Monday, September 20, 2021

Getting Creative Again

So many things can derail you from your music, your art, or whatever creative thing you do. Jobs, marriage, kids, divorce, or worst of all, the loss of a loved one.

As someone who has lost two dear and important people to me in the last month, I am struggling to find my creative spark.

Maybe this has happened to you. 

Your job is important to supporting your family, but your time and energy there have left you depleted at the end of the day.

Being a full-time (or part-time) parent can be all-consuming, but it is important work.

Any number of things can stop your creative work in its tracks and leave you wondering how to pick up the pieces and get back to it.

Back to Work

As I talked about in my last post, creative success is just about working at it. Sometimes to get going again it’s just about getting back on the horse and trying.

Sometimes work can be cathartic. If like me you write down lists and steps to get things done, you can find solace in the list. Take a step. Get something done. Use it as a guide even when you don’t feel like it. You will feel worse if you do nothing and possibly add to your depression.

Take an action step you have outlined and just…try. Make that call. Email that person. Work on that song. Pick up the brush or guitar or pen and add something to a work you started.

For me in my grief right now that’s the only thing I know to do. It’s who I am and only by doing what I do can I honor those I have lost.

For you, maybe it’s been a long time since you seriously pursued your art. It’s NEVER too late. Focus on your goals. Maybe they have changed or maybe they are the same as always. Whatever they are, make an action plan to get there. Make a list. Do a thing. Rinse and repeat.

Most people will tell you take some time after a loss, or that art isn’t important and there’s no way you can do it and your job, your marriage, your parenting, or any life-altering thing that may stop you from creating. 

I call “fiddlesticks” (sorry for the language. But there's a reason why.)

Time is Finite

I can tell you from recent experience, you just never know how much time you have left on this earth. God may have given you something important to do, and life has just gotten in the way. While it’s never too late to do your life’s work, our time here on this earth is limited. We have to get to work now on what we were put here to do. That’s never been as apparent and obvious as it is to me right now.

This reminder of how little time is left may even lead me to change the way I structure not just my life, but my business as well. Time will tell, and time will keep on ticking (into the future…)

Maybe you also see the limited amount of time you have to finish what you feel is your life’s work. If so, then like me, perhaps you need to reevaluate your priorities and processes, and make a change to do your creative work better, smarter, and more effectively.

Finish Strong

No matter were you are in the race we are all running, trying to get everything done in our lives, we can still try and finish strong. No matter what terrible things, lovely things, or just mundane things that derail us from time to time in our creative journey, we can get back to it. Get back to creating, and find the success we felt was just around the corner.

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.” - Philippians 3:13 (NIV)

Have a great week!

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For the Creative Soul is a free blog and resource for creatives, sponsored by Creative Heart, a non-profit department of A.C.T. International. Be sure to email at forthecreativesoul@gmail.com if you have any questions, thoughts, or concerns.

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Monday, August 02, 2021

Plan to be Creative, and Work the Plan

Being creative is more than just inspiration and revelation. It takes more than just AHA moments and epiphanies to create works of arts, whether they are symphonies, novels, paintings, hit songs or whatever art you make.

Being a successful creative means not just thinking up creative ideas, but making time for them, and then actually doing them. It takes focused planning on how you will accomplish the creative thing and actually get it done.

There’s nothing worse than having all sorts of creative dreams, plans, and ideas, but having nothing to show the world. How do you exist as a creative without creative works?

Um, you don’t. So, let’s dive in to how you can plan to be creative, and then work the plan.

Plan

I already used my Beethoven quote (again) in the last post, but the key is to “do.” Be industrious. And Step 1 on how you can be industrious and get work done is to plan the time for it.

You plan everything else you want to get done right? You plan to wake up at a certain time, take a shower at a certain time, so you can leave at a certain time because traffic will take a certain about of time. You plan all these things out in your head to make sure you get to work on time. Which by the way, most things we do are scheduled from a certain time to a certain time like how long you work at your job.

