book

Done! The audiobook

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I expect you’ve heard about my eBook and e-course, Done! Finish Your Creative Project in One Month.

They’ve been out for a little while now.

Well, after talking with some friends about it, I’ve discovered that a good number of people just don’t read much in the way of eBooks. As interested as they are in getting their creative projects finished, they’re not as keen on reading about that.

If that’s where you are, I totally understand. You already struggle with finding time to work on your creative stuff. How would you have the time to read about it?

Well, my creative friends, I’ve got a solution for you:

The Done! audiobook

[ https://adbl.co/2QULHet ]

Now you can listen to the book while driving, working your day job, or actually doing the creative thing you should be doing.

Thanks to the vocal skills of narrator Dallin Bradford, this audiobook is a quick listen and is sure to help you finally finish those cool projects you should be working on.

You’ve got no more excuses. So go ahead, give it a listen and get crackin’ on your creative endeavors.

book update

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Hello friends and faithful readers. Some of you may be wondering what I’ve been up to these days. Wonder no more!

It’s been a while, but I have an exciting new update on the book I’m writing: The Endless Creative. I’ve finally completed a draft I am proud of and have sent it off to my editor. I may have overshot my planned deadline by over a month, but life happens and it feels good having finally reached this point.

The Endless Creative is about finding purpose through creativity. It follows the journey of the creative as it parallels the three-act story structure and the hero’s journey. It’s something I’m excited about and looking forward to sharing with you all.

For me, writing the book has been a journey in itself and I’m eager to discover what changes my editor suggests (beside the usual spelling and grammar fixes). Though I like it where it is, I know there are many ways it can be improved. I’m just not sure yet which improvements are the best. Really, I’m trying to prep myself for the many changes I expect it’s going to need, and to not become disappointed by it.

Oh yeah, I should mention that the image above is not the final-final cover, but the artwork you see there is about finished. I’m really happy with how it’s turned out and had a great experience working with the artist, Robert Clear.

I just threw on that text for this post. To be honest, I’m no fan of choosing fonts, I prefer to leave that to the pros.

Having focused most of my creativity on getting the book ready for edit, I’m taking some time to celebrate. I often experience a little bit of a letdown after reaching a big milestone, but I’m also learning how important it is to recognize and celebrate big achievements for what they are. And then I need to figure out what’s next.

I have a life coach who has been helping me in that area, keeping me focused and goal-oriented. It’s a new experience for me, and it’s been a good one so far.

Looking to the horizon and what’s up ahead, I’ve been thinking more about this blog, my email list, and what I want to do with them in the future. More on that later. For now, we’ll leave things as they are. As always, I’m open to suggestions and advice.

I do have a short sci-fi story that a publisher is interested in and willing to work with me on. That may be the next big project right now. I’ve got some smaller things as well, but you’ll hear more about them when they’re finished.

Until next time, I hope you are excelling in and completing your creative projects, whatever they may be. If you need help in that area, you should grab my free e-book, Done! which is about that very thing.

And I’d love to hear what sort of creative things have you been working on lately. Feel free to share about them in the comments below.

Creatively yours,

A. P. Lambert

balance revisited

As I’ve mentioned in the previous post, I’m reading The ONE Thing. In the book, they talk about “lies,” people often believe.

I’ll admit, most of them I can nod along with and say, “sure, sure,” like Paul Newman’s character from The Hudsucker Proxy (great movie if you haven’t seen it). But some of the supposed “lies” are actually a bit harder for me to swallow. Two in particular: a disciplined life and a balanced life. The book’s authors claim both are a lie.

I consider myself to be a fairly disciplined person and I’m all about that balance stuff.

It turns out the disciplined “lie” isn’t so striking. The argument is that instead of trying to be disciplined in all aspects of life (and failing), just be disciplined in one thing. It makes sense and they use Michael Phelps as an example, so who can argue with that, right?

Balance though, that’s something I’ve really got to lean into (pun alert).

We live in a world full of extremes and I’ve always felt that balance is a healthier approach. There’s a balanced diet, a balanced checkbook, even balance bikes (you know, for kids).

The book makes the argument that while balance sounds great, no one actually achieves it—it’s an impossible ideal. Okay, yeah, maybe there’s some truth to that. 

In my mind, when I finally reach perfect balance I’m sitting alone atop a grassy knoll with legs crossed in some Zen-like trance and, somehow, little stones are hovering around me. That’s the moment right before I single-handedly take on an army of Storm Troopers. Hey, it’s my dream, I can do what I want.

Really, that’s never gonna happen. There are dishes to feed, mouths to change, and diapers to load. Oh, and that whole business about making money in order to keep the lights on. Plus the only Storm Troopers I know are just folks in costume.

Life is too full of important and necessary things to keep them all in balance. I get that. But I still think a mindset of balance is beneficial.

It’s better to allow yourself a little bit of sugar once a day (diabetics not included) than to go a few days without and then totally gorge yourself on it. Same with exercise. A little bit of exercise (like a short jog) every other day is way healthier than none at all followed by a day of pushing your body to the edge of cardiac arrest.

