James Prescott

exploring how words & stories shape lives

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Join my online community today & I’ll send you two great e-books on encouragement free. You’ll also get exclusive insider updates on my upcoming book ‘Mosaic of Grace: God’s Beautiful Reshaping of Our Broken Lives’.

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‘Mosaic of Grace collects the messy & broken parts of our lives & helps us to sort the pieces into a beautiful work of sacred art, giving glory to God” – Sarah Bessey, Author, “Jesus Feminist”


10 Life “Messes” with Potential to Improve Your Life: Part 3 (Guest Post)

Today we have the final part of Erin Brown Conroy’s popular series back to the blog, about finding purpose in the midst of our mess. It’s been a pleasure hosting Erin, and today’s post is as good as ever. Over to Erin:

The last two posts, we talked about five messes in our lives—and how we can turn those messes into triumphant stories.

Here are the final five messes to avoid…and how to fix them.

MESS #6: Saying “later” to something that needs to be addressed—and never coming back to it.

Too many of us have the ostrich affect, with our heads in the sand (and if ostriches had fingers, the fingers would be stuck in their ears, too, to keep anything “bad” from getting to us).

We get good at ignoring, hoping that problems will fade away.

Ignoring a mess, a problem, or an issue never helps, never solves, and never sets lives right. Never.

10 Life ‘Messes’ With Potential To Improve Your Life – Part 2 (Guest Post)

Today I’m delighted to welcome back Erin Brown Conroy back to the blog, in the second of her three-part series on finding purpose in the midst of our mess. Over to you Erin:

Last blog post, we talked about how writers use messes to create a good story. Messes can serve a purpose, making the Hero of a story learn, grow, and become story-worthy. The Hero’s messes can serve him well.

Our messes can serve us well, too.

10 Life ‘Messes’ with Potential To Improve Your Life (Part 1) – (Guest Post)

Today I’m delighted to welcome Erin Brown Conroy to the blog. Erin is a writer, author, musician, coffee-lover & mom from Michigan, and a good friend. Today and over the next two Wednesdays, I’m hosting a series of guest posts by Erin. Today she begins by introducing the topics & themes of the series. I’m sure you’re all going to be really impacted positively by Erin’s posts. Over to you Erin:

It’s a fact that novel writers deal with crap. Poo. Foo foo. Fodder. Now that I have your attention, let me explain. (I’m going to let you in on a storywriter’s secret.)

Where do the writer’s messy ideas come from?

What Miami Vice Taught Me About Identity

In the 1980’s there was a TV show called ‘Miami Vice’, about two undercover police officers from, surprisingly enough, Miami. The image & clothing of the police officers, and it’s location, gave it a particular image which made it an iconic show of the 1980’s.

Toward the end of season 2, one of the principal characters, Sonny Crockett (played by Don Johnson, left in picture), poses undercover as a drug dealer ‘Sonny Burnett’. This is a false self with his own backstory.

But when Sonny gets hit on the head and gets amnesia, he only remembers the identity of Sonny Burnett. So he goes ahead and lives out that identity, not remembering he is an undercover police officer, existing solely as Sonny Burnett.

He’s not Sonny Burnett. It’s not his true identity. However, he continues to live and act like he is. And this story, and it’s resolution, is a great example of a fundamental truth about identity. In the words of Rob Bell:

“What we do comes out of who we believe we are”

In other words, our identity defines our reality.

Defy The Dipthong…Discover Your Voice

I’ve been writing for many years now – I try to not to remember exactly how many, as it reminds me of my age. I’ve written a 50,000 book and two other shorter books, and countless blog posts. and one thing I’ve learned, amongst many, is all writers have their own unique style. For example, you can use lots of words in big paragraphs, almost ongoing forever and ever, or you can

use

one

word

paragraphs.

And you can begin sentences with the word ‘and’ (I have a friend who does this a lot..).

None of these habits, or ‘quirks’ are in the rulebook of writing. I’m not sure I know many writers who sit down to write have a big book called ‘The Rules & Laws of Writing’ which they constantly check to ensure their writing fits the model.

Which is because there should never be lots of legalistic rules when it comes to writing. Every writer should be free to express themselves in their own language, their own style, their own unique way.

Including you.

How Not Writing Saved My Writing (& Changed My Life)

For the longest time, my identity in life was a writer. My value, worth and security was all tied up with how I did as a writer. Success in writing made me feel more valuable, and failure made me feel I’d failed as a person. Everything I was had been tied into how I performed, how much I achieved, how good I was.

Many people say writing every day is vital, and it improves you. So, as you do if you want to improve, I began writing every day.

It did improve me. But it allowed fear a route in. I become afraid to stop writing – because I thought if I stopped, I would fall behind my peers, and I wouldn’t get where I wanted to.

So I never stopped. I poured out energy every day writing. I burned myself out, and the quality of the work decreased as a result. And at the end of the day I felt a failure because it doesn’t do as well as I’d hoped, and it wasn’t my best work. I felt guilty going even one day without writing. My life had become controlled by writing.

That’s how easy and subtly these habits, roles or statuses can begin to control us.

And it comes from grounding our identity in the what we do, rather than who we are.

Which is why we need to reclaim the principle of sabbath.

Unlocking The Tsunami Of Words

Here I sit. In the coffee house. Drinking a strawberry smoother. And yet, I am in the midst of a battle. A battle to write.

Each single letter which proceeds from my iPhone keyboard is a victory. Every sentence is one more success. Every paragraph celebrated.

Sometimes my insides are dead. There seems nothing left in the well of my soul. There is a vacancy, an emptiness.

In these moments, it feels like I may never find the words again.

But I know also in those moments I am compelled to engage in battle. I need to overcome the demon of resistance. To go to war with this emptiness. Almost to refuse it.

To sit and wait for letters to fall out, words to form and paragraphs to to be pieced together like a big jigsaw. And eventually, what began as a drip of water in an endless desert, becomes a stream, then a torrent, then a tsunami of words pouring forth, spewing over the page – or my phone, in this case. Unleashed, to do their work, without prejudice or fear.

And they never end. They create new streams, new rivers of themes, ideas, and possibilities, which will remain open as long as they are unexplored.

The Journey is just beginning.

Why Writing Always Exposes The Truth

In the age of social media we allegedly bare more of ourselves than ever before. The digital realm has allegedly stripped us bare, naked. Exposed like someone standing on the street stark naked. And yet, whilst it’s true we share more of ourselves on line than ever before, I would argue we are still as protective of our true selves as we always have been.

It’s argued that our digital self, the self we portray online, on our Facebook and Twitter profiles, is an idealised reflection of our conscious self. But it goes deeper than that.

As Peter Rollins argues, our conscious self is often an idealised reflection of who we truly are. And many of us can begin to think that’s our true selves.

But it’s not.

It’s a reflection of who we want people to think we are.