How to Find Your True Identity in a Copycat World [EP 32 The Blog Chronicles]
On this episode of The Blog Chronicles, we talk about how to find your true identity, your voice, your creative calling, and how writing is the key to unlocking your true self.
Our guest is perfect for this topic.
James Prescott lives near London, which means you’ll love his accent. 🙂
James is a writer, author, blogger & writing coach, in the UK. He is the author of ‘Dance Of The Writer’, available free on his website, ‘Unlocking Creativity: Daily Words Which Helped Me Find My Voice’ and the upcoming ‘Mosaic Of Grace: God’s Beautiful Reshaping Of Our Broken Lives‘.
If you love spirituality, writing, deep thoughts, and encouraging conversation, be sure to tune in:
More about JAMES PRESCOTT…
In a world with brokenness, problems, and imperfections, how can we possibly talk about a God of love and grace? Many of us want to believe in grace, but the messy and often painful reality of our lives and the world we live in causes us to lose faith. Mosaic of Grace: God’s Beautiful Reshaping of Our Broken Lives helps us to truly know and understand this thing called grace. Confronting the truth of who we are (the good and the bad) and the truth of who God truly is, Mosaic of Grace helps us to understand God’s transforming ability to make beauty emerge from any past. Mosaic of Grace invites us to take an honest look at God’s divine grace so that our eyes can be opened to hope, transformation, and the ability of grace to put the hurting parts of our lives back together again.
James is passionate about creativity, spirituality & identity.
He blogs regularly at his site jamesprescott.co.uk & hosts the weekly ‘Poema Podcast’. He also coaches writers on how to discover their identity & find their voice.
James is a movie buff, Whovian, Sherlock fan & has a not-so-secret love of lip sync battles.
“James focuses on where change really begins – with the heart” – Jeff Goins, author, ‘The Art Of Work’
“James has some great things to say about art & creativity, and his writing comes from a deep place” – Tanya Marlow, TanyaMarlow.com – author ‘Coming Back To God When You Feel Empty’
“One of the best encouragers online” – Sarah Bessey, author, ‘Jesus Feminist’ & ‘Out Of Sorts’
Here are some specific things you will discover in this interview…
— How to discover your true identity through writing
–Why being authentic is an important thing for a blogger to be
–How to pursue authenticity
–Things a blogger can do to find their true calling
–How James helps people identify their creative gifts
–Why you might want to read his new book Mosaic of Grace
If you have any questions or comments for James, leave them in the comments! I’ll make sure he gets them.
James Prescott Interview Transcript
( For those who like to read.)
Matthew Loomis: Hi James.
Welcome to the Show!
James Prescott: Hi Matt.
Really great to be here. Thank you for having me. A pleasure to be here.
What Did You Do When You Realised That You Never Knew Who You Really Were?
Matthew Loomis: Absolutely!
Now on your About page at – http://jamesprescott.co.uk/meet-james/
You say that the motivation behind everything that you do is to help people do one of five things. Either –
*Discover their identity.
*Find authenticity in their life and work.
*Discovering and exploring their true calling.
*Discovering and developing their creative gifts.
*Discovering what it means to be human.
I want to spend some time with you today on those points.
I think a lot of beginner bloggers and a lot of new writers and those that have been doing it for a couple of years are still grappling with these issues and these topics to help them become better in whatever it is that they’re doing.
Let’s start James, with how to find your true identity.
You started out wanting to be an author full-time. You wrote two books on encouragement which got things rolling for you. You were just getting started really, you were in that transition from beginner or amateur to professional.
Then you realised that you didn’t know yourself well enough to continue the journey. This slammed you into a wall that knocked out your desire to create.
You lost all the fun out of blogging and then it dawned on you ”this whole time I’ve been writing to impress other people.”
Can you take us back to that place? Tell us what you did to get through that dark journey.
James Prescott: It was an interesting time.
Like you said I’d just written two eBooks on encouragement. I launched my blog kind of professionally. I started promoting stuff and I started blogging regularly. All of that was happening and it was really exciting.
But something happened over a six-month period where I started to feel I was losing myself a little bit. My work wasn’t taking off as much as I thought it would or that I expected it to.
It was killing me. I was really depressed and upset about it all.
What happened was, I spoke to some friends and they told me ”your writing has not been the same for the last six months you long to impress people and you’re not writing for yourself.”
When they said that. That made sense and it cut like a knife and I was like ”yeah I’ve got to do something about this.”
So I made this really radical decision which was, I was going to stop publically writing. I’m going to stop publishing stuff publicly. I’m going to just go away and just write.
I never even set a deadline on it. I just said ”as long as it takes for me to get in touch with my authentic creative self again.”
In terms of identity, what I realized was I had put my identity in what I did. I put my identity on being a successful writer. I had put my security and my identity in getting a load of subscribers for my blog or getting loads of readers.
Because I had done that, firstly it affected my motivation. My motivation wasn’t creating great work. It was just creating work that people would read which isn’t authentic.
I think our creative work tells the truth about where we are even when we don’t want it to.
If your motivation is uninterested in people pleasing and only making money and getting subscribers? That will come through somehow in your work even if it is successful.
