Why Life is like Writing

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I’ve written for so long, it’s almost become second nature to me. I love the art, the craft of writing. But the thought of writing always daunts me. The idea of having to work hours and hours crafting a piece, without any guarantee of getting a positive response.

Truth is, life is a bit similar.

You put all the effort in, you put time, energy and money. You invest yourself.

But at the end of the day, there’s no guarantee you will get the outcome you wanted.

I’ve always wanted to write loads of books, get invited to speak, and have a hugely successful blog. There is a child inside of me which only wanted to be the best. To be picked.

Growing up I was always the last at everything worth having.

And first with all the circumstances no one wanted.

First to be in a broken home. First to have a parent with a disability. First to get bullied and not be able to do anything to stop it.

First to lose a parent.

When all this happens at a young age it marks you. The scars cast a long shadow.

I have no doubt writing won’t ever satisfy. It won’t complete me. It won’t make my life fulfilled. Neither will success or achievement.

Being a successful writer and speaker would be awesome. But not because I’d somehow ‘be the best’. But because it would mean I’m getting the chance to have a positive impact on someone else’s life.

It’s such a privilege to hear something you’ve created has changed someone’s life for the better. It’s an amazing feeling. It’s disconcerting too. Because so much of the time I’ve felt like I’m screwing up .

I wrote a guest post for a blog on my experience of grief, the lessons I learned and the way it’s impacted me. To me this was simply telling my story and sharing it. I didn’t really consider whether it would impact anyone too much.

The response I got was amazing. People tweeting and commenting on how much the story moved them. How it was perfect timing for circumstances in their lives at the current time. How they could ‘feel my heartbeat’ in my writing.

It really took me aback. You’d think I’d be all blown away and satisfied, my ego boosted and feeling all proud of myself.

I wasn’t.

I couldn’t quite deal with it. It was genuinely disconcerting.

As I pondered this, I began to understand one simple truth.

Whatever success we have – we’re still going to be the same person at the end of the day. (you can tweet that here)

I could sell a million books and get one hundred thousand readers on my blog. But I’m still going to be me when I go to bed in the evening. I’m still going to have all the same insecurities, doubts and fears I had the day before.

It’s the same with life.

We could have all our dreams come true. Get the partner of our dreams, get the job we’ve always wanted, find our true calling.

But we’re still going to be the same person when that happens. You’ll still be you.

I still occasionally go to the unhealthy fantasy career. But you know what, I’m starting to visit this world less and less.

Why? Simply because the reality of my story, is much more interesting. Yes, it has it’s twists and turns, and unexpected disruptions. But strangely, it’s those moments which can result in the most significant change in our lives. Take us in a whole different direction.

Just like this piece of writing. It started out one way, and ended up going a way I never imagined.

Because writing is like life.

And life is like writing.


Do you agree life is like writing? Why/why not?

What have been the big defining moments in your life?

How have you dealt with success/failure?


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This is My Truth


What Story are You Telling?


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  1. Eileen Knowles on November 11, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    You don’t know how much I needed to read this James.  Thank you.   This is so true,  “Whatever success we have – we’re still going to be the same person at the end of the day.”  It’s been a huge journey for me to be okay with that too. And sometimes I forget.   Thank you for this reminder.  Great post. 

    • James Prescott on November 11, 2012 at 7:19 pm

      Thanks for your comment Eileen. It’s really encouraging to hear how the post has blessed you. Have a great day! 

  2. annepeterson on November 11, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    The big difference between life and writing is with writing I get to do rewrites, not true with a lot of things in life. Good post James.

    • James Prescott on November 11, 2012 at 8:11 pm

      Thanks for you comment Anne – so true! 🙂

  3. Joan on November 11, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    James – I agree with Anne. With writing, we can do rewrites, with life, we can’t. However, I believe our life experiences shapes our writing.

    Great post!

    • James Prescott on November 11, 2012 at 8:26 pm

      Thanks for your comment Joan – I totally agree. Thinking there may be a series/theme for a few posts, we’ll see! Thanks again for commenting!

  4. katina vaselopulos on November 11, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    Oh James, I know exactly what you are saying. Just like Life takes you where ever you are meant to be, that is what writing does as well.