The book’s argument against balance is that only the people who live on the extremes are successful. That may be true in some sense, but I think it’s debatable as a principle for everyone. I know plenty of people who have lived their life on the extremes and done quite poorly for themselves.

The ONE Thing offers “counter balance” as the alternative to a balance life, where you focus on one thing while everything else gets neglected and then you return to the other things and focus on re-balancing. But even they can’t help but give the strong warning not to neglect family life too often for work. So even the balance haters have to admit there’s a need to hold work and family in some kind of equilibrium.

In the end, I think we might be talking about two sides of the same coin here. 

To me, balance is not holding everything equally, giving it all the same amount of time and attention. Clearly that’s not possible. Balance is finding the right amount of time to give every task, thought, emotion, goal, habit etc. If you’re angry all the time, or sad all the time, or even happy all the time, that’s not good. Life has rhythms and flows. For everything there is a season (you know the rest).

It’s kinda like a hula-hoop. You might look pretty silly swinging your hips that way and at the start you just keep dropping it again and again. But, the more you work at it, the more you figure out just the right way to keep that thing going, around and around and around.

Wait, were we talking about balance or centripetal force? Ah well, save it for another post I guess.

By the way, here's my previous post on balance, if you're leaning that way.

a creative divided

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I’ve been reading The ONE Thing by Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan. It’s got a lot of good information, much of which I’ve read elsewhere.

Let’s face it, once you start reading those sorts of productivity and success books, you get a lot of the same advice from different people. That probably means it’s good advice.

One practice it warns against (one I know I’m guilty of) is multitasking. The book points out that multitasking really just means dividing attention unequally between two things and, more often than not, doing them both poorly. 

It presents evidence that we can really only pay attention to one thing and the more we try to accomplish at once, the less productive (and more exhausted) we become.

Unlike computers, our minds are not great at quickly switching between multiple tasks.

Sure, we can walk and talk, but that’s because walking typically requires little brain power. Try walking on a tightrope and all of a sudden your jabbering goes away. This is what makes phones and driving a potentially dangerous combination (a little PSA for ya).

As for me, I often divide up my creative attention, and thus my creativity suffers. Writing a book and checking emails at the same time (or designing a game while surfing the web) turn out to be counter-productive. Instead, I should set aside specific blocks of time for each task.

But I have gotten better at doing this (as well as recognizing when I fail). There have been those long stretches of time where I really do sit down and write without interruption. And I feel much better for it.

How about you, have you noticed that your creative output suffers when you try to share your time? More importantly, have you done anything about it?

I leave you with two quotes (I’ll let you guess which of them comes from The ONE Thing).

To do two things at once is to do neither.

-Publilius Syrus

 

Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.

-Ron Swanson

 

Recommend: LibriVox

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This week I'd like to share an excellent resource I've begun to utilize.

And that, my friends, is

LibriVox

(as if you didn't already know from the post title)

"So what is it?" You ask. "A live-feed of a chipmunk farm? A clown car storage facility? A whittling enthusiasts group?" Nay, nay. All great guesses though. 

LibriVox is a database of public domain audiobooks, recorded by volunteers.

I believe it's been around for some time, but I've just begun to take part in it and have enjoyed the site immensely.

I first listened to their latest Short Science Fiction collection (61) 

Here were a few of my favorites from the collection:
-The Eyes Have It
-Beyond Lies the Wub
-The Spy in the Elevator
-Once a Greech
-The Blue Tower

Now, I'm listening to the classic horror story, Frankenstein. Writing styles sure were different back then, but I'm enjoying it and, as a writer, learning a lot in the process.

I'll admit, the recordings are are varying degrees of quality, but always listenable. And, hey, it's free after all.

So why not head on over there and take a look (or listen rather) in a book?

in a name

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I’m sure many of you are familiar with the line from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

“What's in a name? That which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet.” 

In a sense this is true, a person is no better or worse because of the name they bear. And yet, a name is not insignificant. If a rose were instead called a kwert, I doubt there would be nearly as many girls given the name. 

There is a sonic significance, a special feeling in the way letters are arranged to form a word. Besides that, many names have meaning in themselves. If you name your child, “Brave” it would no doubt have a very different outcome on the way they perceive themselves or others perceive them than if you named them, “Coward.”

A name matters. 

Think of those extra letters you get to add for completing a doctorate or becoming a medical doctor. They show something important about you. Same goes for a last name taken from a spouse during marriage or when an adopted child takes on the name of their new parents. It is a mark of inclusion, of becoming part of a family. It’s something Romeo and Juliet were not able to do because of the history behind their names.

Names can give you access or restrict you. They can inspire or incite anger. The name Robert E. Lee today is likely to draw out a strong emotional response in a conversation.  

Names have power.

I recall C.S. Lewis’s love for titles with a sense of wonder. He was fascinated by the title of the novel, The Well at the World’s End.

