Archive for January, 2015

My new presentation, Forgiven, deals with sin, repentance, grace and forgiveness. I did this a few months back at St. Thomas Independent Church of the Brethren in Mount Pleasant Mills, PA. They recorded the message and set it to pictures of me in action. Please check it out and if your church could benefit from hearing this presentation, please contact me.

I try to take at least one step toward my goals each day. Yesterday was not exception. There are a couple places I really want to speak at that require a DVD of a speaker in action in front of a live audience giving a full presentation. I travel alone most of the time and with no one to run the camera, video of me is in short supply. A couple of months ago, I did Pictures of Jesus at a coffee house and they were using a camera to project me to a back room. I asked if they could record me and they did. About a week later I received a DVD of the presentation. It’s not perfect but it will do.

Last night, my goal was to make copies of the DVD to send to these venues and then the fun began. Because of the way the DVD was formatted, I had to rip it, then when I went to generate a new DVD it appeared to work well, until I went to play it at which point the machine didn’t register that the DVD was even in it. I downloaded a free DVD generator and tried again. It said the video would be watermarked. I didn’t think that would be a big problem. A small logo in the corner giving the programmer his props is a small price to pay. It took the better part of an hour because the file is huge, but I was happy. Until I put it in the machine to test the playback. Huge red letters across the whole screen, not a watermark, a neon sign. I was ticked. I went back and bought the full version (without the watermark) and tried again. Success, an hour of my life I will never get back but at least success. So I set another one in and went to bed. The burn failed because, like me, the computer went to sleep. That old Soul Asylum song, Misery, went through my head with it’s chorus: “Frustrated Incorporated.” It was one frustrating night.

So why the happy-go-lucky guy at the top of the page. Because there is a great way to deal with frustration. Those hours of trial and error could have been a total waste, but they weren’t. I was getting frustrated watching the percentages of my project crawl by with nothing I could do, so I set it aside and began to draw. Over the course of hours of computer madness, I finished the drawing above entitled Wacky (available on T-shirts and prints) and sketched out four more. Instead of wasting time being frustrated, redirect your efforts to something creative.

When you’ve done all you can… Do something else.

Here’s Soul Asylum…

So I heard about this horrible commercial Go Daddy made for the Superbowl and then abruptly pulled. Given some of the racy content they did in years past, I figured they went too far, again. When I heard it was not their typical ad, and that it was about a puppy I decided to have a look. I was shocked—not by how bad it was but by how innocuous. See for yourself.

I mean I was in a little bit of shock because of the puppy flying out of the back of the truck, but anyone over the age of three would know that’s not a real dog. To me it’s a clever parody of the old touchy feely Budweiser commercials with an unseen twist that makes it a strong ad memorable ad. I didn’t see the puppy mill aspect of it the critics were complaining about. There weren’t millions of puppies is squalid conditions with Sarah McLachlan playing in the background, just a litter of pretty, well cared for puppies (for the most part). This looks more like a reputable breeder operation, and most dog owners wouldn’t have a pet without one of those. After years of gratuitous ads, this was a breath of fresh air.

But here’s the thing: GoDaddy has been doing ads for over a decade that one could argue are demeaning to women and few people had anything to say about it, but sell a puppy and the world comes to an end. Have we really gotten to the point where animals are more important than people? The uproar seems to have answered my question.

Of course this could all be hype. Someone I know posited a theory that GoDaddy never intended to run the spot. They just created a viral video they knew would create an uproar, get everyone talking and save themselves the over $4 million that a Superbowl ad costs. It’s plausible, but I have no idea if it’s true.

What can we learn from this?
1. Our priorities as a society are really messed up. When animals matter more than people a society is in decline.
2. Commercials done well, tell a story quickly and get an immediate response. All communicators would be wise to study them.
3. If you want to avoid controversy, don’t mess with a puppy!

timevampSounds like a new horror/sci-fi novel but it’s not. It’s something real world that can really kill your productivity and suck up the one thing all of us have in very limited supply, our time. These things get me as much as the next person, but there is something you can do.

1. Social Media/email:

Is there anyone who can go online and not get sucked in. I’ll go on to check on a message I sent and before I know it a half hour has passed and what have I really accomplished? Often nothing. Am I saying there is anything wrong with going on social media? No, but when you are on a deadline or trying to accomplish something, getting caught up in your newsfeed (or Candy Crush, etc.) can be really detrimental.

2. TV:
I have on many occasions gained ideas from TV programs, but I have also lost vital time because I got caught up in something mindless. Sometimes we all just need to turn it off and concentrate. Again nothing wrong with TV but it requires a time investment.

