A Content-Worthy Life?

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“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” ~Henry David Thoreau


People often ask where my ideas for books, blog posts, essays and keynotes come from.

Simple answer…life outside of writing books, blog posts, essays and giving talks.

I launch a company, product or experience, succeed, struggle, fail, recover…so I write about it.

I have a great customer experience at a restaurant, or a terrible one…so I write about it.

I watch my daughter grow up and wonder at what she’s thinking along the way…so I write about it.

I struggle to build a career while also honoring my desire to be present in the lives of the people and experiences I hold dear…so I write about it.

I try to grab the reigns of health, fitness and mindset, sometimes in triumph, other times defeat…so I write about it.

I have conversations with incredible people…so I write about it.

I paint, write music, travel, go on walkabout, wonder which way is up…so I write about it.

I blend that with the quirky lens through which I take in the world and out comes content, stories, ideas, discoveries and experience.

On the rare occasion I feel stumped for things to write about, it’s always because I’ve spent too much time writing and not enough time living beyond the pen.

It’s always a sign I need to put down the moleskine and step away from the screen.

Not in the name of contriving a content-worthy life, but in the name of living a life worth writing writing about.


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45 responses

45 responses to “A Content-Worthy Life?”

  1. Dave Ursillo says:

    This piece, Jonathan, captures the essence of what it really means to be a writer.


  2. Al Pittampalli says:

    Great post, Jonathan. So many of us spend so much time writing and blogging about life, we forget that actually living it is what provides the insights. Great Thoreau quote, BTW.

  3. This article is a great reminder that we can step out of the box we think our blog or site puts us in and simply write about our life experiences.

    One of my favorite travel writers (Willie Weir) said:

    “travel is what happens when you take the time to experience where you’ve arrived”.

    Similarly, I think writing is what happens when you take the time to reflect on where you’ve arrived.

  4. Leah Carson says:

    LOVE this post, Jonathan!

    Writing is like drawing water from a well. If the well doesn’t get replenished, it dries up.

    I give this advice to others all the time. Yet, too often, I become wrapped up in a project and days go by before I realize I’ve done nothing but work. When I start floundering, spinning my wheels, and struggling to write, it’s a huge cue to get out and recharge!

  5. Tara Gentile says:


    I find it such a blessing & responsibility to be tasked with living in a way that is challenging, fulfilling, and nuanced. My life feeds my writing – my writing feeds my life.

    The awareness that blogging, coaching, and teaching bring to my life is something I treasure.

  6. Anne Wayman says:

    Oh yeah, mostly it’s a matter of sorting out the ideas I’ve got so many of them. And I just wrote about the need to re-create after a big writing push… love the alignment.

  7. Anna says:

    And it also captures the essence of what it means to live. This is a wonderful post. Thank you.

  8. Hiro Boga says:

    “…living a life worth writing about.” That’s the heart of the matter.

    Good writing (and yours draws me here just about each day!) reflects, amplifies and deepens the current of life — but it’s only as great as the life itself.

  9. We learn by living and teach by sharing…

    Thanks, Jonathan…

  10. This is one of the hard truths you’re never gonna read about on some how-to-write (or how-to-blog) site because it’s no magic bullet. Not doing anything worth writing about is actually why 99% of all blogs suck, and no amount of training in copywriting or SEO will help in the slightest.

  11. I love that your topics are not contrived, but based on your life! You write about “you”. That’s refreshing and more interesting than facts, graphs and figures. Thanks, Jonathan!

  12. Jason says:

    Same thing when you’re a musician. The best thing I ever did for my music was to get out from behind the keyboard and go live.

    That substance of life is the raw creative material you draw on to make magic.

  13. Bingo.

    People wonder why I took a hiatus from the social media world (especially twitter) for a few months — I was actually busy living in the real world, collecting experiences that would be useful to write about. I find that I have a natural ebb and flow to my writing frequency; I cycle between periods spent gathering experiences and writing about them.

    Without the experience, you have nothing to draw on to write about.

