One of the cool things about being me is that I have a lot of really cool friends. Who also write books.

Strangely enough, a lot of my friends are coming out with their own books. I’ll share a few now and some more later.

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I really have been searching for a book like this for a long time. Go here to read a sample.



Tyler speaks for and to the millennial generation and produces a convicting book about an important subject everyone needs to hear. “Holiness is not just some fine ideal destined for generations past; it’s the unyielding pursuit that defines every Christian life.” Read more here.



After her parents are killed in a rare grizzly attack, the author is forced into a wilderness of grief. What? Yeah, go here to find out more.

Creativity takes Courage. Announcing the Creativity Series eBook

When I began this journey back in May, it started out as a selfish quest for an answer. I’d started writing my novel and kept running into the same roadblocks of fear: fear of failure, fear of wasting my time, fear of not being good enough, fear of being made fun of. So I went to some friends and some people I’ve never met and asked them the questions that resulted in this Series.

From you I learned that creativity takes courage.

I feel like Meister Eckhart is speaking to me when he asks, “Why is it that some people do not bear fruit? It is because they are busy clinging to their egotistical attachments and so afraid of letting go and letting be that they have no trust either in God or in themselves.”

This Creativity Series has shown me I need to trust, not only in myself and in the process, but also in God, that he his faithful and he will do it. Do what exactly? Move when I move, jump when I leap, walk when I take that first step, and be present when I write that first word.

The eBook

I was very afraid to do this, but I went ahead and…

I have published the Bereshit Bara Creativity Series in an eBook format available here.

It is available for the Kindle, the iPhone and iPad, on your computer, or other devices like the Nook.

It is 99 cents and any profits will go to the charity I work for: worldschildren.org. It might be silly to charge a dollar for a book you can read for free, but you can at least feel really good about the purchase and know you’re making a difference in a poor child’s life. I haven’t told the charity I’m doing this. I want it to be a surprise. Hopefully a big surprise. If you feel so called I’d really appreciate it.

Adele Konyndyk’s post tomorrow will bring to a close the Bereshit Bara Creativity Series, but the Creativity Series will continue with Part 2 and I’ll have more information on that next week.

Creativity Series: Tyler Braun “The Blinking Cursor and My Rising Pulse”

The Bereshit Bara Creativity Series asks 13 Creatives to wrestle with how they make the first move, write the first word, fling the first brush stroke, peel back the first layer of clay? What inspires them, what moves them, what drives them? I’d also like to hear from YOU. Send me your thoughts or a link to your post wrestling with these questions at rossgale4@gmail.com.

If you comment on today’s post you will be entered into a drawing to win Tyler Braun’s debut book Why Holiness Matters. You have until Friday to enter and I’ll announce the winner over the weekend.

Download episodes or Subscribe to the Podcast on iTunes by clicking here.

Listen to the podcast:


Those of us who write know the awful feeling of staring at a blinking cursor on a blank page. For those who paint, it’s the bristles of the paintbrush sitting in the paint while staring at a blank canvas. For those who write music, it’s the fingers resting on the keys of the piano waiting for inspiration to come.

I liken it to staring out into the empty expanse of the desert. We see seemingly no life. Everything around us is dead.

Something I can only describe as God-breathed or magical (depending on your worldview) happens between the blinking cursor, my rising pulse, and the finished product of beauty.

I could write about the four principles that drive me from beginning to end, but those principles won’t work for you. We love to create a formula for creating. The problem is each of us was made differently. We each have different passions, desires, and experiences. Why is it that we then try to formulate overcoming the blank page into tried and true principles and action steps? We should know better.

Here’s the reality I’ve come to know about creating out of emptiness: It takes humble submission.

Creatives don’t need more confidence or more inspiration to do the work. Nope, creatives need humility in order to create well.

Somewhere in the midst of the blinking cursor and my rising pulse I have a moment of clarity when I realize I’m incapable. I cannot do this creation on my own. I do not have the ability. My own worldview informs me that it is the God inside of me who begins His inspiring work once I’m able to get my own arrogant agenda out of the way. Why must I learn this lesson over and over I wonder?