3. Drama:
No not the kind you watch on a stage, the kind that plays out in our lives. Some of this is unavoidable, but often it is the result of choosing to involve ourselves in something that we should have let go. Once you’re in, it’s hard to get out and the mental energy it requires will sap your creative strength.

Of course there are many more, but these three are the big ones for a lot of us. The good news is they are defeatable. When you’re trying to create, meet a deadline, etc. unplug and disconnect. The world will not stop if you’re not online for a while. Sometimes we need to fast from it for a while to re-center ourselves. TV is as simple as turning it off, but if you can’t turn it off, multi-task. Work on things for which TV is not a distraction. I will often sketch while the TV is going. Much of drama is a choice and we get to choose how much, if any, involvement we have in it. Sometimes the best way to end drama is to refuse to participate, because most of the time our participation merely adds fuel to a fire that need to go out.

Sometimes I think we need to ask ourselves a few questions before we make these decisions. “Will this help me reach my goals?” “Will this add quality to my life?” “Will this matter in twenty years?” If the answer is “no,” maybe it’s time to disconnect.

This isn’t just about productivity and creativity either. How many of you have had your day ruined by a post on your wall or a mean spirited text? How many of you have lost family time because everyone was watching a screen? How many of you have had a meal pass while everyone was looking at his or her phone. Even if there is no looming deadline and nothing that needs to be done, are we really there, present, in the moment? How many moments have we missed in these distractions? Moments are time and they can easily be sucked away, never to be lived again. Time vampires suck away our moments, our precious time.


This one is not just for writers, but writers should really pay attention.

The speaker was awesome. He spoke on one of the most important issues facing the church in our time. I listened to him all day and at no point did my eyes “glaze over.” I was so enthralled with his presentation that at the end of the day, I went to his table and bought the most expensive book on his table. It set me back $30 and I bought the last one.

Now before you go any further, I should tell you that while I don’t claim to be a genius, neither will I claim stupidity. I would humbly say I’m fairly intelligent and leave it at that. I got the book home and cracked it open. The information in the book is vital. I will finish this book, but I can only read two or three pages at a time. The writing is so dense and scholarly that I can scarcely understand it. It reads more like a doctoral thesis than a book meant for sharing information. And it leads me to a question. What’s the point?

I mean the disconnect is uncanny. As I listened to him speak the message was so clear. He spoke in layman’s terms, injected lots of humor then I get to the book and it’s almost completely over my head.

Isn’t the point of communication and in particular, writing to be understood? I think it is. You may be the smartest person in the room, but if you want your message to truly succeed, your work should be comprehensible at least to some degree by everyone in the room.

Creatives, this message we have been entrusted with is too important for us to make it incomprehensible. Write (and communicate, and create) so people can understand.

Well it snowed here in the eastern U.S. and it’s about to snow some more. Those of you who have been around a while know I am not a huge fan of the white stuff. It tends to prevent me from doing some of the things I need to do and the things I want to do. That being said, I also know that everything God does is good, so I try to appreciate it. Here are a few things I have discovered:

1. God is truly an amazing artist. Snow as we know is not one huge mass, but billions of tiny flakes. No two are alike. It’s amazing just like our God. My confession that I much prefer when He works in His green palette not withstanding, what He does with those billions of tiny flakes is breathtaking.

2. Back to those billions of tiny flakes. Alone they are tiny and powerless, evaporated by a single breath, but together en masse, they can stop traffic, ground airplanes and bring our world to a halt. There’s a lesson in there for us in the church. Perhaps on our own each of us is pretty weak and powerless, but when we come together, we can make real change. Last week was Martin Luther King Jr. day in case you needed an example of how this is true.

3. Maybe bringing things to a halt is the point of all this. If you noticed in my slight complaint above, what did I say? “It tends to prevent me from doing some of the things I need to do and the things I want to do.” Maybe that is the point. Maybe we’re supposed to slow down and take a breather. Maybe snow is God reminding us that He is in control and that the world won’t stop just because people do.

4. Snow brings with it an opportunity to serve others. Do you know someone who needs a little help to dig out? Maybe you should pay them a visit and give them another opportunity to praise God.

So today instead of getting whiney, I think I am just going to try to enjoy the work of the greatest Artist.

For the last day of #YourTurnChallenge the question was “What are you taking away from this challenge?” The truth is a lot. I’m already a daily blogger on, three days a week on and five days a week on so it wasn’t so much about blogging every day. I’m in a pretty good groove on posting daily.

