright © 1998, Louise Marley. For more on Louise Marley, her books, and music, go to http://www.LouiseMarley.com

Other posts on this subject: 

Dealing with “No”

Why Quitting Isn’t an Option

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Why Bother?

See if this feels vaguely familiar.

You have this great dream, this big idea. This amazing creative thing that you really feel God Himself may have given you to do. You know you could do it well, maybe as well as anyone. You also know that it could be your life’s work.

But it’s going to take a ton of work. It’s risky, and there is no guarantee that it will even resonate with the audience you intend.

Now, for many of us, none of this matters. We jump in, we start dreaming, and we start to make it happen. But along the way, something happens. One day the mountain in front of us looks a little too high to scale. The odds seem too long. A wave of inevitable failure hits us and our shoulders sag.

What if nobody wants this? Why am I really doing all this? Isn’t there something easier to do?

Why even bother?

It’s something we all ask ourselves at some point, especially those of us who fight and think and dream and struggle and push for our creative work. No one else can understand it, and those around us ask us the same questions. “Why do you keep doing this? Isn’t it hard? Why don’t you just give up?”

But NONE of that is from God. Not one bit of it.

“Disappointment is inevitable. But to become discouraged, there's a choice I make. God would never discourage me. He would always point me to himself to trust him. Therefore, my discouragement is from Satan. As you go through the emotions that we have, hostility is not from God, bitterness, unforgiveness, all of these are attacks from Satan.” - Charles Stanley

The most important thing to remember in these times is that it’s likely just a symptom, or an “occupational hazard” as I call it, of living a creative life. As creative creatures, we are emotional beings. Depression and disappointment are easy to come by when you go to mountaintops and have to come back down.

Let the times where it all seems silly and useless be times to debate with yourself the reality of your goals. Sometimes we need a little reality hitting us in the face. But that doesn’t mean we should quit because we have or can fail.

“Failure at some point in your life is inevitable, but giving up is unforgivable.” - Joe Biden

Remember, there are valid reasons why we bother.

1. God.
Remember Him? Remember the Creator of the universe who we feel gave us these talents and these big, sometimes scary goals and dreams? It’s easy to forget sometimes that we started all this because we were called, by God, to do it.

If that’s the case then we should never, ever even think of quitting because circumstances got tough. Or if we do we do we should let it pass, then get back to work!

“When you have a sense of calling, whether it's to be a musician, soloist, artist, in one of the technical fields, or a plumber, there is something deep and enriching when you realize it isn't just a casual choice, it's a divine calling. It's not limited to vocational Christian service by any means. Your call will become clear as your mind is transformed by the reading of Scripture and the internal work of God's Spirit. The Lord never hides His will from us. In time, as you obey the call first to follow, your destiny will unfold before you. The difficulty will lie in keeping other concerns from diverting your attention.” - Charles R. Swindoll

2. Creating.

Like you’re gonna stop…

Right. You? Stop creating? You know that’s a fallacy right there.

You’ve probably tried it before, you’ve actually made a commitment to quit doing that creative, artistic thing you do. Maybe you did it for altruistic reasons. For family reasons, because it was not working before, or because it just didn’t make any money (always a stupid reason to quit something). But it didn't take. Not forever.

Press. On.

There will always be things that make your big idea seem like a really stupid thing to try. There will even be people who suggest you quit, or that it will never work.

And you'll wonder, "Why should I even bother?"

But you couldn’t even quit if you tried. It’s just who you are. You have to pursue the biggest dream you can. You have to stare the hard problems in the face, and be fearless to knock them down or figure a way around them.

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” - Walt Disney

Have a great week!

