Howard Taylor on the Power of Practice

Howard Taylor gave a masterful presentation on the power of practice, and I’ve been learning from it ever since I first heard it. He references the article, How Not to Talk to Your Kids, which I also recommend.

He also references this graph:

Three phases of development toward adult expertise

Listen, then tell me your thoughts!


LTUE Keynote Speech: James A. Owen

At LTUE writing conference, James A. Owen gave a masterful speech that I found exceptionally inspiring and encouraging. Gratefully, I had my little podcast recorder, so I captured this awesome story. My only regret is that I didn’t catch a photo of the drawing of the dragon given at the end of the speech. It was the kind of picture that would have been discouraging to see (as in, ‘I’ll never be that good’ king of thing) if it hadn’t been for the deeply moving message he gave about simply drawing lines and choosing where they go–and never giving up. It was an incredible work of art, drawn in two minutes.

And by the way, you’ve GOT to check out his book on this subject, Drawing Out the Dragons. I’m reading it now. If you like the speech (and of course you will), you’ll love the book.

The Creative Power of Limitation

I think one of the greatest ways to promote creativity is to have limitations that seem to hamper the progress you are able to make. Think about it. If material is lacking, you learn to be creative with what you’ve got. If money is an issue, you get creative with the money and resources you already have. If you don’t have much space, you either turn a bedroom into a studio or find a way to do your work outdoors, where the atmosphere is better anyway. Limitations and roadblocks promote greater creativity.

If you think your limitation is hampering your creativity, maybe you just need to think more creatively about your creativity.

It rarely does any good to put off an aspiration until you have the money or means to do something about it. Whatever it is that you want to do, start doing it, with whatever time, money, and resources you DO have.

For example, let’s say you want to take up sculpture, but have no clay, and no money. That is an issue – but not enough of an issue to justify waiting until you have money or clay before moving forward. Start with home-made playdough. Does that sound too cheap?

Have you ever heard of Don Marco? He’s a crayola crayon artist, and he’s AMAZING. It’s not the fact that he uses crayons for art that’s amazing – your kids do that, (though yes, they are amazing in their own way, but you know what I mean). It’s the fact that he makes incredible art with crayons.

Use what you have to do what you want to do. Then when the resources are available, you can move up – and still have a unique portfolio.

What if time is your limitation? Become a five strokes a day artist, or perhaps “The Five Minute Painting” artist, or whatever. You don’t have to base your career on your limitation, but turn your limitation into an asset by trying something creative with your creativity.

Creativity is spawned where limitations prevail.

I’ve been publishing CD’s for years, and though it would be awesome and ideal to record with a real grand piano in a real studio, that’s never been an option to me, because it’s so dang expensive. But instead of complaining or waiting until I had the funds, I record with a professional program that allows me to fix minor mistakes that would be untouchable in a studio recording. That made my first CD better than it would have been if I’d had a studio to record in. Limitations aren’t roadblocks, limitations promote synergy.

If something goes wrong and you suddenly find yourself lacking what you once had, turn your disability into a superpower. Only you can figure out how to do it. That’s the beauty of creativity.

Progress never comes from maintaining the status quo, but from running into problems and coming up with solutions that were better than the initial plan.


I’m a skywatcher. Some people do birdwatching. I do sky watching. In my mind, every time I look at the sky, it’s a different sky. Think about it – since the last time you looked at the sky, what has changed? Well, the sun has moved – but it’s the earth that actually moves, right? So the background stars and galaxies have changed, too. But actually the sun is rotating, too, so it’s at an ever-so-slightly different angle than it was before.

But what about the atmosphere that makes the blue of the sky – has it changed? Dramatically! between the wandering dust, moisture, and passing air, the sky is never the same – and that’s only the sky that doesn’t include clouds. Clouds are constantly changing, shifting, and with the air, travel the world – always changing, never staying the same.

You’ll never see two identical skies. Besides, Utah skies have a beauty and uniqueness that is often overlooked by those of us who live here. The rocky mountains effect the wind and clouds in a dramatic way that makes the sky like a perpetual painting above our heads – if we’re willing to watch for it.

Writing to Make People Happy

Probably my biggest role model as a writer is my Grandma Curtis. She never wrote a full-length book that I know of, but she did publish a few articles in local magazines and newspapers. I think the thing that influences me the most about her writing was her passion for doing it. The only thing that surpassed her passion for reading and writing was her family. I suppose it was her family that kept her from becoming a professional writer. Some today would have said that her family was a distraction from her writing – and maybe it was. But there are things greater than writing, and things greater than the fulfillment of dreams, and family is one of them.

Anyway, here’s a little snippet from her life history:

On May 7, 1920 my brother David Irvin was born. The Lady that came to help mom, a Mrs. Sorensen, wrote a poem and read it in Sunday School. It went something like this, “The father’s eyes did light with joy… when first he learned it was a boy.” She game Mom a copy of the poem, and Mom read it to everyone who came to see us. She loved poetry. Maybe it was way back then that I first decided I’d like to read and write magic kind of words to make people happy… to be a writer.

At first I didn’t take much note to this, except that it was one of the first times she felt like she wanted to write. Then I re-read the last part. She wanted to write the “kind of words to make people happy.”

That got me thinking about the rest of her writings. Throughout, there is always an element of innocence, of an almost naïve optimism that some today would criticize as amateur and childish. But I’m not sure her intent was to impress the writing community. I think she was living by her motto of writing to make people happy.

What a powerful motivation! What a great approach to writing! I wish more authors wrote to try to make people happy.

Think about it. Why do you write? What is your motivation?

Christmas Album Coming Sooooooon!

Weeehaaawwww! Only a few weeks before my Christmas album will be up! The music has been done for awhile, but the image is finally done! What do you think? Does it make you want to put up your Christmas tree today? Hopefully it at least makes you want to read the nativity story again. And just so you can see what songs will be on the album, I’m putting the back cover image on, too.