After reading the wikipedia article on it, I was interested to discover how both Lewis and Tolkien drew inspiration from the story, borrowing a few names such as "King Gandolf," "King Peter," and even a fast horse named "Silverfax.” 

Some of my own favorite book titles are The Name of the Wind, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and A Winkle in Time. Perhaps it is because of the way they hint at something unusual happening with a very large aspect of nature.

I think also of how important names were in the Bible. The meaning behind your name in some way dictated who you would become. God even gave some people new names after a major event or transformation had taken place: Abram became Abraham, Jacob became Israel, and Saul became Paul. 

All this to say, if you have the opportunity to choose a name, especially for a person, maybe you should take it seriously. Or you could always go with a joke name. I’m sure your kids will appreciate your humor for the rest of their lives (I knew a guy in Elementary school named Rocky Mountain, and I’ve always thought Lisa Kar would be a good one).

observe

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What you are about to read is a continuation from my series, The Creative Approach.

As you may remember, the three steps to a creative approach are observe, question, and respond. Let’s tackle that first one: observe.

What does it mean to observe? 

Open your eyes. Seeing those words, I can’t help but think of the opening lines in the song, “Always,” by Erasure, which is obviously about the endless struggle to be creative amidst a contrary society. Alright, it’s open to interpretation. 

Where were we … oh yes, observation! So, where exactly should you begin? Why not start at your own front door? Step outside and take in the world. Take off your headphones for a minute and look up from whatever mobile device you’ve been glued to. This is more than a brief glance—let it all in.

While you’re in observation mode, don’t worry too much about trying to get something out of it. Just let things come to you as you discover them. Notice all your senses: what are the sounds, smells and even tastes? Don’t go licking light poles though, people might call the authorities on you—trust me on this one. 

Consider, how do you feel when you first step outside? Refreshed by the first breath of a new day, reluctant to be shoved around in a tight crowd like cattle, dread for an oncoming storm? Is it hot or cold, wet or dry, windy or calm? What sorts of people or animals are nearby and what are they doing? What do nearby buildings or landscape features look like? All these things may seem mundane at first, but when you really stop to take notice and record, you will begin to see things you haven’t seen before.

One common struggle is to look outside oneself. We spend the vast majority of our time thinking internal thoughts about our own wants and needs and, because of it, our surroundings go unnoticed. 

To be creative, you first have to appreciate your environment. Your environment is where you can draw inspiration. To be stuck inside your head all the time is to miss out. As you begin to look around, you’ll be surprised how a shift of focus will change the way you see the world.

A friend of mine recently published his first children’s book, What Do You Notice, Otis? I love how it encourages kids to pause, observe, and interact with the world around them. Sadly, this has become a neglected practice for many a person (regardless of age) today.

Observation isn’t hard, most of us have just gotten out of practice. But anyone—even a distracted, oblivious guy like myself—can do it. 

For example, on my drive to work I’ve noticed many things I found peculiar: a man wearing blue latex gloves while driving his beat-up silver Honda, another guy holding his leaf blower upright and swinging it as if he were playing a guitar, a girl with a large brace on her leg following her friends who were all in fancy dresses, and a young man who didn’t appear to be homeless with a sign asking for college money. Each of those could be the makings of a good story.

Now it’s your turn; take a moment to pause and observe in the world around you, or, even better, schedule some time and find a place to so do. You might even want to take a journal along for recording purposes. 

When you stop to look around, you’ll discover a world which was previously hidden to you, though it may have been right under your nose (it also helps you avoid stepping into anything … unpleasant). This will set off the sparks to ignite your creative drive and get those wheels in your head turning right round. Besides all that, you’ll find observing can be very fun (I myself am an avid people-watcher).

 

Here’s looking at you kid,

A.P. Lambert

 

Hey Creatives, do you make it a point to stop and take in your surroundings? If so, what have you noticed lately? Let us know in the comments below.

 

Links to the rest of the series:

The Creative Approach

Observe (current)

Question

Respond

recycled

Have you ever re-used parts from old projects and re-purposed them for new ones? This practice can be a great way to start with something more than a blank page as well as save yourself a bit of time and effort.

If I haven’t mentioned it before, I’m writing a sci-fi novel (don’t worry, you can be sure I’ll mention it again). It’s called Matter of the Heart. The cover isn’t quite finished yet, but the design I have now was actually a re-work of an old college project. We had to design a large-scale environment in 3D. Here was my initial concept sketch:

And this was my final project:

Yeah, so it's very ... glow-y. Believe me, it looked much better when I made it way back when. Admittedly, most 3D artworks (games and movies as well) don’t hold up over time.

Even so, I was able to open up my old Maya file (it’s a 3D software, for the uninitiated), make some changes and now, voilá! 

Even though you can tell I used parts of the same model, the results are very different. It's still a work in progress, but I like where it's going. If you’re curious about the story itself, well you’ll just have to stay tuned.

 

Hey Creatives, have you recycled any of your own projects before? Let us know in the comments below.