Using Quotations as Prompts: A Journaling Exercise


Sometimes it is helpful to have a starting point for your writing, a question or phrase that stirs the mind and soul from a particular perspective.  We call these questions or phrases journaling prompts or springboards as they help launch you and writing in a new, and possibly unexpected, direction. I particularly like using quotes or snippets of poetry as prompts.  A quote or line of poetry can sometimes resonate with something deep within us in a way that a mere question or phrase cannot.

I have compiled a list of quotes to use as springboards for your writing.  Choose one that you feel drawn to and write it at the top of your page.  Set your timer for 15-20 minutes and let your writing take you where it wants to go from there.  Please refer back to this list throughout the month for writing inspiration. Prompts are particularly helpful if the idea of stream of consciousness writing feels daunting because you don’t feel like you have anything to say.  Let these wise words be your starting points.

“Live in each season as it passes: breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit.”

-Henry David Thoreau

“We are earthen vessels that hold the treasure.”

-John O’Donohue

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”

-John Lubbock

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love.  It will not lead you astray.”


“We need the tonic of wildness.”

-Henry David Thoreau

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

-Mary Oliver

“Stop pushing the not knowing away

Embrace the mystery

Look for the hints

Follow the clues

It’s just a game, after all.”


“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.”

-Thomas Merton

“I think the best thing I can say is to follow your bliss. If your bliss is just your fun and your excitement, you’re on the wrong track…Know where your bliss is. And that involves coming down to a deep place in yourself.”

-Joseph Campbell

“I would like to live as a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding.”

-John O’Donohue

“When food is prayer, cooking is not an effort to the soul.  One has only to quiet the ego who ever natters, “faster, faster!”  No.  The soul says instead, “slow is life giving, why would anyone ever run faster and even faster toward death?”

-Clarissa Pinkola Estes

“The notion of the day as a sacred space offers a lovely frame for the creativity that a day can bring. Sadly, in modern life, the day is often a cage where a person can lose youthfulness, energy and strength.”

-John O’Donohue

“Creativity lies not in the done, but in the doing.”

-Julia Cameron

“Help the world by leaving a trail of who you are.”

-Mark Nepo

“Your playing small does not serve the world.”

-Marianne Williamson

“Imagine treating yourself the way you treat people you love.”

-Geneen Roth

“Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.”


3 thoughts on “Using Quotations as Prompts: A Journaling Exercise

  1. Pingback: Three Questions: A Journaling Exercise – Simply True North

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