    Most of the time I wrote as in a trance. That was my best writing because my ego was not in the driver’s sheet. The times I intended to write about a specific issue, I started with that issue but my pen took me to another place.

    As I started writing to heal my body and my life, somewhere down the road I found myself trying to encourage and heal others, wanting to take part in  shaping  a better world. If I could touch one person at a time, one moment at a time, I would be touched back in return, not out of pride, as you said, but because we all would be connecting to a network of love. 

    Thank you for sharing a great post!

    • James Prescott on November 12, 2012 at 5:26 pm

      Thanks for commenting, great to hear your story of how writing has helped you and brought you healing. It sounds like you had an incredible experience. Hope you keep on writing! Thanks for commenting again. 

  5. Saz Burrows on November 12, 2012 at 12:22 am

    Wow James, another great post! Thank you so much for sharing your gift. I love the way you get straight to the point, in a concise yet still beautifully expressed way. I’m sure many folks can identify with your feelings and story, and regarding the reach of your writing it must be mind-blowing to think you may have touched one soul deeply, let alone the many which you have. So though there are no guarantees in life, let the positive responses responses to your writing really sink in and the doubts rooted in the past diminish. We can appreciate the highs better when there have been some lows, and as you have mentioned in a previous post, the lows can bring us nearer to God. It’s such a privilege when someone shares their journey (or the chapters of their life), and life, like a good book is always the better when there is a sense of intrigue and mystery about the future! I love a sense of positive anticipation, don’t you? 🙂 Saz

    • James Prescott on November 12, 2012 at 5:33 pm

      Hey Saz – totally agree. I love mystery and intrigue, and there has to be when it comes to our life journeys, our relationships with God. God must always be intertwined with mystery, unknown and unseen, otherwise it’s not God at all. It can be difficult to embrace mystery, especially if we like being in control (like me), but its something we must all do. 

      Thanks for the comment, and all the encouragement, really appreciate it!

  6. realifebrianna on November 12, 2012 at 7:07 am

    Great post, James! I love the genuine search. And, yes, life is like writing. I love the way you put that into words. Thanks. Brianna from Tribe Writers

    • James Prescott on November 12, 2012 at 5:30 pm

      Hey Brianna, thanks for your comment and for reading. Really encouraged to hear your comments. See you in the Tribe Writers group!

  7. Wendy van Eyck on November 12, 2012 at 8:15 am

    Very true. Remember when I got contact lenses I thought it would magically make a new person. It didn’t. I still felt the same even if I looked different. 

    • James Prescott on November 12, 2012 at 5:30 pm

      Thanks for your comment Wendy – totally agree how we often think external changes will change us, but they never do. Thanks again 🙂

  8. Joy Lenton on November 12, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    This is writing that seriously challenges, encourages and  touches the emotions. Not sure if it was your intention but this beautiful piece seems to have evolved almost by itself. I love the way you are able to stand back and assess the process without losing any of the magic.
    Keep on writing like this, James. Stay true to yourself and share your heart. Then you will find, as indeed you have already, that other hearts are affected as you do so. Our reasons for writing are many and varied. Each person brings their own unique, multi-faceted slant and experiences to bear on how they write.
    In the very act of writing we may change –  imperceptibly or otherwise.  Yet to stay true to ourselves and be authentic is a commendable goal for us all.
    A lovely post! Thank you 🙂

    • James Prescott on November 12, 2012 at 5:29 pm

      Thanks for your very encouraging comment. I wrote the first draft of this as a stream of consciousness post, so it did evolve – kind of deliberately but not intentionally, if that makes any sense! I will try to heed your advice about writing for sure. 

      Thanks for the encouragement. Be blessed!

  9. Lisa Colón DeLay on November 12, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    James I’m really excited to give away 2 books for Kindle today. Hope you and your friends enjoy them!  http://amzn.to/UCRukI

  10. Tanya Marlow on November 17, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    YUP. I hear you – especially on the annoying realisation that, at the end of the day, we are still the same person as ever…
    Great post!

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  17. Jackie on January 1, 2013 at 1:52 am

    Great post! Beautifully written! So thought provoking that I may have to bookmark it to read over and over again. Blessings to you

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