So I literally went away and I wrote once a day on my phone for about fifteen minutes basically free writing. Whatever came out. Whatever was inside of me that day no edit button, no plan. Just writing every day. Six days a week because I had a day off to take a break.
Six days a week I would write whatever came out for about ten to fifteen minutes. That’s what I did and I did that for three months.
As time went on, I started to realize there were lots of common themes. In what I was writing around artistic integrity and grounding your identity in something that’s who you are and not what you do. What it means to be truly authentic creatively.
I started to put together some ideas. I’d still say now it was the most creative period of my life. I felt really alive. I wasn’t thinking about what other people were thinking I was literally just writing for me and getting in touch with all of this inside of me.
That’s when I really got in touch with my voice.
Where I found my voice and where I found myself in the process. A lot of material came out of that and I wrote ten to twenty blog posts. I was just writing two or three blog posts a day I had so much material.
Then I had an eBook which came out of it which I gave and is still now on my blog actually called Dance of the Writer.
Which is how we balance throughout the reality of marketing or promoting our work with keeping our authenticity and our artistic integrity and being true to our own voice.
That was really successful. That was really ironic that when I wasn’t looking for success it kind of found me a little bit. When I just focused on getting in touch with my true creative voice suddenly I was getting more people reading my work than before.
That’s that journey and how I came out of it. Eventually, I came out and I started publically blogging again. To the point I did that, I actually didn’t really want to. It was ironic, at the time I did it, it was a challenge.
You know you’ve got to go out there and do this publically again. Even though you don’t want to. That was a much healthier place to be than where I was the three months before that.
Can You Explain What the Contrast is Separating What You Do From Who You Are?
Matthew Loomis: We will talk more about authenticity and discovering your true calling.
You said something very interesting. (I forgot exactly how you said it just now.) You said something about a person can gain subscribers and followers and be finding success. But they still haven’t discovered their identity.
Is that right what you just said?
James Prescott: What I mean is.
When you put your security and build your identity around what you do?
Then numbers, subscribers lists or how much money you make or impact whatever become more important than the quality of the work.
For me when I did that, something died in my work. When I was more concerned what people thought and more concerned with subscriber numbers? Something in my work suffered.
When it didn’t work I was more destroyed than I should have been.
My value had come from what I did rather than who I was.
The value of my work came from its impact, not the fact that I’ve made it and it was true to whom I was.
Matthew Loomis: Right.
James Prescott: I’ve always thought this.
And I said this.
I did a Facebook Live the other day and I said this ”our stories have value because they’re our stories and our creative work has value because we’ve made it.” That said, it doesn’t matter if nobody ever reads it. Or if it makes no impact on other people. While all of those things are nice that’s not what gives value to our work.
Our work is valuable because we made it and it’s ours.
People often stop writing because they think ”well my work only has value if lots of people read it.” That’s just not true.
It breaks my heart when I see people give up because they think ”nobody’s reading my stuff, therefore, it can’t be that good.” It doesn’t matter how many people read it. It shouldn’t matter.
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t want success and want lots of people reading our stuff. Making money isn’t wrong. It’s just that those things shouldn’t be what motivate us that shouldn’t be our driving force.
I always say that business is a support system for our art. Not the other way around because if we are the support system for our business then it’s the business that’s more important and the art suffers.
Whereas if the business and the structure is there to support the art then we can make the art that we want to make. That’s what I mean.
Can You Take Us Through This Four-Step Process of Finding Your Identity?
Matthew Loomis: That’s fascinating.
On your blog, you share four secrets to discovering your identity.
If someone is trying to find their identity you say,
1. They need to accept that to go forward they need to go back.
2. Their identity is bigger than their purpose mission and achievements.
3. Give this process as much time as it needs.
4. When you’re most afraid to begin again then it’s a sign that it’s time.
James Prescott: Yes.
Matthew Loomis: Can you talk a little more about this four-step process?
James Prescott: Okay.
The first step is accepting the need to go forward you need to go back and that means basically stripping everything away.
When I coach writers what I do is they often want to start off with ”this is what I want to do this is what I want to write about this is how many subscribers I want.” The first thing I do is ” okay let’s strip away for a moment, let’s focus on who you are?”
”Let’s just strip everything back and look at who you are why are you doing this and what is your security?”
This part of the process involves examining yourself, just sitting down and journaling. What I basically did every day was write down my thoughts and my feelings like the stuff that was going on inside of me. Learning about ourselves and getting into the habit of doing that.
If we just do that over a week or two weeks or whatever or even a month. You’ll find stuff coming out and you’ll find stuff out about yourself.
About what you really care about or what you want to achieve and about who you really are.
So that’s the first step and once you get to that, once you’ve done that you get to the second step which is, the identity is bigger than your purpose, your mission or your achievements.
What I had done is I had tied my identity to my achievements. So, ”how many readers?” ”How many people have read my blog?” ”How many people have subscribed to my mailing lists?” That sort of thing. I was more concerned about that than creating great content.
So you let go of that and start believing the truth that you actually already have value because you’re a person.
You have more than value as you are because of your work and that your work has value because it’s yours.
