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119 Journal Prompts for Your Journal Jar

journal prompts

There are a myriad of benefits to journaling, and everyone should consider keeping a journal.

However, one of the obstacles that people face when they want to pick up the practice of journaling is that they don’t know what to write about. In this post you’ll discover 119 journal prompts to help you get started in keeping a journal, or as additional inspiration for dedicated journalers.

onehouradayformula banner longI recommend that you do the following:

  • Get a beautiful jar–it can be a canning jar, a mason jar, or any other jar you have in the house.
  • Print out the prompts below on slips of paper.
  • Place the slips of paper in the jar.
  • Reach into your jar each day as you prepare to write in your journal and take out one of the prompts.
  • 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.

Below you’ll find 119 journal prompts for your journal jar.

Sunday Scribblings

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. These can also be used as journal prompts.

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 . . .

Create Lists

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.

As a bonus, here’s an infographic with 60 lists to make when you need to lift your mood (you can download a PDF with these 60 list ideas at the end of this blog post).

lists to make


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 Journal 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

  • 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.

Landmark Events

  • 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?

Dream Triggers

Use your journaling sessions to think about your ideal life. Ask yourself dream triggers, such as the following:

  • How would you like to make this world a better place? How can you best share your gifts with the world?
  • What qualities do you want in a romantic partner? What are the top ten characteristics that you look for in a romantic partner?
  • What are the top ten qualities a friend should have (treats people with respect; listens but doesn’t judge; has a quirky sense of humor; is an artist; lives with passion; doesn’t sweat the small stuff; is loyal and trustworthy)?
  • What would make you feel spiritually fulfilled?
  • What famous world festivals would you like to attend?

You’ll find 1000 dream triggers, covering 10 different life areas, here.

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.

As promised above, here’s the PDF with the 60 lists to make when you need a mood lift. Download it, print it, and put it somewhere you can grab it when you feel like making lists. Just fill in your name and email in the form below.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Jenny August 22, 2012, 2:40 pm

    Awesome. I Love this! I also had an idea as I read through some of these prompts that I think I’m going to use some of them to do a “get to know you better” game with my siblings. As we are getting older and are now spread so far apart there is so much I’d love to know in a deeper way about them. The easier things I know, but I’d like to ask things from like “The Sky’s the Limit” along with a few other deeper questions.

  • Ali Pilgram September 12, 2012, 1:45 pm

    Hi, I’m 14 and my teacher said we needed to find some journal prompts. I stumbled upon this website and thought I’d say that I would be using it a lot for myself. I love to write and journal!!! It’s my passion and one day my future job. So thanks for making this website 🙂

  • Thorsten December 20, 2012, 11:47 pm

    Hi there! I’m at work browsing your blog from my new apple iphone! Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to all your posts! Keep up the superb work!

  • Brooke February 7, 2013, 12:42 am

    Marelisa, thank you for this wonderful list!! I’m guest posting about journals at Or So She Says on Monday (February 11) and I’m linking to your list! Hope you don’t mind. Thanks again and have a great day!

  • Marelisa February 7, 2013, 7:45 am

    Hi Brooke: It would be great if you linked to my post, thank you.

  • benjamin January 5, 2014, 1:49 am

    it was wonderful reading your journal prompts. thanks a lot. The post really assisted me

  • Vicki M Taylor July 14, 2014, 2:28 pm

    Excellent list of prompts. I appreciate all the hard work that went into this.

  • Laura Wilson September 7, 2014, 2:54 pm

    Thanks for your hard work! I’m modifying some of these for my classroom journals.

  • shirani December 21, 2014, 2:04 am

    Excellent work. kudos.

  • Jodi January 11, 2015, 4:00 am

    Been into keeping a journal since I was 21 in 1987 and found that I am sometimes still in the mood to write even after I’ve already updated my journal with what’s going at the present moment in my life. I think this is a great way to expand those journal horizons, so to speak. Although I’ve probably mentioned most of these things in my journals over the years, it’s nice to have a consolidated and organized theme I can follow such as this. Thanks!

  • xander j January 18, 2015, 3:36 pm

    This site is really awesome. I was just thinking that I wanted to make a list of journal prompts so I googled journal prompts and found this. Now I have a whole bunch of great things to write about. THANKS!