goals

book update

2018-09-20-EC_v01.jpg

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

priority word

I’ve heard that the word priority originally didn’t have a plural version. In other words, it just meant the one thing you put above everything else. 

A

Single 

Priority

But today we can’t accept that. There are too many important things in our lives and so we end up with many competing priorities. 

I believe this is, in part, one reason why so many people are so stressed out. Multi-tasking is a cultural mandate, one which is killing us. Trying to keep all those plates spinning at once without letting a single one drop soon becomes a near impossible task and even if we do pull it off for a time, we’re awkward and clumsy about it. No matter how good we are, eventually, one of those plates is going to come crashing down on our heads. Then we get all depressed about it because we couldn’t pull off the impossible. And no plate-ituds are gonna make us feel any better about it.

So yeah, I’ve broken a few plates in my day. 

There is a beauty to single-mindedness: stubbornly placing something above everything else on our to-do list, every time. I’m reminded of Paul’s words in Philippians 3:13, 14

“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, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Like him or not, you've got to hand it to him, the guy knew what he was about. He had a single, clear goal that everything else fell beneath and was seen in light of. 

I must admit, I’m terribly bad at having a “one thing I do.” It’s an area where I really want and need to improve. Perhaps you do to. But how should we do it? Here’s a simple suggestion: pick a watchword.

After reading my post on FOCUS, my coworker, Colleen, told me her word for the year actually was “focus.” It struck me, this is a great and relatively easy way to center your mind and actions on a singular thing. 

Pick one word, write it down somewhere you’ll see it all the time and continue to reflect upon it. Are the things you’re doing line up with that goal?

Like my coworker, you could have one word for the year, or even for the month, maybe just the week. Whatever the case, pick one which means something to you and helps you prioritize your priorities.

 

If you're wondering, my word is: Onomatopoeia.

Kidding, kidding. I don't even know how I'd live that out, just making strange noises all the time. But I already do that, quite well might I add. No, my actual word, for realsies, is:

Persistent

From dictionary.com

  1. persisting, especially in spite of opposition, obstacles,discouragement, etc.; persevering

  2. lasting or enduring tenaciously

  3. constantly repeated; continued

     

So there you have it, persistent.  

Say, what's your word?

 

Creatively yours,

A.P. Lambert

the problem with small

Here’s a thing I’ve noticed: small dogs can be pretty dang annoying (my apologies if you own a small dog, but it’s true). Yes, they can be cute as well, but too often they bark nonstop and are totally out of control like a kid on cotton candy crack.

But you know what, I don’t think it’s the dog’s fault. The problem, as I see it, is many small dog owners (to clarify, the owners are normal-sized, it’s their canines who are small here—well, the owners could be small, but that’s irrelevant) don’t think training their dog is important. Why is this? Likely because it’s easy to overpower the dog to make it do what they want. They don’t have to teach the dog to obey and so they don’t.

So I’ve got a bone to pick with these people: just because their dog is small doesn’t mean it’s unimportant. Dog training benefits everyone, not just the owner, regardless of the dog’s size.

Alright, I’ve said my peace. Before I bark too much up the same tree, let me get to the point:
We make the same error with our own creative pursuits. We think small means unimportant. Small tasks can be left for later, we can get to small projects when we have free time (yeah right), no one’s going to notice those small details. And, when it comes to free time (or the lack thereof) often it is the small distractions, the ones we hardly notice, which eat up the majority of our time.

As a matter of fact (and a fact of matter), big things are built from smaller things. If you don’t believe me, use a microscope some time. If we don’t commit to taking the hundreds or thousands of small steps to a big goal, we’ll never reach it. Instead, let’s treat the small things (both the helpful and harmful) with the same attention and respect as the big. Small, my furry friends, is the way to go.

Zechariah 4:10 asks, “For who has despised the day of small things?”

Let it not be you. Do the small and the big will come right on your tail.