We schedule dinner. We schedule TV time. We go to movies on their schedule. We even plan on when we need to go to bed and how much we need to sleep.

If you want to focus on your creative stuff and get it done, you need to plan and schedule and make the time for that creativity too.

Rhythms

No, I’m not talking about you beatmakers out there making your beatz. I’m talking about your circadian rhythms. What kind of person are you? Morning person? Night person?

When are you naturally most creative? Our bodies and minds work on a schedule (even they schedule!!) So, you need to find that right creative time for you to do creative work.

It also helps if it’s a time where you won’t be disturbed, so that’s where the rhythms part comes in. If you’re naturally up and mornings are quieter, then maybe that’s the time. If you’re a night owl and you’re up anyway, then there you go.

And guess what, you can change this. I did. I went from being a complete night person, always up to 2 or 3am. I did all my creative stuff then if I didn’t get to it any other time. But I decided to try mornings, decided I had missed enough of them, and literally changed my rhythms. Now I go to bed earlier like a regular person and get up every day with the sun and start thinking creative things.

OK, so we’ve planned the time, and we know when in our day we will be creative.

Work

Yes, work. I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but you are going to have to put some serious work in to make serious art.

Like a job (especially if art is your job) you are going to have to schedule time to do your creative thing, work on it whether you feel like it or not when that time comes and keep it on your to do list until you get it done.

My To Do lists are legion. I use Evernote to get everything done, to keep all my ideas, goals, deadlines, and journals. It’s a great app for your phone or tablet, and also accessible on any browser or desktop apps.

When people start to find out the ridiculous amount of creative work that I do for my client’s brands and then all my personal brands, they ask me how in the world I get everything done.

The answer is I put it on lists, then either delegate it or more likely just schedule the time and knock stuff out each day. I have a daily To Do list, and on weekdays that includes both client and personal creative things I need to get done.

There is no way I would get work done without lists.

Alternating Work and Play   

In some ways I see all the work I do as play, but each job, whether it is creating a music track, editing a video, or marketing it online; each of these are jobs that I must get done. But admittedly, my personal songs, videos, and marketing is usually extra fun for me because it’s all mine and my creative brain alone.

So, what I do is alternate between things for clients and my personal art to get everything done. This helps keep all things accomplished and refreshes me throughout the day.

Maybe your “other job” isn’t creative work, but you can still use this strategy to get creative work done alongside your other work.

Need to finish a presentation for school or work? Do that, and then work on finishing that song you wrote. Need to get the laundry done? Add a laundry switch every time you finish a section of writing, or a recording, or part of your painting.

This helps by letting you do both the things you want to do and the things you need to do. Like recess, lunch, and other things at school you actually liked, this is the way teachers and schools have kept students graduating for generations.

But Schedule It

Even the alternating method will only work if you focus on that To Do List. Line those creative tasks up and then knock them down!

I’ve never had much luck myself with scheduling creative work for specific times like 45 minutes on and 15 off. But maybe that would work for you.

The goal simply is to get work done, and sort of “force” focus.

If you’ll excuse one more school analogy, I didn’t “want” to finish those papers I had to write for the master’s degree I just finished. Music Theory! Music History! But at some point, I had to buckle down and just knock them out.

So, guess where those tasks went? Yep, right in the To Do List right alongside client work and my personal creative brands.

OK now let’s talk about the dreaded…

Deadlines

Of course, with school, and sometimes client work (or work work as I call it), a deadline exists for certain projects. That actually helps greatly and forces us to focus.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to force focus on purely creative tasks. But by putting each song, painting, chapter of a novel, video edit for your YouTube channel, whatever into a To Do list and systematically knocking them out, is a great way to keep you focused on the tasks that need to be done.

Sometimes even adding bullet points under each thing that needs to be done or options for the job, and then knocking down each part of the job. I do this with most things. So yes, sometimes even each creative thing has its own list in Evernote.