In the creation account found in Genesis 1, God has created much of the world we see around us, even the cosmos our own eyes cannot see. He made it and called it good. But the work continued on as God created Adam and Eve.

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness.” (Genesis 1:26)

Think of the implications of this as it relates to our own ability to create:

1) We are created in the “likeness” of the Creator.

2) The same creative power that breathed the universe into existence lives in us.

We could translate Genesis 1:26 by saying God created us to be His “icons” or reflections or windows. We were made to point to Him.

So what does any of this have to do with overcoming the blank page? Everything.

As we lay down our own agendas and our own creative arrogance for the sake of serving the Creator we have an opportunity for Him to work through us. We were made by Him, with His creative imprint, to go about our lives creating for the sake of our Creator.

Between the blinking cursor and the finished product is the place where we humbly sacrifice ourselves for the sake of becoming people the Creator can use in order to create through us.

True creation comes through no other way.

Creatives need to humbly submit themselves to the Master Artist.


Tyler Braun is a 27-year-old INTJ living in Portland, Oregon with his wife Rose. He works full time as a worship leader, while also finding time to study at Multnomah Biblical Seminary in pursuit of a masters degree. Tyler’s first book releases in August of this year through Moody Publishers and is available for pre-order now. You can find Tyler on TwitterFacebook, or his blog.


How to Keep Up With All the Conversations

I can’t keep up with all the conversations. The New York Times has this one series about fiction, then there’s the Good Letter’s Blog, my Book Forum updates with multitudes of interesting stuff to wade through. And that’s all on top of the reading of my friends’ recommendations, and the pieces my friends are writing (like this), and the conversations on their blogs, and Twitter, and Facebook. So I don’t know how to keep up. I can’t. There’s just too much.

Whatever you’re creating, whether it’s a story, or a blog, or art, or a song, once it’s finished you have to push it out into your world. To your friends or family or community. There’s no other way to be seen. Don’t just put something up on your blog and expect readers to come by. There’s too much other stuff to see and read and be entertained by. If you don’t care then don’t try, but if you care about your ideas or your conversation then share it. Or else I’ll go find something else and so will the readers and engagers.

No one is going to steal it and if they do then go get paid to create stuff. But as soon as you send it out go create something better. Continue this.

Don’t do it for affirmation because you probably won’t get any and what you get won’t satisfy you. People aren’t going to affirm you. You’re affirmed over time by your actions.

All this to say, I want to know what you got. Send me something you’re working on. I’ll drop everything else on my list because you matter to me and I care about this ragtag community of creatives. rossgale4 at gmail dot com

As soon as you hit send, begin the next thing.

books

Anti-Platform: How to Hide When Everybody’s Looking

After two days of heavy traffic on my site while reading Michael Hyatt’s new book Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World I went ahead and wrote the sequel.

My book is called: Anti-Platform: How to Hide When Everybody’s Looking. It’s a step by step guide for anyone who, like myself, is too famous.

Michael Hyatt’s book Platform is super helpful for bloggers, musicians, writers, unemployed 20-somethings, and stay-at-home moms looking for a practical guide on how to build a platform where you earn the attention of a following. And it’s selling out like crazy.

Seriously, it’s selling out so fast even digital books are out of stock. It’s in the top five of Amazon’s best sellers and it would be #1 if moms weren’t reading those sexy Gray books with the hot-compelling characters and voluptuous language. Platform passed Jimmy Fallon’s book and Fallon was in Band of Brothers for a couple scenes. Band of Brothers for God’s sake.

My prediction, because of what I’m seeing in my own life after reading Michael’s book, is that a lot of people will be super famous in the next few days as a result of also reading Michael’s book.

My book, Anti-Platform, is for those super famous people. Anti-Platform gives practical guidance and contains 5 Chapters:

  1. How to juggle your fame while driving your new Hummer-Hybrid.
  2. What would you rather have, another 1 million dollars or your new big-head full of nickels?
  3. How to focus your attention when your focus is worth billions.
  4. How to find some peace and quiet among the crowd screaming your name.
  5. How to create elegant disguises that even fool the CIA so you can get FroYo without signing autographs and getting Instagrammed.

