Inspiration to quit: Interview with Jim Woods.
by Todd Foley
For the second installment of blogger interviews, I’m pleased to introduce Jim Woods from Unknownjim.com.
Jim lives in Nashville with his wife and daughter and describes himself as a writer, musician and dreamer – each of which are evident in his blog posts. He values honesty, creativity and community and I’m honored to have crossed paths with him.
Be sure to visit Unknownjim.com for his latest updates, stories and reflections. He’s got a lot to share.
Todd: Your blog is called “Unknown Jim.” Why should we get to know you? Better question: WHO is the person that we will get to know through reading your work?
Jim: Great question Todd! I had a nervous breakdown last summer and I was just a total mess. Depression, stress, anxiety, and the pressures of life just made me feel trapped and suffocated. During this extremely stressful time, I discovered a blog by writer Jon Acuff. He recently wrote the book Quitter, a book basically about pursuing your dream job. I found out that Jon was holding a Quitter Conference here in Nashville, so I went. The conference gave me hope. I realized that I’m not alone in my discontentment and the voices in my head are 99.99% lies. I was able to discover my creative side. This creativity was really “unknown” to me. I had to rediscover what I had loved in the past. I loved writing and creating things years ago. I found some kids’ books I had written and this time I read them with an open mind and ignored the negative voices in my head. I read the books and was actually pretty pleased with the stories. Then I thought to myself, “I might just be a writer.”
I met with my friend Jeff Goins and I said, “So…umm..I…ummm…might be a writer.” His reply was, “According to Steven Pressfield, you’re a writer when you say you are.” That really made an impression on me. Looking back, I think that was one of the most definitive moments in my life.
Todd: On your very first blog post, you quoted Henry David Thoreau: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” What is the life you imagined, and have those dreams been realized since starting your blog?
Jim: I was really not sure what I wanted to do when I wrote that first post. I just knew that I needed to put myself out there. To just start something. To not hold back because of fear, doubts or lies in my head. I knew I was being called to write, but I wasn’t sure what I would write about. Now, my vision is much clearer. I want to help others who were in a place similar to where I was. Honestly, that’s it. If there is anyone in the middle of a panic attack or just struggling as an artist, I want to help in any way I can. Whether it is through support and encouragement, or sharing about a useful resource that I have found that helped me. I think we all need more support and encouragement in our everyday life.
Todd: Tell me about your music background. When did you start playing? What was your earliest musical “Ah ha!” moment?
Jim: I honestly was not very interested in music until I saw a video of Elvis Presley performing when I was about 13 years old. I saw Elvis play the guitar and I thought to myself, “Man, he is cool. If I play guitar, I’m cool too” (laughing). I bought a cheap guitar from the pawn shop and the rest is history. After my initial Elvis obsession, I migrated toward the music of Jimi Hendrix. Because of Hendrix, I migrated to the electric guitar and actually bought a bass guitar from a friend for $20. That was probably the best $20 I’ve ever spent!
Todd: Have you always lived in Nashville? If not, what brought you there?
Jim: I’m originally from northeast Ohio and lived there for 25 years. I’m still a Buckeye at heart. I came down to Nashville back in 2005 to accept a job in Nashville. I am an accountant right now for my day job, but I know my true calling is to do much more. It’s kind of fun telling others that I’m an accountant, because no one I meet outside of work usually believes me. I think sometimes other people can see what you can’t. I know I’m not REALLY an accountant, but I’ll make the most of it while I have this opportunity.
Todd: Who are some of your favorite artists and authors? What is it that you appreciate about their music and writing?
Jim: I am a huge Jimi Hendrix fan. As a guitarist, he was very creative and did not limit himself to one type of music. I am a big fan of these authors: Jeff Goins, Steven Pressfield and Jon Acuff. They all find a way of motivating me and yet also keeping me humble. I’m also the biggest Kevin James fan you’ll ever meet. As I think about it, I think all of these artists are full of honesty and sincerity. Those are the most important things to me. I hope others can say the same about my work too.
Todd: Who, where or what do you look to as a source of inspiration?
Jim: My two-year old daughter inspires me through her innocence and raw joy. I learn so much from her. Do toddlers have any kind of filter? Of course not! They tell it like it is. When they are excited, you know it! When they are sad, you know it! I’ve heard an outstanding quote from Urslula Le Guin: “The creative adult is the child who survived.” I also look to other artists. Just meeting for coffee with another artist can give me a million ideas!
Todd: What single message do you hope someone visiting your blog would take away with them?
Jim: Do what you love to do! If you don’t know what it is you love to do, don’t stress. You will definitely find your calling. There is always hope. You are not alone.