EC
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Eric Copeland is president and lead dreamer at Creative Soul, a Christian multimedia development company. He helps people realize their dreams every day and is currently staring some big scary dreams right in the face. If you’re in need of help or would like to talk to someone, check out http://www.CreativeSoulOnline.com

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Walt's 4 C's of Creative Success

"Somehow I can’t believe that there are any heights that can’t be scaled by a man who knows the secret of making his dreams come true.  This special secret, it seems to me, can be summarized in four C’s. They are curiosity, confidence, courage, and constancy, and the greatest of these is confidence.  When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way."  – Walt Disney

Everyone reading this has a creative dream, or if they don't call it a dream it's at least an artistic goal. So if we want to take Walt's words above to heart, let's see if the four C's can help us in our quest to get somewhere with our creative passions.

Curiosity

I think this manifests in how we seek out information about what we want to do. Are we actively surfing looking for information about our craft? Are we trying to network and find new people to talk to about how to get better?

"Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined, irreverent and original manner possible.” ― Richard Feynman

Those who succeed are simply those who worked harder to get all the knowledge they could find on what they wanted to know about, then made an informed decision in how to proceed. This goes for creative endeavors as well.

Confidence

“Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

Creativity is one of the things that can get beat out of us as we go through school, and into the workforce. We lose our confidence because we are not encouraged to create freely. The people who are not creative prefer if you are not also si it doesn't threaten their little world.

Be confident in your abilities, and work hard to get better at what you do creatively. Wake up every day and repeat your goals and dreams to yourself. Have faith that God put them in you for a reason, and you will confidently go after them daily!

Courage

Getting the courage up to sing a song, show off a painting, or blog your opinions can be difficult. But if you don't make the effort, then the work you've done creating is all for naught.

It's not about being fearless, but knowing that taking the step out to share your God-given talents is why He put you here in the first place. Sometimes it takes leaving what is familiar and safe to really see how you will succeed as a creative.

“You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.” ― William Faulkner

Constancy

I know Walt said the greatest of these is confidence, but I believe very strongly that consistently working on your craft is the best way to become better. This may sound kind of silly, as common sense would dictate the more you do something, the better you become. But you'd be surprised how hard it is to actually be consistent! You'd be surprised how many people start something and never finish. You'd be surprised how many never even start!

Sometimes I feel like the reason for my success is rooted in the fact that I just stayed with it. I didn't quit, and I was more consistent in what I do than others who would like to do the same thing.

"In essence, if we want to direct our lives, we must take control of our consistent actions. It's not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently." - Tony Robbins

There you go, 4 C's from my creative mentor Walt Disney. I hope they help you be successful as they have me!

Have a great week!

EC
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Eric Copeland loves Disney, that much is true, but his goal is for everyone to be able to explore and find success with their creative talents. For the Creative Soul is a service of Creative Soul, a consulting, production, and marketing company for Christian ministries, If you'd like to learn more go to http://www.CreativeSoulOnline.com

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Your One Big Goal for This Year

“And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been.” - Rainer Maria Rilke

At this time of the year it’s pretty much expected that we would be thinking about how we can be more creative in the New Year. We can easily lament the time not spent on our creative output. I know I do!

But despite these lamentations, every New Year gives us the opportunity to start afresh. A clean slate.

“The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals.” - Melody Beattie

Goal setting is not that interesting to most of us. In fact, it’s boring and sometimes even useless. But usually that’s because we set too many goals or parameters.

Just One Big Goal

This year, how about one big goal? How about that ONE thing that you want to get going this year? That ONE thing you’ve been waiting to do, but life finds a way to stop you from doing.

Maybe it’s a recording of your music, maybe it’s finishing that book, maybe it’s some other creative passion. I know from experience that those things will only get started and done if you move them to the front and center of your life.

Whatever it is, there’s been something holding you back. This year make it your big goal to find a way through the roadblocks, which are usually two or three big ones.

1. Money

“I think money is a wonderful thing because it enables you to do things. It enables you to invest in ideas that don't have a short-term payback.” - Steve Jobs

To do larger projects, especially if you are creating a film or a recording project, there is most likely a cost that is beyond your reach. This can be a huge stumbling block. There’s seldom that kind of free money sitting around and, with so many people wanting to do these kinds of things, it’s hard to find companies to foot the bill. So what to do?

