Whatever You Want to Be: Start Acting Like It


Whatever you want to be in life – novelist, filmmaker, artist, pastor, leader, whatever – there’s one piece of advice I’d give you:  Start acting like it.  Too many people spend years waiting for their opportunity, while successful people step out and do it now. Sure you may not have funding in place, school isn’t finished, you haven’t left your day job, or haven’t picked the right project. But I’ve discovered that

Why Creativity Isn’t Always Sweetness and Light


One of my favorite lines in film is when Orson Welles improvised a scene while playing Harry Lime in “The Third Man” in 1949: “In Italy, for 30 years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had 500 years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The Cuckoo clock.”  As creatives, we work hard trying to

Would You Give 5 Hours a Day to Achieve Greatness?


One of my favorite books from last year was Mason Curry’s Daily Rituals: How Artists Work.  In the book he details the daily schedule of 161 artists, writers painters, thinkers, inventors, and all-around creative people. It features their quirks (Ben Franklin liked to be naked, Maya Angelou can only write in motels, and more). It’s a fascinating read, and will definitely impact your own daily creative schedule. While there’s a wealth of information in the book (I highly recommend it), here’s two critically important things I learned:

Artists and Creatives: Should You Quit Your Day Job?


Most creative people dream of the day they can quit their day job and focus on their real passion. Writers want to write, painters paint, designers design, filmmakers make movies – all full time without having to work somewhere else to pay the bills. You have no idea how often I’ve dreamed of having the financial resources just to write books. But my banker and mortgage company don’t agree. They want me to keep doing my day job as well. But then, I started seeing plenty of evidence that

Pastors and Ministry Leaders: With Ghostwriters, Let’s Give Credit Where It’s Due


Over the years, I’ve recommended ghostwriters on multiple occasions to my clients. In fact, early in my career, I was paid to write a number of books for clients myself without ever getting any credit. After all, do we really believe all major corporate executives, celebrities, professional athletes, or leaders are good writers? And it’s no different with pastors. The irony here is that although a significant part of their job is communication, the vast majority of pastors I’ve met are just not terribly good when it comes to writing. So if you have a message you need to share, and a book is the right platform (but you’re not a strong writer) then by all means, consider hiring a professional writer or editor to help. But I just have one caveat:

What To Do When Producers Won’t Read Your Script


If I’m not careful, at any given moment I could have a stack of movie scripts or book manuscripts on my desk that have been mailed to me, and are waiting to be read. In fact, it’s been that way too many times in the past.  I totally understand that many well-intentioned, passionate, and sometimes desperate writers (I’ve been there) are eager to get someone they respect to read their work and give them thoughts and feedback. But the fact is, if most producers said yes to everyone that asks,

The Secret to Finding Creative Liberty


We celebrate our national independence on July 4th, but there’s another freedom we should consider as well – creative freedom. The problem is, creative freedom, like our national freedom comes with a price. I’m currently reading a book called “Daily Rituals: How Artists Work.” It’s a fascinating look at how successful creative people design rituals and plan their day to maximize their productivity.  Reading the book, you realize pretty quickly that

It’s Time to Drop These Words and Phrases


Perhaps since I’m a writer, I’m a bit overly sensitive, but there’s a growing list of words and phrases that I’m really tired of reading in print or online, and hearing on TV. (TV newspeople are the worst.) Here’s my latest candidates for obliterating from the language (or at least parking them for awhile.)  Read it over and let me know if you have any additions:

When it Comes to Your Career, Stop Complaining About What’s Unfair


Over the years I’ve worked with many artists and leaders who are frustrated because of the attention someone similar to them receives. Perhaps the other person got a better book deal, or has a more successful TV show. Perhaps their nonprofit organization raises more money – even though it’s work isn’t as important. The truth is – many times these clients are right. The world isn’t fair. Books that aren’t very good often reach the bestseller lists. There are some horrible TV programs that generate a lot of support. Bad movies often do well at the box office. Whatever the case, I can sympathize with their frustration that others are doing better. My advice?

Who Are You? (In 5 Words or Less)


Today’s personal branding challenge:  Describe yourself in five words or less.  What is it that defines you, captures your story, and makes you stand out from the pack?  Like a movie log line, being able to pitch or describe yourself in five words or less, is a valuable tool.  The next time you meet a potential funder, a producer for your project, a future boss, publisher, agent etc – you may only have a minute or two to