Stick to the Plan

The plan works if you work it they say, and they are mostly right. At the very least, making a plan, making action steps, then figuring out the process of working through each step and finishing is the key. The list gives you the next step, and even if you don’t feel like doing it, just knowing what the next step is and powering through it helps you get that creative thing one step closer to showing it off (or monetizing!)

I hope this has given you some hints on how I do it, and that it helps you beat focus and distraction and get your creative work done.

Have a great week!

EC

Eric Copeland is a full-time composer, producer, and creative marketer who keeps lots of dang lists. If you'd like to get help getting creative things done, you can get in touch with him at ec@cre8iv.com

If you're a composer, music artist, songwriter, or musician and would like more help with your music and brand, check out https://www.CreativeSoulOnline.com

Monday, July 05, 2021

The Relentless Focus of the Serious Creative

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Rather watch than read? Click this video! 👆👆

relentless adjective

showing or promising no abatement of severity, intensity, strength, or pace

#

You might notice a difference about some creative people you meet. They have found a level of success you envy for your own creative thing, and you wonder how they did it. The answer is >>FOCUS<<.

The creatives that excel in their art, the ones that find success, the ones that always seem to be busy and showing new works or gigs or videos, these people did something you may not be doing. They focused on the work...relentlessly. To quote Bach, they were industrious.” It's one of my favorite quotes.

I was obliged to be industrious. Whoever is equally industrious will succeed equally well.” - Johann Sebastian Bach

The creatives that you see succeed overcome something that is very difficult for many to beat, and the war rages all the time for all creatives behind the scenes. It’s called Resistance. It’s focusing on our passion and art at the expense of all other passions and arts. And that’s a very hard thing and constant battle to fight.

“There’s a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t, and the secret is this: It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.” - Steven Pressfield

Now this doesn’t mean ignoring your duties to family or your job, but instead carefully (and constantly) pruning away the distraction of other things you could do. You have to focus on sitting down and doing the work.

“The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.” - Steven Pressfield

Just Do It

“Are you a born writer? Were you put on earth to be a painter, a scientist, an apostle of peace? In the end the question can only be answered by action. Do it or don't do it.” - Steven Pressfield

I’ve had people tell me they see me as an uber-creative person that is always thinking of new businesses, yet I’ve been a focused full-time composer and producer for the last 21 years. And before that I did it on nights and weekends since I was 13. Even though I have written and arranged and produced literally thousands and thousands of songs, I have hundreds more to do right now and hope to DOUBLE my output over the rest of my life.

How will I do this? The answer simply is that I will just do it.

What Steven Pressfield talks about his book The War of Art, what he calls “Resistance”, I call distraction. We creatives like to create, and in fact right now I have two to ten other creative things and ideas I like to do and could focus on, from fiction writing to YouTube channel ideas to piano refinishing.

But to double my output as a composer and arranger, to make composing my main income source including ramping up my royalties and working full-time as a composer, I have to get laser-focused. Writing novels takes time and effort, and while I like it, it’s not what I was put on this earth to do. Creating a YouTube channel and monetizing it takes weekly effort and focus of its own, and probably two years of time to get there. I hope in two years that a significant part of my income is royalties, and that only happens if I put the time into composing and pitching. Piano refinishing might be a nice hobby, and a needed distraction. But any time I spend on these any of these other creative hobbies, I could be composing something new and/or pitching it to a library or publisher.

And composing is what I want to do more than anything else.

Focus and Show the World

This week, use this mantra of focusing on your creative craft at the expense of all the other hobbies or distractions you could waste time on. Then show the world what you can do!

“Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It's a gift to the world and every being in it. Don't cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you've got.”  - Steven Pressfield

Have a great week!

EC
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Eric Copeland is a composer, producer...well I think that's pretty evident from above.