Actually believing that and actually realizing that and accepting that? I’ve seen that transform loads of people’s writings and they’ve felt liberated to write and to publish stuff because they’re not so afraid. They realize their identity is bigger than what they do.
Obviously, that process takes time for each of us. It’s different for each of us.
And this is the third step. Giving it time. For me it was three months for somebody else it might be six months. It might be a month. It depends on who you are and where you are on your journey.
But it’s worth investing the time because when you’ve done it then you’ll be more in touch with your true self and you’ll feel alive in a way that you didn’t feel alive before.
You’ll get to a point and this is the fourth step where you don’t want to put stuff like that out there anymore. You’re content, you know your own voice. You know who you are.
You don’t worry about putting yourself out there anymore but that’s the time that you need to put yourself out there. That’s the time when you’ll have your best stuff, your truest stuff. When it’s more of a challenge to put yourself out there you’re not so worried about the result.
That’s when you need to get out there and show yourself again and taking that step because that is when your best work will come out.
That process is what I went through basically and it changed me and I’ve seen it change other people. I definitely recommend that to anybody. Especially people at the start of their journey who are just trying to find their voice and get going.
I think that’s a really good thing to do and I always recommend that to people whenever I’m coaching them or I’m talking to authors about beginning their writing journey. Even writing a book as well it’s the same thing in a different way.
How Could Blogging Help Someone to Express Who They Are?
Matthew Loomis: Right.
James, can you give us a couple of practical tips in relation to blogging specifically.
How can blogging help someone find their identity?
James Prescott: I think when you blog the first thing to do daily is the free writing.
That’s my number one tip for everybody is to free write.
So if you can do that even for five minutes a day you can sit down and write. This can be in a journal it can be on your phone, it can be on your laptop. You can just write without the edit button without ever thinking about it just write whatever comes out.
Just get into the habit of doing that each day.
And if you do no other writing that day then you’ve done some writing for starters. And second, of all, you’ll start to find your voice.
That’s the first thing I would say to bloggers.
The second thing is, don’t be a perfectionist.
A lot of people seem to want to be perfect and want their words to be perfect before they publish it. That’s a big fear for writers if their work isn’t perfect. I wouldn’t call it an excuse but it’s something writers use to stop themselves from pushing their work out ”oh it’s not ready, it’s not ready it’s not good enough.”
Your written work is never fully going to be ready. No work is ever really finished. Even a published book is never really finished you’ve just kind of released it to the world. You have to come to the point where it’s ready to release, you just have to let it go.
It’s the same with a blog post in many ways you obviously have to do editing and that kind of thing, but at some point, you just have to release it to the world.
It’s like this might not be perfect but this is it, this needs to go out into the world right now. That is definitely one thing I would say a lot of free writing and not being a perfectionist.
Matthew Loomis: That fourth step of the process makes me think you have to lose it to find it.
So to speak.
James Prescott: That’s right.
Does Authenticity Lead Us to Our Identity or Does Our Identity Lead Us to Authenticity?
Matthew Loomis: Whether it’s your life.
Your career. Whatever it is. Your identity. those are some practical ways to apply this.
That’s good stuff.
So James, let’s get into authenticity in life and work. It seems to me that finding authenticity in your life and work requires one to first discover their identity. Is there a chicken and egg thing going on here or can authenticity lead us to our real identity?
James Prescott: I think it’s like a cycle.
Kind of a circle I would say.
You know those circles with the arrows that point to each other?
It’s kind of like that. When you discover your true identity then you’re being authentic. When you start to be more authentic then you discover your true identity.
It’s kind of like a cycle rather than one leading to the other.
I found my true identity when I started to do that free writing. Although it’s when I just started to get in touch with my true self. So in that process, I became more authentic.(I don’t like to use the word authentic too much because it’s a bit jargony.) I found my true creative voice but I also found my identity.
As I discovered that I was able to explore that a little more and then find more of my voice. It’s kind of cycle but you have to take the first step which is willing to explore what your true writer’s voice is and getting in touch with your true self.
That’s the first step that you need to take. And that is scary. It’s challenging and it’s not easy to do. I mean it’s not as easy process sometimes it can be painful as well because you’re getting in touch with something inside that you never realized was there.
Writing is therapeutic. Like creativity is a really healing therapeutic process, I always find. That’s one of the reasons I love to write. It gets stuff out that was inside that I didn’t know was there and I get a lot of healing.
Even in that sense, you find your truer self. When you get in touch and you find out who you really are underneath.
So it’s kind of like a cycle the identity and the authenticity thing.
Why Would a Blogger Need to Chase After Being Original?
Matthew Loomis: I agree.
It’s like a circle with those arrows pointing in both directions.
If a new blogger is thinking to them self ”that seems scary a little bit uncomfortable.”
Why should I pursue authenticity do I really need to do that?
As a blogger, what would you say to them?
James Prescott: I would say if your main objective is making money.
And that’s your goal and your primary motivator is to get people to like your work. You may succeed in that.
But something in you might die.
Lots of people do that and there are loads of people I don’t read. They might be successful. They might be making a lot of money but there is something that is not really true about what they do.