Well, like any business, it takes capital to start. And yes, I am calling becoming a recording artist, movie director, or any other fulltime artistic career a small business.

So where does any capital come from? Well, we either raise it, finance it, or save up for it. You see people all the time raising money on Kickstarter or some other funding site. Businesses start with small business loans all the time, providing they have a strong business plan or a partner who believes in them. And yes, dear reader, there is always just working more or longer and saving it up.

2. Time

When I did a poll last year (which I will repeat again below), the two main answers to what holds you back from your creative dreams were Money and Time.

Most of us could afford to do the thing we most want to do, but we don’t prioritize our time correctly in order to achieve it. We watch TV, or say yes to too many things other than the one thing we want to do most in the world. Often we’re so busy making sure we are doing everything everyone wants, we forget to make sure we do the thing we know we should be doing.

“The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” - Stephen Covey

3. Location

Many people we work with in music come to Nashville because they are completely isolated where they are. Even if there is someone to work with, their choices in studio, gear, engineer, musicians, and then marketing are very limited.

Maybe it’s time for you to look beyond your little corner of the world. No matter how much you may love your local team, you may actually be stunting your and their growth by just doing the same thing over and over where you are.

“Location is all about the efficiency of work for me.” - Michelle Grabner

Sometimes just going where the top pros are in your specific genre or profession can be a huge difference on getting to the next plateau in your art.

So this year, make it your goal to finally get to the dream.  Break through the things that have been blocking you, and get to the life God has had for you all along.

Have a great year!!

EC
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Eric Copeland is president of Creative Soul Records and helps creative artists every single day get on track, make the project of their dreams, and get it out to the world. We’re looking for NEW ARTISTS to bring through our unique program for 2016! If you’d like more information, go to CreativeSoulRecords.com

So, what is holding YOU back from your creative dreams? Take the Quick Poll here >

More blog posts on this topic:

This is the Year

No Resolutions, Just Resolute!

You Can Get There From Here

Monday, August 10, 2015

5 Traits of Successful Creatives

“I believe that God has put gifts and talents and ability on the inside of every one of us. When you develop that and you believe in yourself and you believe that you're a person of influence and a person of purpose, I believe you can rise up out of any situation.” – Joel Osteen

Every day I meet creative Christians looking to figure out a path to making things work. They are looking for the answers to how to be successful with their talent, when others can’t find the secret recipe and just give it up.

It’s a long road for those of us who want to live out our creative life, and to get through it, I think you need five things.

1. Purpose

“There is one quality which one must possess to win, and that is definiteness of purpose, the knowledge of what one wants, and a burning desire to possess it.” – Napoleon Hill

One of the first things we have to know is the why. Sure, you know you want to sing, or paint, or dance, but why is it important? Just to make yourself feel good? That’s not a wrong answer. To please God who gave you the talent? Also a completely valid purpose.

As Christians, we sometimes want to use our talents to bring people to Christ, or set a good example. But just so you know, this isn’t mandatory. For some reason, we are told if we don’t use our gifts only for God’s glory they are wasted. I’m not sure He requires this. We can do a lot for the kingdom with our spirit, words, teaching, and other things that our creativity opens the doors to.

2. Passion

Of the five things here, this may be the most important. If you’ve lost it, it’s imperative to get it back. It’s the one thing we can’t teach people or make them do.

Only you can have the passion for this. The fire in the belly that make you get up early, stay up late, and work harder at your craft than anyone else.

“Passion is one great force that unleashes creativity, because if you're passionate about something, then you're more willing to take risks.” – Yo-Yo Ma

3. Optimism

The power of positive is an important part of lasting as a creative throughout your life. If you don’t believe things are going to work out and that you can be successful, well you likely won’t.

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” – Helen Keller

I am successful because I believe I will be. It seems silly, but it helps.

4. Persistence

These last two go hand in hand. I talk a lot about not quitting. The creative people I know that have success are the ones who keep evolving. They keep learning and are insatiable about getting better and finding new ways to do things. They will not take no for an answer for long, and always want the next level of quality.