Mr. Hyatt told a joke. He laughed. He had vanilla FroYo. There are two similar looking mountains behind us.

Stay tuned for how you can get your grimy hands on a copy of my sequel. And in the meantime go read Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World.

But wait. Once people read my book they’ll need another guide on living with SUPER-SUPER-FAME. The world needs the writer willing to sacrifice for the greater good. If you’re willing to write the sequel to the best selling sequel to the best selling guide on how to build a platform, let me know in the comments and I will send you the cover image for your future book with YOUR NAME ON IT:

Go buy Platform.

He has lost the soul of childhood

In my own study of creativity, I continue to come back to memories, especially memories of childhood. Those memories contain a power I hadn’t realized. I will continue to go back to them. For in them is something of a clue or a key. Of which Georges Bernanos touches on through his character Curé de Torcy, a priest:

Poor blokes! They’ve worn everything threadbare–even sin. You can’t have a “good time” just because you want to. The shabbiest tuppeny doll will rejoice a baby’s heart for half the year, but your mature gentleman’ll go yawning his head off at a five-hundred franc gadget. And why? Because he has lost the soul of childhood. Well, God has entrusted the Church to keep that soul alive, to safeguard our candor and freshness.

–from Georges Bernanos’ novel The Diary of a Country Priest

My younger fellow novelists are greatly preoccupied with technique. They seem to think a good novel ought to follow certain rules imposed from outside.

I want to lace together snippets of François Mauriac’s 1953 interview in the Paris Review, specifically where he’s talking about the novel. I lived unaware of Mauriac until I read Gregory Wolfe’s Beauty Will Save the World. His best books I can’t even buy at Powell’s. He was highly influential for many of America’s esteemed writers.

My opinion hasn’t changed. I believe that my younger fellow novelists are greatly preoccupied with technique. They seem to think a good novel ought to follow certain rules imposed from outside. In fact, however, this preoccupation hampers them and embarrasses them in their creation. The great novelist doesn’t depend on anyone but himself. Proust resembled none of his predecessors and he did not have, he could not have, any successors. The great novelist breaks his mold; he alone can use it. Balzac created the “Balzacian” novel; its style was suitable only for Balzac.

There is a close tie between a novelist’s originality in general and the personal quality of his style. A borrowed style is a bad style. American novelists from Faulkner to Hemingway invented a style to express what they wanted to say—and it is a style that can’t be passed on to their followers…

I believe that the crisis of the novel, if it exists, is right there, essentially, in the domain of technique. The novel has lost its purpose. That is the most serious difficulty, and it is from there that we must begin. The younger generation believes, after Joyce and Proust, that it has discovered the “purpose” of the old novel to have been prefabricated and unrelated to reality…

The crisis of the novel, then, is metaphysical. The generation that preceded ours was no longer Christian, but it believed in the individual, which comes to the same thing as believing in the soul. What each of us understands by the word soul is different; but in any case it is the fixed point around which the individual is constructed.

Faith in God was lost for many, but not the values this faith postulates. The good was not bad, and the bad was not good. The collapse of the novel is due to the destruction of this fundamental concept: the awareness of good and evil. The language itself has been devalued and emptied of its meaning by this attack on conscience.

Observe that for the novelist who has remained Christian, like myself, man is someone creating himself or destroying himself. He is not an immobile being, fixed, cast in a mold once and for all. This is what makes the traditional psychological novel so different from what I did or thought I was doing. The human being as I conceive him in the novel is a being caught up in the drama of salvation, even if he doesn’t know it.

Creativity is a constant invitation to virtue

Gregory Wolfe on creativity,

I would argue that the truest, most unsentimental thing we can say about creativity is that it is a constant invitation to virtue, that if we step back and look for the deeper meanings of the creative urge, and the lessons of the creative process, we will discover myriad opportunities to develop our inner lives, whether we are makers ourselves or are simply responding to the creativity of others…

The undermining of traditional Western ideas about creativity has brought about a deep cultural impoverishment. Creativity may be only an invitation to virtue—an invitation that is not always accepted—but it exists only in individual souls, souls that must struggle to observe the world, empathize with its inhabitants, and shape an artifact into a form that communicates meaning to others.