But if you really want some fresh creative stuff and you really want to tell your story whatever the result. That won’t just benefit a lot of other people because you’ve got the unique story that’s yours and that nobody else has.
It will benefit you writing it out.
So when you get in touch with your true self. When you’re authentic that’s healing for you but it’s also beneficial for other people because it’s you being your unique self and telling your story.
We all have a story to share and that story can have a positive impact on other people. Sharing that story has a positive impact on us.
So being truly authentic. Being in touch with your true self. That’s not just about the work. It’s about you and your personal growth and you becoming a better person and not just a better writer. So I always recommend that.
There’s nothing wrong with writing to make money and there’s nothing wrong with those kinds of websites which do that. But the ones who do that well are the ones who are being true and being honest and telling the story. Rather than using marketing jargon.
There is a way to do marketing which has integrity and I’m still learning that myself. I just had to promote my book which is challenging for me. You see if you focus too much on the marketing money thing? Then your head will be disconnected from your heart. The writing will just be from your head. It won’t be from your heart and people will notice that.
So if you want to create really authentic honest work and you want that personal growth as well? Then you need to have a connect with your head and your heart.
What Do You Think About the Fact That Authenticity is Bouncing Back Like Personal Branding is a ”Big Thing” These Days?
Matthew Loomis: Yeah, That is important.
It seems to me (at least me anyway) that the topic of authenticity has made a come back recently.
I’ve been seeing it not just in your work but in other blogs and websites.
Does it seem like that to you?
James Prescott: Yes it does.
Authenticity has become a jargon word now.
I have heard people say ”if you say the word authentic too much then you’re not being authentic.” Which I agree with in many ways. I’m trying not to use it too much because I don’t want to sound like I’m talking jargon.
When I say authentic I mean being true to your true self. Your creative voice telling your story. Your unique story. That’s what I say and that’s what I mean.
Matthew Loomis: I haven’t used that term in a long time actually.
Because it was beaten to death a few years ago.
James Prescott: I think people are smarter now.
They are kind of tired of marketing platforms who claim that they’re writers but actually they’re just marketing people who write.
They talk about writing and they talk a good game. But to me, they simply just trying to sell you something ultimately.
Matthew Loomis: Sure.
I don’t know.
James Prescott: I think the reason is that they’re tired of all the people marketing stuff.
On their blogs.
All this marketing jargon and building your platform and all this kind of thing. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to build your platform don’t get me wrong.
I think it’s just the language people use and it’s the marketing strategies people use. People are tired of that. People want to hear people’s true stories. Something that’s honest.
I think people feel a disconnect from those people who are just trying to market you. There’s no heart in them it’s all kind of cold business stuff at the end of the day.
Those people fake being in touch with their heart and some people are quite good at it.
Ultimately, they’re not.
One of the things that I’ve been very conscious of when I launched myself as someone who coaches writers is I don’t want to be one of these people who is using a marketing topic to get people to… Or using authentic jargon to get people to pay me money.
I want to help writers grow. I want to help people find their authentic voice. I want to write the books they want to write and create the work they want to create and get a good rating on it.
That’s really what I want to do.
Yes, I’ve got to pay the bills just as much as everybody else. We all have to pay the bills. It’s not all about money being a bad thing. there’s nothing wrong with making money from artistic work. There’s nothing wrong with someone wanting to make money.
Like I said before it’s when money is your motivator.
Like when money is the thing that drives the work. Rather than when your art is your support system for your business. Rather than the other way round.
I try to make my business my support system for my art rather than the other way around.
One of the reasons I love to coach writers is because of both, I love to do it anyway (and I’d do it for free if I could.) But because I do that I get paid and it allows me to support my writing. It frees me to create the books and the blog posts and all of that kind of thing that I want to write.
Elizabeth Gilbert says something in her book called Big Magic.
Which, is an amazing book on creativity that ”we should never burden our art with the responsibility of bringing our income.”
Even after Eat, Pray, Love came out, she was still working at a café.
And had novellas which have been successful before Eat, Pray, Love but she was still working in the café and eventually still earning money from writing she wanted her day job to be something which wasn’t writing.
There is something really important about that. I don’t ever want to make my living out of writing books. I mean you can’t really make a living out of writing books unless you’re a JK Rowling or someone like that.
But I don’t ever want my income to be dependent on books. I’d like to make money from my books and I’d like my books to sell a lot of copies but I don’t want my income to depend on them.
Matthew Loomis: I like your term authentic jargon.
I love that. I think that’s a blog post right there.
James Prescott: Probably. Yeah.
What Do You Say is the Difference Between Our Identities and Our True Calling in Life?
Matthew Loomis: I’ll have to explore that.
So James let’s go into another thing now.
Another thing which you do is discovering and exploring their true calling. You help people do this. Writers and bloggers.
What is the difference between a person’s identity and their calling?
James Prescott: Well yeah. It’s a very gray area, isn’t it?
I think there is this misunderstanding as to us having only one calling.
I think we should have a number of callings and different types of callings as well. Some callings are for a season and some callings are for a lifetime.
