In this post you’ll discover 119 journal prompts to help you get started in keeping a journal, or offer some additional inspiration for dedicated journalers. I recommend that you get yourself a beautiful jar, print out these prompts on slips of paper, place the slips of paper in the jar, and reach into your jar each day as you prepare yourself to write in your journal.
Set your timer anywhere from 10 to 40 minutes, depending on how much time you have available for journaling. Write anything that comes to mind as you read each prompt and elaborate on each point as much as you can.
Sunday Scribblings is a site that posts a writing prompt every Saturday. The idea is that on Sunday you create a piece of writing inspired by the prompt, post it on your blog, and leave a comment on the “Sunday Scribblings” site letting them know that you’ve participated.
Here are some of their prompts:
- What scares you?
- Do you have a Plan? Do you need a Plan? Have you had a plan fall spectacularly to pieces?
- What is your take on soul mates?
- Are you a worrier? Is there a particular worry that you can’t shake? How do you cope with worry?
- Dear Past Me . . .
- Dear Future Me . . .
You can create lists of many things, such as the following:
- Places you’ve enjoyed visiting.
- Things you’ve done that you previously thought you could never do.
- The people you most admire.
- Your favorite books.
- Your favorite movies.
- Your favorite songs.
- Your top five short term goals.
- Your top five long term goals.
Do you have anything you would like to confess (even if it’s just to the pages of your journal)?
- Nobody knows that I . . .
- Dear ____, it weighs on me that I never told you . . .
- The biggest lie I’ve ever told is . . .
- Is there anything you feel guilty about? Is there anything you need to be forgiven for?
- What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done?
- What’s your secret desire?
- What’s the most outrageous thing you’ve ever done?
Use Quotes as Prompts
Look at the following quotes and write whatever comes to mind when you read them.
- “If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; tell yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches.” — Rilke
- “I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library.” — Jorge Luis Borges
- “Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.” — Jane Howard
- “What in your life is calling you? When all the noise is silenced, the meetings adjourned, the lists laid aside, and the wild iris blooms by itself in the dark forest, what still pulls on your soul? In the silence between your heartbeats hides a summons, do you hear it? Name it, if you must, or leave it forever nameless, but why pretend it is not there?” — The Terma Collective
- “Art is when you hear a knocking from your soul and you answer.” Star Richés
The Most . . .
- The most terrifying moment of my life was . . .
- The most fun I’ve ever had . . .
- The most surprised I’ve ever been . . .
- The most disappointed I’ve ever been . . .
- What are you looking forward to the most?
Visual Journaling Prompts
- Leaf through a couple of magazines and cut out any images that catch your attention. Use each one as a prompt.
- Look through your photographs and choose a few to write about.
- Buy art books that are at a discount and cut them up for images.
- Three things you can’t go without.
- Three celebrity crushes.
- Three favorite book characters.
- Three favorite things to wear.
- Three things you want in a relationship.
- If you had to evacuate your home because of a natural disaster, what three things would you take with you?
- Three pet peeves.
- Three things you’d do if you weren’t so afraid.
- Three favorite TV shows.
100 Things I Love
You’re going to make lists that will add up to 100 things you love. Make sure you give an explanation for each of the things you add to your list. For example, don’t just list your favorite restaurants, write down what you enjoy about each one (the warm bread they serve before the meal, the waiter who always remembers your favorite dish, the whimsical decor, and so on).
- 10 Activities
- 10 Restaurants
- 10 People
- 10 Foods
- 10 Games
- 6 Drinks/Beverages
- 4 Desserts
- 10 Paintings
- 10 Web Sites
- 10 Writers
- 10 Famous lines from books/movies
Express Your Emotions
- My saddest memory is . . .
- Some of the things that make me happy are . . .
- How do you deal with anger?
- How easy is it for you to forgive those who have caused you pain?
- What is the dominant emotion in your life right now?
Rituals and Traditions
- My favorite Sunday ritual . . .
- The Holiday traditions I most look forward to . . .
- Things I always did with my dad when I was small . . .
- Things I always did with my mom when I was little . . .
Ask “If” Questions
These prompts were inspired by the book If… (Questions For The Game of Life).
- If you could have dinner with anyone currently alive, who would it be?
- If you could meet any fictional character, who would it be?
- If you could change one thing about your present life, what would it be?
- If you could live anywhere you wanted, where would you live?
- If you could go back in time and change one things from your past, what would it be?
Memories From Your Childhood
- What was your favorite toy?
- Did you ever get lost?
- Who was your best friend in elementary school?
- Did you ever run away from home?
- As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
- What was your favorite subject in school?
- Who was your favorite teacher?
- What’s your first memory?
- What was your favorite cartoon?
- What book did you read over and over again as a child?
- What is your most vivid memory of the kitchen in your childhood?
- As a child, who was your favorite relative?
Thinking of the Week That Just Ended
- Who made you feel good this week?
- What was the biggest mistake you made this week?
- What did you do this week that moved you closer to reaching your goals?
- Is there anything you did this week that you wish you’d done differently?
- What did you most enjoy doing this week?
- How did you procrastinate on important tasks this week?
- What did you learn this week?
- What’s the funniest thing that happened to you this week?
Write a Letter
- Write a letter to someone you need to forgive.
- Write a letter to someone who believed in you even when you didn’t believe in yourself.
- Write a letter to be read by each of your loved ones after you’ve passed away.
- Write a fan letter to your favorite actor/actress.
- Write a letter to the editor of your favorite magazine telling them what features you would like to see included in the magazine.
- Is there something you’re reluctant to tell someone? Write a letter to help y0u organize your thoughts.
- Write about your first dance.
- Write about your first crush.
- Write about your first week in college.
- Write about your first job.
- Write about the first apartment you ever rented.
- When did you feel truly independent for the first time?
The Sky’s the Limit
- What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
- What would you do if money were no object?
- What would you ask for if a genie granted you three wishes?
- What’s your wildest dream?
- What would you do if you could live a day without consequences?
- What grand adventure do you wish you could go on?
- If you could become an expert in any subject or activity, what would it be?
- What would your perfect day be like?
- Close your eyes and imagine the kind of world you would like to see. What is it like?
An Ode To Your Uniqueness
- What makes you unique?
- How do you stand out from the crowd?
- What are your best character traits?
- What are you really good at?
- How would you describe yourself?
- How would your best friend describe you?
- What character traits do you need to work on?
- What are some of your idiosyncrasies?
- How do you indulge yourself? Do you need to indulge yourself more often?
- How do you think others see you when they meet you for the first time?
Bonus – Memory Triggers
My eBook, “Create Your Life Story”, contains 444 memory prompts, covering several life areas, to help you get started recording your memories and writing your life story. They can also be used as journaling prompts.
Here are three of the prompts that you’ll find inside:
- Was there anything noteworthy about your mother’s upbringing –she grew up in extreme poverty or extreme wealth; she grew up during the Great Depression; she grew up surrounded by artists, philosophers, or politicians; her family moved around a lot when she was growing up; and so on?
- Write down three of your father’s favorites (it could be his favorite singer, his favorite book or author, his favorite movie, his favorite time of the year, his favorite basketball player, his favorite artist, his favorite meal, his favorite dessert, and so on).
- Do you have any famous or high profile family members? If so, write about them.
Keeping a journal is a great tool for changing your life for the better. In addition, keeping prompts in a journal jar will make journaling easier. The prompts above are a great place to start.