This weeks spotlight is on author and podcaster James Prescott:
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I’m James. I live near London, I love to write, podcast, create things, and love being an uncle to my amazing niece and nephew. My paid job is in social media marketing and admin, but my vocation is creating things and sharing them with others.
How did you get into writing / what’s your biggest success or achievement in writing?
I got into writing in a very strange way. I was always good at English at school, was top of my class all the way through. But I ditched it to study politics at 18. I never considered at any point I would be a published writer, even though writing and creating things came more naturally than anything else, I could always just write. I never studied how to write, I was never obsessed with books or writing like others, it always came naturally to me – I wrote, and just kept getting A’s in my English essays. (I’m aware how annoying this will sound to many people, and I apologise if that’s you). At 25 I did a gap year, and part of this gap year involved writing assignments. People kept telling me how good my writing was, and how I needed to explore this. So I began blogging.
It was a fun thing at first, for years in fact. This was before social media, so there was no way to promote it, I never thought I’d get any kind of following. Fast forward to 2010 and someone gives me another kick up the backside. So I invest in coaching to help me become more professional, I got a self-hosted blog, and blogged religiously, every Monday morning. I got a mailing list going and wrote some e-books to give away free, and the list just got bigger. Around that time, I had an idea for a book. I had no knowledge of publishing or expectation of getting a book published, but I wanted to prove I could write a book. So I wrote it. And for years, it went nowhere.
In that time I was betrayed by a writing mentor, and lost my love of writing. I stopped blogging. Then in 2016, a very small publisher agreed to publish my book, nearly 5 years after I wrote the first draft. In 2017, it was published. I had a book published. Ironically it didn’t really reflect who I’d become by then, it was 4 years old and I’d changed dramatically. But, I’d had a book published. I expected this to launch me as a major writer. It didn’t. Because it wasn’t who I was anymore, it was the truth of who I’d been in 2012/2013, not 2017. Then I stopped writing again. I fell majorly out of love with writing. By now I had a thriving podcast which I loved doing, and had begun to enjoy more than the constant routine of blogging. I like talking, I think (haha).
So the book was my biggest achievement, despite it not doing as well as I expected or hoped. My biggest success was a free e-book still available on my blog – a book for writers trying to be authentic. That’s still the work I’m most proud of.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I’m a total geek. I love reading, I love to record podcasts (I have one of my own, Poema, and record for some others too). I enjoy watching good movies. Faves included anything Chris Nolan, anything with superheroes (Marvel or DC), Star Wars movies, biopics, dramas, musicals. Big fan of Doctor Who, early Sherlock, Suits and other great TV. I also love galleries, listening to Spotify, going to musicals, and walks down the South Bank.
What’s next for you?
My next project is a book, a memoir of my personal journey, through trauma, grief, writing and almost losing it all and finding freedom on the other side. I feel so positive about this book and sharing it with people. It will take time but I believe in this project so much. I can’t wait to write a book with the benefit of all the lessons I’ve already learned – and maybe learn some more in the process.
What would you say to people just starting out?
Write because you love it. Have the courage to tell your story, because it’s uniquely yours. Don’t write to please anyone, write what’s inside you. Tell your truth. Never compromise your integrity. And above all, never make money or numbers be the measure of the value of you, or the value of your work. Your work has value because you made it, not because of what others say about it, or how much it sells. Your work is infinitely valuable because you are infinitely valuable. Even if you are the only one who ever sees it, it’s worth the effort. Enjoy the work of writing, tell your story, find the joy there – not in the results.