What I gained was a couple of things. First of all I decided to take the common theme of creativity for each day’s post. Creativity is definitely an area of passion for me and I have a strong desire to create a series of creativity seminars/workshops for businesses, organizations and schools to present this year in addition to the creativity ministry things I already do (interested? contact me at Forcing myself to work in this one topic each day and build on it was pretty helpful. Looking back over this week’s posts, I am relatively sure that I have a decent outline for a pretty good creativity book, (look for it later this year on

But what I gained most from this challenge was the realization that I need to be more intentional about building my platform. I usually average around 30-40 hits a day on, on my best day this week, I had almost 400 I also gained quite a few followers on Twitter and a few more Facebook friends. It just goes to show that even among the hundreds of people that, because of the volume of people who follow Seth Godin and that amazing platform he has built, I got a lot more attention than I usually get. I’m faithful at creating. I’m faithful at shipping. What remains is helping people to find their way to what I am doing. After all, I want to help as many people as possible. The more people I reach, the more people I can help. I need to expand my reach

In this year, I’ve got to apply some of my creativity to creating a larger platform. How about you?

I was talking with a friend yesterday and I shared with her a great truth I learned a long time ago. There is a link between creativity and stupidity. I guess I better explain myself.

I told her one of the first steps to being a creative is being too stupid to realize you’re under qualified. 

It’s absolutely true. I mean if your desire is to be a brain surgeon, disregard this, or if you want to be bomb disposal technician or something where failure is not an option, yeah go and get as much training as you possibly can. Creativity is a life filled with experimentation, trial and error, struggle and success. It’s a world full of possible solutions where the people bold enough to move on their ideas win.

Am I saying you shouldn’t get an education? No. Am I saying you shouldn’t try to expand your skills and competencies? Again, no. Here’s what I am saying: You should never under any circumstances accept it when people tell you you’re under qualified, even if that person is you. Creatives create. Successful creatives create more. Don’t wait till you feel like you’re qualified to start and especially don’t wait until other people think you’re qualified.

You see you’re the only one who is qualified. The only one who can see what is inside your head is you. The only one who can convey what’s going on inside you is you. If you don’t do it, no one will because no can. This is why it is so important that you begin to create. You may have a solution no one thought of, a masterpiece no one has seen. It can only be made, or at least expressed by you. The creation is useless inside your head. It’s value is in being created and then shared with the world.

You’ve got to stop listening to the voices that tell you that you’re not good enough, qualified enough, or just not enough. Of course you should always be striving to be better, but waiting until you hit that mystical plane called good enough is a place you will never reach unless you start to create, and “ship” now. After all who is better, Pavarotti or Dylan? Yes. It’s all subjective. Pavarotti is a better technical singer, Dylan wrote songs that touched and moved a generation. What would have been lost if Dylan had decided to wait until he could sing like Pavarotti? Art is subjective, so are all forms of creativity. Some will love what you do. Some will hate it. Forget your haters and create for those who love what you do. Find them and bless them.

I’ve found myself in a lot of cool places doing a lot of cool things. Most of the time I was in way over my head but I found a way to thrive or at least keep up. In every one of these things, there was a time where I looked out at the people around me, profoundly humbled and wondering what I was doing there. The truth of the matter is every one of those opportunities came about because I failed to consider whether or not I was qualified and put myself out there.

I’ll say it again. One of the keys to success in being a creative is being too stupid to realize you’re under qualified.

by Dave Weiss

Yesterday I posted about building your creativity. A lot of what I posted then could really come into play here as well. It’s great for me to tell you how to get creative, but what do you do when you’re stuck? We creative call it creative block. You stare at the page or the screen and no words come. You stare at the canvas or the block of clay or marble and you can’t see the angel ready to be released. (if you don’t get that reference, it’s a Michelangelo thing. Watch The Agony and the Ecstacy and the whole thing will be really clear.) What do you do when you’re stuck?