I feel like my vocation is writing and I think that’s a lifetime thing that one. The coaching is something that I feel definitely called to. I don’t know whether that’s a lifetime thing or whether it’s a seasonal thing I don’t know. I do know that I love doing it. That is something I want to do and I feel that’s part of who I am.
Then there is speaking which is something that I want to explore in the medium term. I’m not doing that yet but I’m just starting to get into that. I don’t know if that will be a lifetime or a seasonal thing.
Those are all part of callings and those are all part of my identity. They’re part of who I am but they are not my whole identity.
That is what’s different between your identity and your calling. Your calling or your vocation is part of your identity but it’s not your entire identity.
Who we are is bigger than what we do.
So what we do is part of who we are but we should be able to exist without it. That’s the transition between different seasons in life and different callings. That’s a difficult time because that’s when you find out who you really are. What you really care about and what your character is.
What kind of person do you want to be? Who you are is more important than what you do. What you do is really really important, it is. But I think what type of person are you becoming is a bigger question.
There is definitely a connect between identity and calling. But there is a separateness as well. So I hope that explains that.
What Could a Blogger Do to Find Their Journey in Life?
Matthew Loomis: I think that’s really good.
What are a few practical things that a blogger could do to find their true calling?
James Prescott: Listen to the ache.
First of all what would get you up in the morning?
Think about it and say ”that would get me up in the morning.” You know that would give you joy just to get up in the morning and go and do that. That would give me energy and get me going.
The second thing I would say is, what if money wasn’t an object? If money wasn’t an issue what would you do? What thing would you do?
That question has really helped me. You could tailor it and say ”what would you worry about if money wasn’t an object?” ”What would you write a book about if money wasn’t an object?”
So that’s a good question to ask yourself on a regular basis. And I think also what makes you angry? What causes. What topics. What issues make you angry?
Maybe you’re angry about what’s happening in politics or you’re angry about what’s happening in the church. Are you angry about life is not being honest or authentic enough?
What is it that makes you passionate? What gets you fired up and what about that? There are loads of so many different topics.
If your story is that you’ve been an addict or you’ve got a mental illness and you want to write about that there are loads of people who want to hear those stories and need to hear those stories and want to be encouraged.
So if you write that and share that, people would love to hear that.
If you don’t share it doesn’t matter because if you wrote about those kinds of topics that’s healing for you anyway. Those are the kinds of things and questions that I would ask.
*What gets you up in the morning?
*What would you do if money wasn’t an object?
*What gets you passionate?
*What gets you angry?
Ask yourself those kinds of questions. Do a brainstorm and just write down things and might just surprise yourself. So that’s what I would say to people.
Do People Generally Discover Their Vocation Effortlessly?
Matthew Loomis: From your experience as a coach and doing it yourself.
Do you find people have a difficult time finding the calling or an easy time finding the calling?
James Prescott: I would say that it’s a process.
That works differently for different people.
For some people, it is more difficult. Actually, the first person that I coached, when I started coaching them they told me they wanted to be a mommy blogger. That’s what they wanted to do and they had a basic blog set up but they weren’t blogging and they needed some accountability and support.
What I did is, I took them back to the beginning. So instead of thinking about the blog itself before we got to that, we talked about who she was and what she was passionate about.
What ended up happening was that she ended up not doing the blog that she thought she was going to do and she actually started a business doing something else.
It was something that she really cared about that she had been trained in but hadn’t taken up and had a blog which went alongside that. Now she feels really fulfilled and really alive.
It’s because we went back to the beginning. We asked those kinds of questions. What do you care about? What are you passionate about? What gets you up in the morning? What drives you?
What kind of people do you care about the most? What causes do you care about?
When we did that and we started with who you are rather than what you do? The person that I was coaching found who she really was and she’s come alive in ways that she never had dreamed that she would.
It gives me the joy to see that happen. That’s one of the best things I’ve been chosen to see. To help other people see what you can see, and actually live that out is amazing.
Matthew Loomis: That’s your calling. Right?
To help other people find their calling.
James Prescott: Yeah.
Actually, it makes me come alive talking about it and thinking about it.
It’s just a buzz.
What Do You Do to Help People Recognise Their Given Talents?
Matthew Loomis: I can hear it in your voice.
James let’s talk a little bit about exploring and developing their creative gifts.
Once again this is like the grains of sand in the calling so to speak or the details of the calling.
How do you help people identify their creative gifts?
James Prescott: What I do with that is.
First I ask them what they are already doing?
Are they writing or are they painting? Normally its writers that I work with. Normally with creative gifts. It’s more what’s your creative voice? What are you trying to say?
What I do is I get them to do some brainstorming. I get to ask those questions that we talked about before and we talk about it and I get them to instinctively answer some questions.
What they care about, what gets them up in the morning, what they are passionate about? And what is their main creative outlet?
Is there a creative outlet they haven’t explored or that they would like to explore? Is there something like ”aww, I’d love to do that but I’m not doing it.”
Some people come to me and say ”I’d just love to write a book I just never thought I could do it before.” ”I’ve just never really though that’s something that I could do.”