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” – Calvin Coolidge

5. Patience

Well, if you’ve read this far, you already have this. You wait, and watch. You stand pat while others fold. You keep doing what you do as others quit and look for greener pastures.

I’ve said many times, the reason I have become successful is that I have stayed with it as the years go by. Many times I get work just because people ask if I am still doing it.

You may be an artist and just by staying an artist get called for an opportunity because someone remembered a previous show. You may be a writer and get a gig writing because you have kept your stuff out there in front of people.

Any of these five things mark the difference between people who had some talent but never did anything with it, and the creative person who lives a full life happily creating.

“What helps luck is a habit of watching for opportunities, of having a patient but restless mind, of sacrificing one's ease or vanity, or uniting a love of detail to foresight, and of passing through hard times bravely and cheerfully.” – Victor Cherbuliez

Have a great week!

EC
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Eric Copeland is a producer, composer, and author mainly because he still is. He works hard at all five of these to succeed as a full time creative person. If you’d like to talk more about your creative life, contact us here.

If you are a Christian music artist or songwriter and would like to find more success, come talk to us at CreativeSoulOnline.com

Monday, June 29, 2015

Where’s the Passion?

"It is your passion that empowers you to be able to do that thing you were created to do." - T. D. Jakes

Ah, but what happens when the passion dries up?

I don’t know about you, but there are times that I just can’t find the passion to jump into that creative project that I know I need to get started, finished, or out to the public. Now for my creative clients I don’t have that problem because, well, I can’t! It’s my job. But in my own personal music, writing, blogging, and other artistic pursuits, I just sometimes would rather do something, anything else!

So what do you do when you can’t gather the gumption (as we say in the South) to get to your creative work?

Well, there are a few things you can do.

1. Go get inspired.

See a movie, buy a new CD, go to an art show, binge watch a new TV program, or go to Disney World (my personal favorite.) Do something that gets your creative juices jumpstarted.

2. Hang out with passionate people.

You likely know other people who follow their creative passion. Have lunch or coffee with them. Ask them about their current creative projects, and talk about your ideas and dreams.

We don’t have to be in this alone. God has purposely put creative people in your life. Seek them out and hang!

3. Persevere until the passion returns.

The main way to get your passion back is to…wait for it.... (See what I did there?)

That’s right, just wait. Stay at it, and maybe just show up to be creative.

"You will not be able to muster passion all the time. Human beings are not built to be perpetual volcanoes. You may go for days just forcing yourself to show up at your creative work. That forcing and that showing up are honorable and necessary. At the same time, do not try to locate and kindle your passion. You don't need it, and you can't have it, every day, but you do need it as your core orientation. Something in you must ignite at least some of the time if your work is to feel alive and if you are to feel alive." - Eric Maisel

It may seem hard and you may just want to quit doing anything related to your creative talent. It’s too hard a life. It doesn’t always pay and when it does it’s really unpredictable. But eventually, that passion will return if you just hang in there.

"Passion has a surprising counterpart: perseverance. So many people quit what could be a life calling not because the calling dried up but because their passion did. Sometimes perseverance is the only difference between what you are currently feeling and what you will once again feel." - Carey Nieuwhof

Sometimes it’s just important to get through those times of discouragement, or when life has you tied up in things that you have to tend to. Building marriages raising kids, busy day jobs, struggling to pay bills, and other things can and will take up your time. They may zap your creative spirit and put it off for a while. This is all very natural.

But your muse will return. Your job is just to be there when it does.

“Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too.” - Isabel Allende

Have a great week!

EC
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Eric Copeland is a producer, author and other stuff, and goes through these periods of passion turning on and off like a faucet. The good news is it always comes back. If we can help you in any way to rekindle or find your creative passion, contact us here.


If you are a Christian music artist or songwriter, check out what we do at http://www.CreativeSoulOnline.com

About the Author

My photo
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