1. Look for the resistance. Are you really stuck or do you have an idea and fear is holding you back. If this is the case, press in and do it.
2. Start: Just do something. Take the first flighty, weird thing that pops into your head and start. You can always abandon it when the better idea comes, but who knows maybe the flighty, weird thing isn’t so flighty and weird after all. I’ve heard more than one speaker say it’s easier to steer a moving car and that is absolutely true. I can vouch for the accuracy of this one, because to be honest when I read the question of the day, I had no idea what to write. I just started writing.
3. Give your inner critic the day off: The inner critic is just another name for the resistance. Ignore it and keep going. Keep an open mind. In the beginning of the process, there are no bad ideas. Once you start working you will be able to see what is working and what isn’t. Press on in the ones that are working and store the ones that aren’t (they might just be ahead of their time.
4. Change of venue: Sometimes your creativity is stifled by your environment. Pick up and go some place new. If you can’t do that, change something about the place where you are.
5. Seek inspiration before you need it: Figure out the things that inspire you and keep them on hand, Music, video, coffee, images, whatever it is. Look for it ahead of time and keep it on hand as a way to break your creative block. I’m creating a new creativity resource right now. I was stuck until my wife turned the TV on and different images I saw sparked a ton of ideas. A lot of times TV is a distraction for me, but in this case, it worked.
6. Find a way to store ideas: I try to never be more than 20 feet away from either my sketchbook or my laptop. When inspiration comes, I write it down or sketch it out. These are not necessarily completed pieces, but I record enough that I can go back to them in a “drought” and put them to work. I have shelves full of sketchbooks, and I fill about three every year.
7. Collaborate: Sometimes the best way to break the block is to work with another human being. You might be working on the same project or just working together on your own projects. The reason this works is simple. Sometimes you’ve just been looking at something for too long or too committed to your idea. A fresh set of eyes can help as can trading problems. It’s often easier to solve problems we’re not in the midst of.
8. Take a walk: Sometimes you just need to step away, clear your head, get away from the problem for a little while. A brisk walk really clears my cobwebs. Find what works for you and do it.
9. Work on something else: Yesterday I mentioned always having two projects going. I’ve often found that solving a different problem or working a different project will help me to refocus.
10. Clean: You can usually tell how prolific I am being by looking at the condition of my studio. The bigger the mess, the more I am doing. (Right now it looks like a bomb went off and I am happy.) After a while though, this can become a detriment. You can no longer find things you know you have and know you need or the disarray is effecting your relationships with people around you. You just have to take the bull by the horns and clean it up. (Caution: If you find yourself cleaning for too long, look for the resistance because this can be a major avoidance mechanism.)
11. Pray: I debated about putting this in here, but it’s one of the things I do and it works for me. Hopefully, for me, it’s my first choice.

The point is creative block is not an excuse and we can all get past it. These are some of the things that worked for me, Find what words for you and get unstuck!


Yesterday I wrote about the soul of creativity, which is seeking solutions to problems and/or seeking to make things better. I wrote about how creativity involves risk. Taking a chance at failing on your way to success. If this is the case (and it is), the first step to building creativity is to:

1. Fight the resistance: The resistance is that fearful little voice, that misused imagination that shows you a world of untrue worst case scenarios designed to take you off task. You need to fight this and create anyway. I know this is a common and repeated thought, but I share it again because this is what stops most creatives in their tracks. Okay we’re determined to defeat the resistance and forge ahead, but how do we actually build our creativity?

2. Acknowledge your creativity: I know this one seems pretty basic too, but you would be amazed at how many people feel they do not have the capacity to be creative. So let me just tell you, you are creative. You do creative things every day, just to stay alive. You need to acknowledge that you are creative or you will cave to the resistance and give in.

3. Create: Now we get to the best way to build your creativity. You need to create. I know, well duh. but it’s true. The best way to build your creativity is to start creating things. Anything, just start creating! Look for new ways to do things. Look for better ways to do things. Look for ways to express yourself, your feelings, your complex thoughts. Look for ways to be understood. Look for ways to make things better. But don’t just look, start creating.

4. Create first, edit later: Too many of us start to edit as soon as we start creating. There’s a reason for this, we want to make sure we don’t fail. Resistance to failure is the problem so resist it. You can edit later. You can make it work later. For now just create.

5. Do something new: I’m a big fan of working in your giftedness, but trying new things can really build your creativity. Putting yourself in a place where you don’t know what you’re doing forces you to get creative. I remember being in a blues club a long time ago. There was an old man on stage playing some of the most amazing blues licks I have ever heard. From far away you could see he was different. His guitar was facing in the opposite direction of everyone else… a lefty. No big deal until you looked closer. He was not playing a left-handed guitar. He was playing a right-handed guitar upside down. The strings in the opposite order of the way every other player plays. It was clear he wasn’t classically trained, it was also clear he was amazing. He found a way, created a way to play.

6. Waiting for you muse if for amateurs: I hear so many artists talk about waiting for inspiration. Don’t bother. Most of that is resistance. Creatives create. If you don’t have an idea make something up.

7. Do something weird: Sometimes the best way to jumpstart your creativity is to create something no one would create. Use different materials. Create something odd. Find a common object and do something extraordinary with it.

8. Don’t look at what you don’t have: So many people are limited by what they don’t have. Creative people look at what is before them and get to work with what they have, realizing that they can either come up with a creative way to get what they need, team up with someone else of create a way to work around their need.

9. Always have at least two projects going. There will come a time in the life of every creative where they hit a creative wall. They get to the place where they are stuck. At these times, it’s best to have a second project, to work on. Usually the change in project is enough to bust loose the creative block.

10. Finish what you start. Perfect (at least related to our projects) does not exist. You can’t tweak forever. Real artists (creatives) ship.