Find out more about his composing and works at https://ericcopelandmusic.com/

To get help with your creative thing, go to https://creativesoulonline.com/

Monday, March 22, 2021

Create. Market. Repeat.

As composers, artists, or whatever type of creative you may be, the most challenging thing in finding success is finding the time to do your thing, laser focus to get it done right, and then getting to the ears and eyes that can help your creative career move forward.

The task seems daunting. How do you beat distraction, still make a living, but yet make and get your music out to the world to those who need to hear it so it makes a difference and maybe even brings income?

Create

First you must create your art. This may sound simple, but consistently composing, recording, and preparing your music is key and challenging. This goes for any creative element you may be making. Create. Every. Day. Every. Week.

Maybe you are just making lists of creative ideas, or organizing your creative goals, or planning. Or you are actively creating and putting down ideas in your notebook, computer, or wherever.

The next step is producing those ideas so people can experience them. Producing just means making it for someone else other than you to see or hear. This can be done simply for you to have a recording or to remember it, or it could mean making a final production ready for distribution out to the world.

The key to this is to consistently create. Sit down, make the thing. Then move on to the next one. Or move on to the next thing that we’re talking about here:

Market

This seems like a dirty business word doesn’t it? Marketing. Advertising. Pitching. Yuck. That sounds like a lot of work and not very fun or creative. But if you are hoping to have any success with your music or any creative thing, you HAVE to market it.

This can be as easy as playing a new song for someone in your house, or it could be as daunting as showing off the work at a show in front of real live people. It could mean pitching it to publishers, libraries, labels, or people who can get something happening with what you have made. Or maybe you can make an online channel for your music or art and place it there as you finish each one.

Regardless of how you market, you MUST market if your goal is to make something of your craft. What if you were a great electrician but ever applied for a job as one? Or if you naturally were good with numbers or even a trained mathematician, but never even tried to get a teaching or job that uses math? (Obviously, I am not a mathematician and don't know what they might do!)

Being a creative is no different. Do you know how many people wish they could play guitar or compose a song? Don’t you think if they could they would do it and shout it from the mountaintops?

Repeat

So in the last two sections I just gave you all you need to be successful as a creative. Make the darn thing, and present the thing to the world. Make it with your phone camera, use an app, use your computer, write it on paper, whatever. Then show someone in the biggest way you can or feel comfortable. Show it to friends and family in person or on Facebook. Make a YouTube channel and build a weekly following. Get out in front of audiences and speak to them with your art. Take your song and pitch it to the someone who can get it on a TV show, movies, or make money commercially.

And repeat.

Being a creative means creating then showing, and after that, creating then showing, and then...well you get the idea.

But only YOU can make this happen, because no one else is you and will do it for you.

Have a great week!

EC
Eric Copeland is a composer, arranger, and producer who creates every day and also focuses on unique ways to get his art out there. If you need help getting your music out there in any of the ways above and need a partner in your creative pursuits, check out CreativeSoulOnline.com

We are also getting very busy showing works to libraries and companies that need music for television, film, advertising, and more. We need partners with these new publishers and companies that are accepting our music. If this sounds interested to you, contact Eric at PositiveSpinSongs@gmail.com

Let’s get to work! 

Monday, March 08, 2021

Money and Time

The two things no one ever seems to have in the pursuit of their art is money and time, but guess what? You actually have both, and they may be right under your nose.

The Money Issue
"Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver." - Ayn Rand
How many times have you asked, “How in the world can I quit my job in order to do my creative thing full-time?”

Or how about this one, “If only I could find someone who believed in my music or the art I create who would pay for me to create?”

We’re almost there. Then you get desperate and say, “I don’t even care if I make money at it or am ever famous, God, I just wish I could create without worrying where the money’s going to come from to pay my bills.”

So, let’s get this straight, you want to focus on creating, you want money to pursue your art, and you are willing to give up getting rich off your creative pursuits just to do them all the time?