And really, I like dogs of all sizes, so long as they’re well-behaved. So quiet the little yapper inside of you who tells you small things don’t matter, because they do, do, do!

 

Hey Creatives, do you often find that you put off small tasks, and how do you stay on track? Let us know in the comments below.

F.O.C.U.S.

[original photo by  Alison Burrell ]

[original photo by Alison Burrell]

I’m not sure if she’s the one who invented the acronym, but I saw this from Rebecca Matter, President of American Writers & Artists Inc. in an email article she’d written. When I first read it, I knew it was a keeper:

F.O.C.U.S.

Follow One Course Until Successful

Acronyms can sometimes come off as contrived or hokey, but this one really rings true for me. In a world so full of distractions, I find focus, or should I say, FOCUS (yes, I’m shouting it) to be of greater importance now than ever. 

These days, so many things clamor for our attention, it's stinkin' hard to have stick-to-it-ness, or to follow my wife's sound (and frequent) advice, "one thing at a time, honey."

But how do we do one thing at a time? How many projects have you begun only to eventually lose track of because you lost focus? How many fell by the wayside because you didn’t stay the course? I’ve goat a metric busload of them myself (busload was an auto-correct, but I’ve decided to keep it—no idea where the goat came from though). There is something powerful, sacred even, about maintaining focus—being single-minded. 

There isn’t a person out there who couldn’t benefit from this practice. But why is focus (or FOCUS) so hard? Perhaps our goals aren’t clear enough, or we don’t want them badly enough. Maybe our priorities are a little off. Could be all those advertisements and temptations have gotten the better of us. Whatever the case, it’s time to zero in, to batter (or batten, if you must) down the hatches, to rustle up the chickens, to … you get the idea. It’s time to pick a course and follow it until successful.

Imagine you’re a pilot with dreams of traveling the world. Well, if you’ve got a license, aircraft, fuel and the right skills, you can. What if you’re on the way to London when, halfway through, you decide you’d rather go to Australia. You change course and start going there. But then, two hours away, you decide Tokyo might be more interesting for a first stop, so you redirect once more. What’ll happen if you keep this up? You won’t go anywhere and eventually you’ll run out of fuel and crash into the big blue. The same happens in life: every time you switch gears, you’re exhausting resources while not really getting anywhere. Here’s the thing: like a pilot, you can go just about anywhere, but you can only go one place at a time. Pick your destination and go. If something changes on the way (say the airport is closed due to weather conditions), so be it, but either way, you’ve got to land somewhere so pick a new destination (one nearby) and go there instead.

This practice of focus works just as much in daily life as it does for projects with a longer timeline. We might get halfway through an online article, jump to Facebook to check if someone has liked our status, hop on our email, switch to our favorite game app for a few turns, all while we were in the process of getting dressed for the day. Instead of this frantic attempt at multitasking, let’s move with purpose: pick one thing and do it until it’s done, then move on to the next, with purpose.

Maybe you get caught up on the last part, successful. Everything can’t always end up a success, right? Tis true. Then I suggest you follow the course you’ve set until you reach a natural end—a conclusion. Every good book comes to a conclusion, even if it isn’t a happy one; it’s clear the story has ended and it would make no sense for anything more to be written in that particular narrative. So it is with any task you may take on. You’ve got to stick to it until you have a darn good reason not to. But when the time comes to let go, cut your ties (and your losses) and move on to the next thing. If we allow the things we’ll never finish cling to us, we become like a hot-air balloon with too many sandbags attached, barely getting off the ground. Time to drop them and soar high.

Let’s all work at eliminating distractions and moving onward with FOCUS (sorry about all the shouting, really). Pick one thing and stick to it until you reach the end, whatever it may be. If you do, I know you’ll be surprised at the progress you make, and what you learn in the process.

 

Creatively yours,

A.P. Lambert

 

Hey Creatives, what is one area in your life where you could use more FOCUS? Let us know in the comments below.