8 Writing Prompts Inspired by Your Favorite Books
Give me a cup of tea and well-worn book, and the outside noise quiets in reverence to the words on a page. There is something sacred about the written word. It’s the one constant while friends, jobs and situations ebb and flow.
At every chapter of my life, there was a book. In my youth, spiritual curiosity led me to Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now and later to Thomas Moore’s A Religion of One’s Own. Gregg Levoy’s Callings was the mentor I needed when aimlessly searching for my life purpose. And then when I finally found it, self-doubt and reluctance threatened its pursuit until I read Tara Mohr’s Playing Big. Risking vulnerability in my professional life was one thing, but being authentic in my personal relationships would have been impossible without Brene Brown, Ph.D. and Glennon Doyle Melton.
Books were my ticket to life transformation. But it can also just be a good read. A friend once told me, “If self-help books were really helpful, people wouldn’t have to keep buying them.” I think the difference lies in your ability to roll up your sleeves and do the work. A call to change is as simple as asking yourself the right questions. As Levoy says in Callings, “Questioning is a prerequisite to change and innovation, and without it there is no discovery.”
These questions culled from some of my favorite books inspired my own spiritual growth, self-awareness and emboldened me take ownership of my life. Each is an invitation to ask yourself who you are, what your purpose is, and why you are here.
- “Are you resisting your here and now?” In The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle says resisting your current situation does nothing to change it. The only way to shift your situation is to leave it, change it or learn to accept it.
- “Did I do the work I needed to do? Did I give it everything I had?” Cheryl Strayed in Brave Enough says the real measure of success is whether we can answer yes to both questions.
- “What would love do?” Too often we give fear a voice, but don’t let love speak. In Carry On Warrior, Glennon Doyle Melton said she listened to love during one of the most uncertain times of her life and it was the guidance she needed.
- “Are you working in a support capacity for an innovator because you’re afraid to risk becoming an innovator yourself?” In Turning Pro, Steven Pressfield says instead of pursuing what we’re called to do we sometimes get sidelined by fear and take less scary, shadow jobs instead. When we discover what career we’re hiding from, we’ll discover our true calling.
- Playing Big’s Tara Mohr says one way to deal with your inner critic is to ask, “What harm are you trying to protect me from?”
- “What are you passionate enough about that you can endure the most disagreeable aspects of the work?” In Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert says everything worth pursuing comes with its own baggage. When you find something that you love more than you hate the un-fun stuff, you found your life’s work.
- “[D]oes our ___________ (eating, drinking, spending, gambling, saving the world, incessant gossiping, perfectionism, sixty-hour work-week) get in the way of our authenticity?...Are we using _____ to hide or escape from the reality of our lives?” According to Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection, we all numb, but answering these questions tell us whether we’re doing it at the expense of our authenticity and vulnerability.
- “Did anything remarkable happen at the twelve-year intervals in your life?” Thomas Moore shares a conversation he had with master astrologer Lynn Bell in A Religion of One’s Own. Every twelve years, Jupiter returns to a person’s sign so that these particular intervals are opportune times to reflect.
Use these questions as writing prompts for your journal today and see where they lead you.