Vital Signs: The Nature and Nurture of Passion — a Review

A Review of a New Book by Gregg LevoyVital Signs

When was the last time you felt truly in love with your life, awed by the world  around you?

For many of you, as writers, one of those times was most likely when you were in the throes of creating. Yet numerous clients of mine and other members of this writing community  have also expressed frustration to me about not having enough time to write or not  having completed that book that calls to them. Some of you have felt the discontent of putting most of their energy into life’s responsibilities: work, family, friends  and more. Or, some have let fear stop you in whatever form that shows up, including  a desire to take risks but feeling held back by the need for security.

I was experiencing that kind of discontent with writing before I committed to writing my memoir, Riding Grace. One of the books that helped inspire me to say “yes”  to my memoir and my creative writing was Gregg Levoy’s earlier book, Callings. Later  on, I had the opportunity to interview him about callings for my nonprofit website. Part of that  interview is now on the Transformational Writers blog.

Now, Gregg Levoy has written an inspirational and insightful new book: Vital Signs: The Nature and Nurture of  Passion (Tarcher/Penguin). In it, he says one skill to cultivate that will support  you on your quest to complete your book is what probably drew you to your writing  project in the first place: Passion. A passion to write and a passion for your  subject matter or idea.

Vital Signs is all about how to do this, discussing the  endlesss tug-of-war between freedom and domestication. It is about the wild in us  and the tame, our natural selves and our conditioned selves.

Each chapter in the book contains a core sample, an intimate biography of one of the strategies you can employ to gain or regain your passion for writing or another area of your life. The book affirms the importance of courageous inquiry into our dis-passion–where we’re numb, depressed, stuck, bored–so that we can recognize and change these tendencies in our lives.

Author Gregg Levoy is a former columnist and reporter for USA Today and has written for many publications including The New York Times Magazine and Psychology Today. He is  also a frequent guest at many prestigious writers conferences. Read more about him and the book at his website:


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