I’m like ”well have you got something to share?” ”Do you have a story to share?” And when they tell me I tell them ”well you need to write this book!” And then they start doing it. They start coming alive and it’s like ”wow I’m so glad I did this.”
Curiosity is a really good thing to listen to as well. What are you curious about doing artistically? Are you curious about drawing or painting or writing songs or writing poetry?
Or are you curious about writing a book? Or ”wouldn’t it be nice if I did that?” Or, ”wouldn’t it be great if I did that?”
I look for the answers to those kinds of questions and I listen to them. Another thing that Elizabeth Gilbert says ”listen to your curiosity.” Don’t be afraid of it lean into it.
That’s what I try to spot when I’m working with these people.
What are they curious about? What is really underneath the surface? My job as a coach is to see stuff that’s already there that they can’t see. To notice that and to draw that our of them. So that they can see it and that they can start to explore it.
That’s what I do and it’s a very long process and so I’m trying to condense it down into a very short answer. But over a number of calls, I get them to answer these things and I get them to brainstorm. I get them to talk to me and I put them on the spot a little bit and challenge them to think about these things.
I confront them and actually start exploring them taking practical steps to explore them. I give them accountability and feedback and encouragement.
It’s not simply for me ”oh you’re going to get a book contract or you’re going to get a huge blog.” When I coach people I don’t promise numbers and I don’t promise certain results.
The only thing I tell people is that if you work with me then I will help you get in touch with your true creative voice. And your true creative self and help you to express that.
That’s the result I want. I will help people to launch a blog. I will help people to write a book. I love helping people write books. I’m working with a couple of people right now and we’re talking about their book ideas and mapping out how they’re going to be working together.
Taking them from their basic ideas to structuring the whole book together chapter by chapter and breaking down the chapters into shorter chunks so that it’s easier to write. Then getting them to write it and I’ll be with them through the whole process of that.
And that’s really exciting.
So it can be advanced as that or it can be as simple as what you want to blog about. What kind of music do you want to write? What do you want to say in your music? What kind of sound do you want? Do you want something that’s never been done before?
And there are no wrong answers with creativity.
What people always say ”oh you can’t do that” or ”you shouldn’t do that.” Well, there are no wrong answers because it’s your story and your creative voice is yours.
It’s unique and even if it’s not one of those ”oh that’s really fresh and innovative” or whatever it’s still yours and it’s still unique.
A lot of things sound the same because we are human beings and human beings are similar. But every story is unique and every creativity is unique.
If you really are in touch with your true self and you’re starting to think about… like I said if you’re motivated by subscriber numbers or readers or impact? Then your work becomes identical to other people that’s one of the things you lose. Like I said it’s a production line.
It will still be unique but it will be less unique and there will be less of the connected people.
Do You Think That When We Reach the Age of Sixty + We can Still Be Creative?
Matthew Loomis: Online the less unique the worse it is. Right?
Or the less impactful the less powerful it is.
James, are you saying it’s possible for someone who is over sixty-years-old to discover some new creative gift that they possess that they never knew before?
James Prescott: Oh Yeah. Definitely.
There are a whole lot of people who have not really found their voice until they were older.
(I’m trying to think of a good example.)
I mean if you go online you can search this list of famous writers and actors and artists. Basically, who ever really found their voice until after they became forty or fifty.
I think Samuel L Jackson never made his big movie until he was in his forties.
And Morgan Freeman as well.
They are actors and creative people they’re not writers or whatever.
Didn’t JK Rowling not published her first book until she was in her forties?
Matthew Loomis: I think so.
James Prescott: So it’s never too late.
It’s never too late and everyone’s got a story to share.
I’d love to hear a story from somebody in their sixty’s. And about the amazing lessons that they have learned in their life. That’s a really powerful story right there because they’ve learned great lessons that most of us haven’t learned yet.
We don’t get enough of those kinds of stories. We have spoken to people who are in their 20’s 30’s 40’s but new writers in their 60’s? That doesn’t happen very often but I think it should happen.
Matthew Loomis: Yes.
I think it will and it is more so now with the internet.
James Prescott: The internet has been great.
It’s opened up this whole opportunity with people to share their work publically. That’s never been around before.
Blogs are basically free you could get a WordPress blog or a Tumblr blog or whatever for free.
Just set it up and post something. It costs nothing apart from your internet connection basically. If you’ve got a laptop or a computer of some kind and an internet connection you can do it.
That’s brilliant I love that because it means more people can put their work out there. Which is fantastic.
What Does it Mean to Be a Human Being in Today’s Society?
Matthew Loomis: Absolutely.
Let’s look at the final aspect or point to your coaching that you do.
Which is helping people to discover what it means to be human. I think this is the most interesting or the one on the surface that might make people scratch their heads and wonder what does that have to do with blogging or writing.
You say that this is your mission.
So James, what does being human mean to you how do you define being human? Let’s start there.
James Prescott: I’m a Christian.
So my life is built around the values of love, grace, inclusion and creativity.
I was talking to somebody about this yesterday, that faith is essentially a creative act. When you’re trusting something that’s not there you have to believe that something really is there.