  14. This couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m a new blogger who’s struggling with the “stay in your niche” advice. This article was an epiphany: by “staying in my niche,” I’ve been preventing myself from finding my voice. I’ve actually been pushing my life out of my writing, and it’s not working at all.
    Thank you!

  15. MikeTek says:

    Hemingway is the quintessential example of the full life as a source for words. So much of his life was in his work.

    On average, our lives are much easier today than the lives of people 100 years ago (when Hemingway was a young man). And there aren’t many of us that will claim lives as adventurous as Hemingway’s.

    All the more reason to find something hard to do and have at it.

  16. I love this one Jonathan – you hit it with “On the rare occasion I feel stumped for things to write about, it’s always because I’ve spent too much time writing and not enough time living beyond the pen.”…. I can so relate – just let life happen and you’ll be able to write about it…

    In gratitude to living and the possibilities of life,

  17. […] Check out Jonathan Fields’ blog post here. […]

  18. Sukhi says:

    Love the part about too much writing and not enOugh living. For me it’s about too busy being busy Doing life vs. Taking a step back and being in the wonder and amazement of life, which is actually being in life.

  19. Thanks once again Jonathan for the reminder that living comes before writing. I’m guilty of work, work, working until the well is dry. It’s time to step away from the computer to replenish the well.

  20. Sheena says:

    Thank you for this inspiring post!

    Sometimes I forget that wile living a content filled life, those normal for us “day to day experiences” are worth writing about and do have value to others.

    This was a great reminder, thank you for sharing.

  21. Life is for living. One day, one experience, one encounter at a time.

    Too often I observe individuals living in the in the “digital world” but missing out on the “real world” … and by that I don’t mean the contrived one on TV which isn’t all that real.

    Put down the pen, leave the desk, turn off the TV. Ignore you iPhone, your iPad, you Nook. Connect not only with others but with yourself as well. The world will not stop if you ignore the phone, email, twitter, text or chats. If fact, I think it would be a better place with a little less of all of that.

    We often look for the big solutions and big changes when the little ones can have the most impact. For example, taking a few minutes to enjoy Nature around you can go a long way. I’ve personally been enjoying my back deck and the woods behind me as many days as possible since I wrote a blog about Nature. (http://synergetic-solutions.com/the-value-of-nature/) My inner peace has increased each day I’ve done this.

    Be present. Be real. You’ll likely be much happier. I know I am.

    • P.S. Does it really matter if you write about it? I don’t think so. The more important thing (at least in my world view) is to live it. But when you do write, the writing is much richer with the experience behind it.

      Live your Content Worthy life. Peace everyone.

  22. “…living beyond the pen.” Love that.

    Living does definitely come before writing, and without the well to draw from, our writing suffers. That said, I disagree with Faith — writing it does matter, for some of us. I am a writer. It’s not a job. It’s how I share with the world. Yes, it’s more important for me to, say, take care of my son than write about it. But writing through my experiences is what helps me to be a sane and decent person; his life’s better because I write.

    • Hi Cathy – Let me clarify what I meant. Write if you feel inspired or driven to do so. Let the writing flow. Live first and choose to write if you so desire rather than feeling like you are “pressed” to write. I’ve observed individuals trying to “force” the writing.

      What was on my mind was Martine’s earlier comment “Not doing anything worth writing about is actually why 99% of all blogs suck, and no amount of training in copywriting or SEO will help in the slightest.”

      Writing clearly matters to you. May it bring you joy and fullfillment. Namaste.

  23. Ann Marie says:

    You make it sound simple, because it is simple. I’m the one that makes writing difficult. I may have to print this out & tape it to my laptop so I’m constantly reminded.

    Thanks for the thought-full post, Jonathan.

  24. Dan says:

    Bravo Jonathan! Not only does this capture the essence of what it is to be an author, but it captures what is to be human! Too often we get caught up in our professional identity – sometimes to the point that it is the first thing to come out of our mouths!