Beauty Will Save the World by Gregory Wolfe

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Operating in the Zone a Drill Called Perfection; a Review of Jonah Lehrer’s Imagine: How Creativity Works

This is a guest post by Kristen Dalton. She’s a Journalist for Greater Media Newspapers covering the Greater Red Bank Area in New Jersey. She won the 2011 Williams Prize for Poetry and graduated from Lehigh University where she played basketball for the Mountain Hawks in the Patriot League (DI), helping them win two PL tournament championships while earning two NCAA Tournament berths and a WNIT bid.

We started off every basketball practice the same way: with a drill called Perfection.

It was a simple drill, really. Full court right hand lay ups. Full court left hand lay ups. Two-player passing into right hand layups. Two-player passing into left hand lay ups. Three-man weave. Michigan (another full-court layup drill). And finally, three-man shooting. That was the order, and only when everyone completed each section could the team move on to the next.

Everything was full-court, down and back, and they were all elementary drills to be doing at the Division I collegiate level. Yet everyone hated it. Everyone hated the drill because it had to be done perfectly. Any missed shot, any dropped pass, any untouched line meant your group had to sprint to the end of the line and do it again. Until everything was perfect.

The entire team had 8 minutes (or less) to complete all the components of the drill. If it was 8:01, everyone had to do Perfection all over again. On the bad days, we could waste a half hour of practice doing a drill that had did not remotely emulate playing a game in real-time.

Now, I understand the philosophy behind the drill: practice makes perfect. But my issue was even more straightforward: the game is not perfect. It requires you to be creative and rely on your instincts. So I had a hard time coming to grips with doing a drill that was counter-intuitive to the way I played the game. You’d be surprised how hard it became to make lay ups when you knew you’d have to do it all over again, and worse, sometimes be the only one. It was embarrassing, humiliating to fail so often at the easiest shot in the world. A shot that until then, you had never given a second thought to.

This drill unraveled those basketball instincts as mental doubts disrupted years of engraved muscle memory. This is also known as “choking,” “wearing a size two collar,” “caving under pressure,” and “the Boston Red Sox.”

Or as Jonah Lehrer says in his book, Imagine: How Creativity Works,

We are so worried about playing the wrong note or saying the wrong thing that we end up with nothing at all, the silence of scared imagination.

Creativity is about letting go. Say goodbye to the inhibitions that stifle our internal rhythms and prevent our innovative ways from surfacing. Lehrer spoke with composer Yo-Yo Ma about breaking through the barriers to true performance.

When people ask me how they should approach performance, I always tell them that the professional musician should aspire to the state of the beginner,” Ma says. “In order to become a professional, you need to go through years of training. You get criticized by all your teachers, and you worry about all the critics. You are constantly being judged. But if you get out onstage and all you think about is what the critics are going to say, if all you are doing is worrying, then you will play terribly. You will be tight and it will be a bad concert. Instead, one needs to constantly remind oneself to play with the abandon of a child who is just learning the cello. Because why is that kid playing? He is playing for pleasure. He is playing because making this sound, expressing this melody, makes him happy. That is still the only good reason to play.

This is why I turned to creative writing in the midst of my collegiate basketball career. I needed a creative space that countered the cookie-cutter operation of my school’s athletic program. There was a cognitive dissonance that unsettled me for years. It became clear fairly quickly that I didn’t fit the mold and would instead be modified to a much smaller role that sacrificed the creative, adaptive, run-and-gun style of play for a more slow and deliberate robotic scheme. And we were successful, won championships, went to the NCAA tournament twice. But in an effort to become perfectly efficient, there came the disappointing realization that we still hadn’t reached our truest potential. It also made it harder to come to terms with the individual sacrifices we all made.

For the first time, I realized success and potential could be mutually exclusive. The occurrence of one did not influence or result in the other.

Perfection was wrong about making mistakes. They are not failures, nor should they be punishable or embarrassing. If striving for perfection were going to turn me into a soulless basketball player then I’d rather pick up the pen and try to make myself a whole human being. So that’s what I did.