It’s like that is what an artist does. When you’re making truly honest work you are trying to bring something into being which isn’t there yet but only you can see it.
It’s inside of you and you know it’s there. Nobody else can see it because you haven’t brought it to life yet. So there is something fundamentally spiritual about creativity.
Creativity is something that we all do every single one of us. Whatever field of life that we are in we all are creative people.
My podcast is called Poema which is the word Poem with an ”a” on the end.
That word is from Scripture which is the word Paul uses to describe our lives as God’s masterpiece, as God’s work of art.
That really sums up what I believe about this. That our lives are worth a lot we get to create and sometimes we create really bad ones. I have been working through a lot of stuff from my own past which included a big childhood trauma.
What I discovered about myself is that I started to create a life which was not healthy because I wanted to punish myself for what happened. Even though it was never my responsibility for the things that happened to me. Nor other people’s responsibility.
I blamed myself and so I created a life for myself where I was punishing myself. Now I need to learn how to create a life where I don’t do that which is healthy. And that’s what I want to do right now.
Our lives are a reflection of the choices that we make. We don’t choose some of the circumstances that have happened to us. We don’t get to choose when we lose a pound. We don’t get to choose if we get an illness or a medical condition or that kind of thing.
We don’t get to choose those things but we can choose how we respond to them all.
Have a life we create in response to those things.
So that’s what I mean about what it means to be human. Is to find out who you really are to create the life that you believe you are made for. And actually, realize that you have value as you are and you have that power to create your life and embracing that.
As a Christian, I say we do that in collaboration with God because creativity is a collaborative act.
Even a blog post on your blog while somebody has to host the blog. Somebody has to design it. There’s a whole lot of people involved… Somebody drew the picture that you have on your blog. Somebody is on the phone… It’s a collaborative thing.
Creativity is a collaborative thing and with that, we get to create our lives with God in collaboration with him. That’s what it means to be human
Do Writers and Bloggers That Have That More ”Human Touch” Attract More Interaction with People?
Matthew Loomis: James, do you find that those writers and bloggers that are more human tend to attract more readers.
Or maybe have an easier time building an audience?
James Prescott: That’s how it should be definitely.
The ones that attract me as a reader are those kinds of people.
The one that really shows their humanity. That are in touch with themselves the ones that are honest and real. I think there are people who build huge followings who I wouldn’t say that about because good marketing sells. That’s why it’s good marketing.
There are other people who have built huge followings on the back of being truly human being truly themselves. I think they are the ones that last.
They are the ones that stick around. They are the ones that endure maybe beyond their generation. Because what they say will always be true because it’s part of the human experience. That is something that we all connect with at some level.
It’s got heart to it we can all connect with it and it will resonate long after the person who wrote it is gone.
If you look at all the arts of work that endure. They are all written from the heart. They’ve all got timeless truths about who we are as human beings which resonate. The films that stick. The films that people watch are the ones that we connect with something about who we are as human beings.
Can You Tell Us More About Your New Book – Mosaic of Grace – God’s Beautiful Reshaping of Our Broken Lives?
Matthew Loomis: Absolutely.
James, it’s been great that you’ve shared this process with us and what you do to help bloggers and writers find their identity and become more authentic.
Discover their calling, their creative gifts and what it means to be human.
Before we wrap up the show I’d like for you to share with us a little bit about your book. It’s called Mosaic of Grace – God’s Beautiful Reshaping of Our Broken Lives.
(I plan to read this book so I have not read it yet.) I was wondering if you could just tell us what it’s all about?
James Prescott: Mosaic of Grace.
Actually came about as the result of this season.
The season that I talked about before. What I discovered was that we are enough as we are. It’s grace, that’s what grace is.
The book unpacks the whole idea of grace and talks about what grace really is.
How it confronts the truth of who we really are underneath. It confronts the truth of our brokenness and our imperfections. It also confronts the truth that we are perfectly unconditionally loved with our imperfections.
In the midst of our imperfections, we are still infinitely valuable.
Ultimately, that applies to creativity in terms of our work being infinitely valuable, because it is our work. I explore the truth about grace.
How it’s not easy and it’s not simple but actually when we choose to receive grace and confront the truth of who we are that we can be transformed.
Then we can go closer to God and go deeper with God and find out more about who we really are. Even though it might be challenging for us but actually there’s joy that comes as a result of that process.
And then we get to share that grace with other people.
Matthew Loomis: Wow. That’s fascinating.
Where can people find your book?
You can get it on Amazon if you just go there and type in Mosaic of Grace. Just type that in the search and it will come up.
Matthew Loomis: I will have a link in The Show Notes to your book.
James Prescott: It’s got a red broken heart on the cover.
James Prescott: That’s something that I’m really passionate about.
It’s at the core of everything I do. It’s great this idea of grace.
Grace is the beginning of everything. Grace is the beginning of every journey into my new identity because you have, to begin with, the fact that you’re enough.
That’s what grace is. You are enough as you are. With all the true stuff about you and all the stuff about your imperfections, failures, mistakes all the things you don’t want to talk about and all the good things about your worth and your value.
Even in the midst of those when we come to terms with that then that frees us. To go and create the life we want out fear.