    Life has so much more to offer, and it is so important that we truly experience it if we want to share it with others, and encourage them to take steps to improve themselves.


  25. Cindy Thompson says:

    Thank you Jonathan for stepping beyond writing into authentic and heart motivated writing. Many people can write about all kinds of things, though only some people understand and write from a place of being authentically connected from the heart, and you are one of those people.

    I appreciate your heart centered approach and am inspired as I embark on my own path of writing and self expression!

    With gratitude and love,
    Cindy Thompson

  26. Joanna Penn says:

    This is one of the reasons I moved back from Australia to London, Jonathan. I feel there is so much more of the kind of life I need to live here! I devour the culture, the euro-travel and the ideas are free flowing now I am near the source of my writing inspiration! I totally agree with this – we must fill our creative wells in order to create in our turn.

  27. Ivan says:

    Most people aren’t interested enough in their own life.

  28. Whoohoo Jonathan, I love it!!! How else can one write? What else is there to write about but that which transpires during the experience of living? The rest of it, all that teachie/preachie crap is just so. . . .unreal.

  29. Steve Strother says:

    Thank you for this great post Jonathan. Your statement that “I struggle to build a career while also honoring my desire to be present in the lives of the people and experiences I hold dear” really struck a chord with me. I have been thinking a lot lately about this exact topic and how to better balance these two areas of my life and seeing you put it into such a clear and concise statement regarding your own experiences was helpful to me.

  30. Susan Colket says:

    Write on!

  31. I’m iffy with the title of “writer”
    I’m first and foremost a doer. A person looking to tell a great story with their life. Occasionally I write about it.

  32. Susan Morgan says:

    Fantastic. The Thoreau quote alone made me sit back and take a breath. Your post said so much. As someone who is just starting a blog, vital for me to remember. Thank you.

  33. Jonathan,
    Beautiful. Beautifully written.

    I’ve been worried about what is going to happen when I am gone for 10 days at a time, for almost 3 months? What will happen to the website I have built and have been improving since February? What will my folks that have followed my blog (not many, but still very important to me)… will they wait for me? What will happen to our business-hopes, our presence (thru me) on line? Will it all be for nothing and will I have to start over?

    I asked this of Erica Allison, just yesterday, during my consultation with her. I have already begun implementing her advice to prepare. I also now have you telling me almost what Erica told me. Go Live. Have something very special for us when you return! Jonathan, thanks.

    I’m going to take this over to FB since you closed comments on me!! Bye, now. ~Amber-Lee

  34. Way to bring it on home, Jonathan!

  35. Jackie says:

    I know when I begin to feel stifled, its because Im too much in my head, and not enough in my heart. This is a sure sign I’ve been spending too much time in the office and not living as I should.

    Nice reminder to get the priorities straight. Thanks Jonathan

  36. Whirlochre says:

    Sometimes, the worst thing a writer can do is to read books.

    The end product is a very poor starting point when it comes to generating new stuff.

  37. Rex says:

    Poetic, Jonathan.

    Loved the quote from Thoreau, and your own.

    One book about what I’ve learned in life, coming right up!

    (relatively speaking… like this year sometime.)


  38. Ian Edwards says:

    Great post Jonathan. This ‘step away, experience life’ process doesn’t just apply to writing or creative thought. It equally applies to generating new ideas to solve so many of the business, personal or family issues we all tackle on a daily basis.

  39. John Sherry says:

    People watching is my great well of wisdom Jonathan – it never fails to spark a memory, ignite an idea, or capture a post with meaning. Yes, people and the world, a fertile ground for all that’s true!

  40. Patricia Reiter says:

    It is indeed important to LIVE life! :]

  41. Rob says:

    This resonates.

    I was chatting with a musician the other day about inspiration and commented,

    “you can’t always write songs about writing songs”

  42. Benny says:

    I find that my best writing comes from getting carried away in memories. Your post Jonathon is quite inspiring 🙂

  43. Lori says:

    Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. — Benjamin Franklin