12 Inspirational Authors + Tips to Learn from Them

Posted on Apr 10, 2024

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Written by Sarah Rexford

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Did you know that inspirational authors’ books can provide guidance for writers no matter what genre they write? If you are a writer, aspiring author, or already published, you can learn from inspirational authors. 

When you choose to read their work, you can take your writing journey from monotonous and overwhelming to enjoyable in just a few minutes. 

Whether you feel discouraged with where you are in your publishing journey, or simply want to learn the stories of successful authors, this article is for you.

Inspirational authors: what’s covered

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Learn from inspirational authors

There are countless lessons to learn from inspirational authors. Whether you want to learn how to be an effective individual, write fiction readers can’t put down, or inspire creatives on their journey, inspirational authors teach it all.

The power of these inspirational authors’ life lessons has been condensed into books you can read in a weekend or two. If you want to grow as an author and learn from some of the best, simply pick up a title and dive in. 

Inspirational authors teach countless lessons through their books, but here are just a few:

  • How to use tone to better communicate your message
  • How to write important topics in an engaging way
  • The importance of creativity in both fiction and nonfiction 

What are inspiring books to read?

What book you choose to read depends on your personal goals. You may want to read inspirational authors in fiction, self-help, or memoir. It’s up to you to determine which titles to place at the top of your to-read list.

That said, below are a few titles you can learn from no matter where you find yourself today:

  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  • How To Win Friends and Influence People
  • The Alchemist

Rather than just leave you with these titles, let’s dive into the authors behind them and what made them great.

12 inspirational authors to read

There are so many inspiring authors, past and present, to choose from. To help you start your reading list, I include 12 authors in a plethora of book genres. Fiction writers can learn from nonfiction, and vice versa.

No matter what genre you write, here are 12 authors’ character traits to learn from.

1. Stephen Covey

Author of the bestseller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Covey made a distinct mark on the world. His legacy lives on today. Leaders still turn to his books for guidance and wisdom.

2. Admiral William McRaven

Sometimes inspiration comes through ground-breaking research. Other times, a simple reminder of the importance of making your bed is all you need. Make Your Bed is a short book with a simple title. Despite its brevity, the principles McRaven instilled can be life changing. 

3. Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison received both the Nobel Prize in Literature as well as the Medal of Freedom. Her attention to detail, beautiful prose, and ability to show, rather than simply tell, her stories made her one of the top inspirational authors. 

4. J. D. Salinger 

Best known for his novel, The Catcher in the Rye, Salinger was considered the most important American writer to emerge since World War II.

5. Paulo Coelho

Author of the bestselling book, The Alchemist, Coelho’s theme reveals that life’s blockades are actually just obstacles. With over 30 titles to his name Paulo Coelho is a prolific writer in multiple genres. Looking for more books like The Alchemist? We’ve got you!

6. Elizabeth Gilbert

Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear, became a New York Times bestseller. Gilbert’s inspiring work is a must-read for aspiring creatives. If you need a creative boost or want to inspire yourself for the future, put her book on your list.

7. Brené Brown

Brown rose to fame due to her TED Talk, The Power of Vulnerability, resonating with so many. Despite her initial overwhelm at her literal overnight success, she has grown to embrace her platform. 

Today, she shares her research through many channels: professor, speaker, author, and podcast host. 

8. Jerry B. Jenkins

Best known for his Left Behind novels, first published in 1995, Jenkins has authored over 200 books. A 21-time New York Times bestselling author, he continues to write and coach writers today.

In his nonfiction, Writing For The Soul, Jenkins shares many of the stories that impacted his current success.

Jenkins often reminds aspiring authors that every name writer was once unknown and unpublished. 

9. Sylvia Plath

Plath was credited for advancing confessional inspirational poetry, and posthumously received the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry in 1982.

10. Beatrix Potter 

Known for her children’s books, people often associate her with her first commercially published book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit. In addition to her work as a writer, Potter was an illustrator, conservationist, and natural scientist. 

11. Dale Carnegie

Carnegie’s 1936 book, How To Win Friends and Influence People, became one of the bestselling books of all time. An inspirational story in the area of self-help, Carnegie was a lecturer and developed courses around self-improvement.

12. Francine Rivers

Rivers began her career in the general market writing historical romance. In the late 1980s she transitioned to inspirational romance novels with Christian themes. She is best known for her bestselling novel, Redeeming Love.

Why are these authors inspirational? 

Inspirational authors rarely set out to be known by the term, but their ability to write in a way that resonates with readers earns the title. 

As you looked through the above list, what common themes stood out? These inspirational authors cover multiple genres, and their writing appeals to a variety of readers. So what is it that makes them stand out? 

1. Resisted the urge to play it safe 

Francine Rivers took her proficiency in her preferred genre, historical romance, and applied it to writing a love story inspired by two historical figures. 

By resisting the urge to play it safe and stick to the genre she had always written, she broadened her horizons and poured out her creative talent.

Today, she is a New York Times bestselling author with one of her novels turned into a movie. Her work has been translated into over 30 languages. Her relatable character flaws and stories of overcoming challenges resonate with writers.

2. Shared from places of deep vulnerability

Sylvia Plath shared moments from her difficult life. These stories resonate with readers. Brené Brown faced her own vulnerabilities to share her message with millions. Regardless of their chosen genre, these inspirational authors wrote with deep vulnerability. 

3. Choose topics and themes that matter

Inspirational authors recognize the importance of their readers. Rather than play it safe, ignore the deeper topics, or choose easy themes, inspirational authors go all in.

Jerry B. Jenkins, a well-known name in Christian faith publishing, shared his early years of difficult feedback yet dedication to his craft to inspire countless aspiring writers. His fiction and nonfiction cover various, important themes.

Your next step to becoming an inspirational author

If you’re looking to become an inspirational author, check out the free resource below. It will help you get started on your next manuscript, whether fiction or nonfiction.

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