It frees us from shame and it frees us from the work that we want to create without fearing what the result will be because we know that we are enough.
Our identity is in who we are and not what we do.
Grace is the beginning of really truly creative authentic work.
Matthew Loomis: It sounds great.
I just added it to my reading list on Goodreads.
James Prescott: Awesome.
Matthew Loomis: I was just curious.
Do you have another couple of minutes for a bonus question?
James Prescott: Oh yes. Absolutely, yeah.
Matthew Loomis: Alright.
I’m serious I did not think to ask you this until just now.
But the more I get to know you and what you’re all about and I’m just curious. This is totally a different type of question and it doesn’t necessarily relate to what we’ve been talking about.
Actually in a way it does. We’ve been talking about authenticity and identity, true calling, creative gifts. I am just curious.
What do you think about the big self-help folks like Tony Robbins? Is Tony Robbins authentic? What’s your take on that?
James Prescott: I am a big fan of Tony Robbins.
Actually, I have listened to him tell his story and it’s an amazing story.
When I listen to him what he says sounds true. It sounds from the heart. I heard him tell a story it was before he started out on this journey.
He had no money.
He was at this café and he only had enough money for one meal. So he was at this café and he’s about to order his meal and he sees this little boy coming in with his mother, opening the door for her treating her properly and being kind to her.
They had hardly any money. He was so moved by this that he gave the boy all his money and said ”you go and buy your mom dinner.” And he didn’t know what he was going to eat for the rest of the week he didn’t know where the next penny was coming from.
But he did this anyway because he wanted to be generous and he wanted to honor what this boy had done for his mother. When I heard him tell that story I really connected with him and his heart.
When I hear about him giving all his book … away to feed people. His goal of raising billions of pounds dollars whatever to feed orphans that kind of thing.
When I heard his story of how he experienced that and where that came from that connected me to ”he has a real desire to help people.” He genuinely wants people to grow and find who they are and embrace their true identity and calling and stuff.
Yes, he has made a lot of money and yes, he does charge money for his work. He does give a lot of stuff away for free as well actually. And a lot of free material as well.
I don’t think that money is his motivation. I just don’t see that in him. But I can understand why people criticize him because he’s up there in the public eye and a lot of what he says can sound a bit corny sometimes.
I have certainly got a lot out of what he does.
Matthew Loomis: I have too.
I have too in the past.
James Prescott: I’ve learned from him as a coach.
I would say that he is inauthentic and he’s in touch with his heart.
Matthew Loomis: I was just curious.
Because when you think about coaching and you think about the success he maybe one that comes to a lot of people’s minds.
So I was just curious what you had to say about that.
James Prescott: Interesting.
Nobody’s ever asked me that question before, so that’s really good.
Matthew Loomis: Alright!
I like to shake things up, keep it fresh here! 🙂
So James, thank you for coming on The Blog Chronicles today.
It’s been a real pleasure talking with you.
James Prescott: Thank you for having me on it’s been so so great!
If you want to connect with me I’m on Twitter @JamesPrescott77 and that’s my Instagram as well. I’ve got a Facebook writers page. I’d love to hear from people and connect with people.
I do try to interact with people on social media so if you tweet me I’ll try to reply.
Matthew Loomis: What about your Facebook group.
Who should be interested in that?
James Prescott: I have a Facebook group called Writers Together.
Matthew Loomis: Is it closed?
James Prescott: It’s kind of closed.
It’s for people who sign up for my mailing list. They are all generally writers.
When you sign up for my mailing list you’ll get this free eBook that I told you about before – Dance of the Writer.
And a book on creativity which is basically literally the free writing that I did during that season I talked about. It’s just edited and organized and put together as a book. So it’s kind of quite raw.
It’s an example of what can happen when you start doing this free writing and that’s why I wrote the book. So get those free and you get the link to join this Facebook Group for writers where I share tips.
I do Facebook live videos there. We have a community where people can share their own work and share their struggles and questions.
There is a safe place to be vulnerable and people who are starting out on that journey. Whether they have a blog and they want to write a book or whether it’s they have just started blogging they can go there and be vulnerable and ask questions and we can grow and learn together.
Every month I also do a seven-day writing challenge and that page will be going live on my website soon. There you can sign-up and you’ll get daily writing prompts for the first week of the month on a certain topic. And then weekly prompts for the rest of the month.
All that’s free and you get to the Facebook Group as well when you sign up for that list. and that’s a separate list. So that’s the free stuff that I do to help writers.
Obviously, I’ve got coaching as well. There is a coaching page on my website James Prescott Dot Co Dot UK / Coaching. So if you go there-there are different packages that work and help you out.
If you’ve got a book that you want to write but you’re not sure where to begin I can help you with that. If you want to launch a blog or you just want to find your writing voice I’d love to help you.
I do free half-hour consultations. So if that’s all you can afford or all you need or whatever I could do that. That’s all on my website if you want to go have a look I’d love to help you out.
Matthew Loomis: Fantastic.
James, it’s been a pleasure.
James Prescott: Thanks again Matt, it’s been really great doing this.
Yeah. Thank you.
The Show Notes