“There is something scary about letting ourselves go. It means that we will screw up, that we will relinquish the possibility of perfection. It means that we will say things we didn’t mean to say and express feelings that we can’t explain. It means that we will be onstage and not have complete control, that we won’t know what we’re going to play until we begin, until the bow is drawn across the string. While this spontaneous method might be frightening, it’s also an extremely valuable source of creativity” (Lehrer).

Most creative people understand this. They’re actively pursuing that moment of insight when neurons connect in unexpected places and open neural pathways that carry messages in new ways. They are the metaphors of our minds, bridging the gap between life as we know it and the life as we wish it to be. This requires an imagination, and our cells do this every day at the most basic level. It’s like making a pass that threads the needle: you can’t practice for it and no one can see it until it happens. You just have to be ready to make it happen. You have to be willing to look for new ways to say something, to create something, to fire a rope and rescue an unspoken emotion. A two-point lay up.

It is impossible to practice for these moments. They usually happen in the wake of mistakes.

So don’t suppress the quiet tug of your instincts for the sake of attaining perfection. You’ll never be successful fulfill your potential.

Instead, welcome the first mistake.

That’s what Yo-Yo Ma does.

Because then I can shrug it off and keep smiling. Then I can get on with the performance and turn off that part of the mind that judges everything. I’m not thinking or worrying anymore. And it’s when I’m least conscious of what I’m doing, when I’m just lost in the emotion of the music, that I’m performing my best.

Creativity is not the performance though. It’s the magic that makes you disappear. And even though everyone can see you, they’ll all be wondering where you went.

Kristen’s writing is featured in The Morning Call (Allentown, Pennsylvania) and in 2009 had her article “Global Branding: Li Ning vs. Nike” published in the Lehigh Review. She is the creative writer and founder of Inspired Scribble, which is offering its first creative writing scholarship in June to a student enrolled in the AP Humanities class at Monmouth Regional High School.

The New Future to Social Media and Blogging

Brian Andreas thinks social media fragments us more than brings us together. And since we’re all here through a form of social media, I want to examine this room we’re in for just a second and then offer a small solution for what I want to do about it. Because I really want to do something about this:

Being constantly inundated with our social updates tires us out—we’re fatigued and we’re annoyed with each other. Here’s why: while it is true that no one care’s about your trip to Mexico, your weird tastes in music and the dinner that you just made, we still want to be involved. But we hate the self-serving. We’re re-pinning and re-tweeting without context, without collaboration. The Internet will always suffer from social media fatigue until it allows for seamless collaboration among multi-platforms, multi-dimensions, and multi-media. This may be idealistic view but it’s not impossible.

I feel like social media is a dark room in which I throw into it things I like and things I create. And then I expect something to happen. And I get disappointed when nothing happens. I am fatigued with it. I hate having to constantly add new platforms. Pinterest? A Facebook Fan Page? An email newsletter? Those are all things I’m considering adding to my repertoire in order to better “connect”. And I’ll do it. But I won’t like it.

So I’m not doing any of it (except maybe the email newsletter after the summer). None of it at all. I refuse (except that one thing.)

This is what I’m doing instead…

During the summer months because of the “Bereshit Bara” Blog Series on Creativity my writing won’t be featured here as much, which is a good thing because other more talented writers will be. But since I won’t be at the forefront of my own blog I thought it makes the perfect opportunity for a new approach that will keep me writing.

I’ll still write my blog, but instead of posting it here I’ll send it to you on a Postcard.

That’s right, through the mail system. I know it’s sort of old fashion but who doesn’t love receiving mail?

This doesn’t immediately address “seamless collaboration through multi-platforms.” Not yet anyway.

But I want to do better. And not just better writing, but better community building.

And you help me do that.

By writing a Postcard to you it will help focus my attention and force my words to be precise and my heart to be true. I’m not kidding. I’ll get more out of this than you.

If you want into this “Blog by Postcard” then email me your mailing address at rossgale4 at gmail dot com.

I’ll do it until it’s unfeasible, or my wife gets frustrated I’m stealing her stamps, or I’ve got to pay thirty bucks to mail a postcard to Greenland or something similar.

I’ll do it as long as I can really, truly connect and really, truly write well. That will make it worth it and maybe merge the many fragments.