Well, here’s how to do this exact thing. Step by Step. Follow along won’t you...?

You already have the income source.

Let’s assume you have a job, and you don’t absolutely hate it. You may even like it. Perhaps it is even another passion. 

Hey you wanted someone who believes in what you do, who else better than YOU? And, there will never be someone who you (hopefully) completely control and can subjugate like yourself. 

Now, of course this assumes you make enough to pay your bills and can put some toward your music. At any point it becomes how good are you at your finances, and can you sacrifice in some areas (usually entertainment and personal purchases) and put that money towards creating?

But let’s assume you can. Boom! You can quit waiting for your creating to make it’s own income and just enjoy creating. If it makes something, great!

This goes for retirement too. If you plan correctly, and work all your life, you should have social security and savings to spend all your time after age 62-67 creating if you want to.

The Time Issue
"Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you." Carl Sandburg
Once you’ve decided that you will be your own income source (or perhaps you and your spouse are of one accord on this, and good luck with that!), the next step is time management.

To me this has become the most important thing about using my income to fund my personal creative projects.

It’s easy to spend the few hours you have not doing your job doing other things like eating, sleeping, hanging with family or friends, video games, TV watching, etc.

But the real secret to creative success and income, which is nothing new in my advice to creatives for over 15 years, is to carve out time for your music, art, or whatever creative thing you do.

Yes, you absolutely have to schedule your creative life. There is no other answer. You have to literally divide up and choose the hours you will spend focusing on the things that are important to you. Priorities should be in this order: God, Family, Work (and Work can mean work for income and creative work.) 

How do you balance all these? This is the real challenge. 

If you are married, there must be agreement that your creating is important. If there is not, then you have problems this post can’t solve.

You also have to put in the hours at your job, because that is your main income source to live AND do your creating.

Literally make a schedule.

I’m a big believer in notes, lists, journals, and writing down goals and timelines. If you don’t write it down, and work to follow the schedule, you may not get it done.

Making to-do lists is my secret weapon to doing all the creative things I do for clients and my own projects. And working that to-do list every day is crucial to making this all work. Check out the app Evernote, use a journal, or find some other app or program to help.

Find a partner.

This may be your spouse. It may be a parent or best friend. It may be a pastoral friend or mentor. It may be a person you hire like a coach or contractor who works to help creatives (maybe someone who, I don’t know...keeps a lot of lists and writes blogs?)

You may only need this person occasionally to keep you on track, or you may need to consult with them weekly. 

The key is, now that you have a dedicated income source, the time and schedule set, it’s time to get serious on the creative life you’ve always dreamed of. 

It’s time to stop wishing, and hedging, and complaining, and get to work doing the creative thing God gave you to do on this earth.

Have a great week!

EC
Eric Copeland is a composer, arranger, producer, and maker of many creative things. But he does so because he has another jobs - including helping creatives make and market things. 

If you are a music artist needing help developing your music and brand, including Nashville recording, and marketing to the world, check out http://www.CreativeSoulOnline.com

If you are a songwriter or composer, we have a special program through our publishing company FromtheMomentMusic.com to help you find success and develop your path as a working songwriter or composer.

Monday, February 01, 2021

Anything is Possible!

This week one of our bands debuted a new songs called "Anything is Possible" and it got me thinking, this is something that all creatives need to believe more in.

While All Together United's song comes from more of a Biblical inspirational source (Matt 19:26), in this post I want to talk about the fact that we focus so much on what we can't do, that we never take the leap to what we could do!

"It is difficult to say what is impossible, for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow." - Robert H. Goddard

Don't Be Afraid to Dream

This is actually the first step. You have to be able to dream...to think outside of what you have always thought was possible. Once you dream of what could happen with your music, your art, or your life, you can investigate the reality of that dream.

What are the action steps from where you are right now? 

"Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible." - Francis of Assisi

Do What You Need To

Sometimes you have to just do what you have to do. This may be work, school, or relationships. This is stuff you have to do to pay the bills, achieve your next steps, have a good relationshops, or be a good parent. This is "have to".

But what else is at least possible right now? Can you surf the web for info on what you feel would be impossible for you to do? Maybe just while vegging on the couch watching TV you find some info that could be possible. When you find what you thought was impossible could actually be doable, things get interesting!

"In order to attain the impossible, one must attempt the absurd." - Miguel de Cervantes

It May Sound Crazy But...

This is basically how I start many conversations...LOL. Seriously, some of the best ideas are the craziest, most absurd things you could think of. But no one became what they dreamed of without what some would call a foolish pursuit. Even the most talented singer is advised not to go into music as a career. It's just not a smart buisness move, they say. 

My Dad believed in my music more than anyone, and he still convinced me to start college as a business major. Dumb. Sorry Dave, but that was a dumb idea. It's obvious now, but getting a music degree early would have been more helpful than the years of classes I took running away from organized music school and "a music life that wouldn't pay well."

Was I crazy to think I could be a songwriter for a living? I had been writing songs since I was 13, but the staid advice is always to do something more expected and safe. 

"The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man's determination." - Tommy Lasorda

You Are the Determining Factor

Whether you achieve the impossible or not is up to you and no one else. I can teach people how to be creative, how to record music, how to market it, etc. What I can't teach is desire and determination. You have to want it more than anyone else. If you don't, then you'll never achieve what seems to be impossible. 

I have seen so many artists and songwriters through the years become really successful in their goals by sheer will and dogged determination. Talent is overrated, but hard work is not.

Is Anything Possible?

Well, you may not be able to start flapping your wings and fly...but if you had a jet pack...

This post is just to encourage you to start where you are, think of an impossible thing, and then re-work it to how it could be possible.

"Alice laughed: "There's no use trying," she said; "one can't believe impossible things." "I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

Have a great week!

EC
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Eric Copeland is a composer, arranger, and president of Cre8iv Entertainment, Inc. He works with other composers, artists, and songwriters through his companies Creative Soul Records, Positive Spin Songs, and more.

Find out more at http://www.CreativeSoulOnline.com


Friday, January 01, 2021

Creative Souls Still Thrive!

So Creatives, we start this year in a precarious yet interesting place. Surely this coming year has to be better than last year, right? But that’s not the only reason to be optimistic about your creative work in 2021.

Guess what? Through all the craziness of last year. The Pandemic. The Election. Shutdowns. Lock downs. Closures.

Still creativity came.

Like Christmas in Whoville after the Grinch took everything...creativity still happened.

Through all the madness, we worked with brave creatives who made music and art, EPs, CDs, DVDs, singles, videos, and more. We had people who dealt with illness, death, job loss, no live performing, and uncertain income, and they were still able to do great things with their music, their ministry, and their art.

Even if 2020 prevented you from doing what you wanted to do creatively, you can take heart that the new year, as always, provides a spark of hope. This may be known as the “post-pandemic” year. The rebound year that you can do what it is that is in your heart to do.

You got through perhaps the hardest year the world has ever known, including wartime. Take courage and heart in that.

Stay vigilant. Stay safe. But above all, stay creative and positive.

Don’t be afraid to dream, to plan, and to create. The world needs your creations more than ever as we rebuild from this hard , crazy time.

This coming year can be the year that you not just survive, but you thrive!

Please let us know if we can help in any way.

Have a great year!

EC

Eric Copeland is a composer, arranger, and producer working with brave creatives just like you. If you are ready to thrive in 2021, get in touch below and bravely step forward into this new year.

Creative Soul Records Currently looking for new artists in all genres. CreativeSoulOnline.com

Positive Spin Songs Looking for artists, songwriters, and partners in music for television, film, advertising and more. PositiveSpinSongs.com

Or just email Eric directly at ec@cre8iv.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