Journal writing is nothing new – but it works. Sometimes the best way to figure out who you are is to get to that place where you don’t have to be anything else. This can be as simple as writing a journal – a place to note your personal reflections on the days events. If you haven’t written since you were a teenager – all the more reason to dive deep and reconnect with yourself.
ideas and reflections on Writing a journal
Kickstart for New Journal Writers
1. Protect your privacy.
Store your journal in its own special place so that the temptation for others to read is diminished. Ask for agreement with your housemates that your journal is private. Reserve the first page of any new journal for your name and phone number or e-mail address, along with a notice:
This is my personal journal. Please do not read it without my permission.
If none of that would stop whoever might read your journal, get a shredder. Find a creative way to protect your privacy, such as a new gmail or yahoo account, freshly passworded, from which to write yourself at that address. Or keep your journal on a flash drive. Make your privacy an intentional act. Even use a online blog tool to publish to private (I can show you how to do this…)
2. Start with an entrance meditation.
Nearly every journal technique benefits from a few minutes of focused quieting. Use visualization, soft music, candles, deep breathing, stretches, whatever works for you. This is powerful and creates a sense of occasion and ritual around your process. Successful writers do it – why shouldn’t you?
3. Date every entry.
If you only establish one habit in your journal, let it be this one! Dating every entry allows you to chronologically reconstruct your journal by date. It also lets you hear the silence between your entries. AND don’t begin with an apology for living your life. Of course you are going to skip days, even months and seasons – just not years…
4. Keep (and re-read) what you write.
Often the writes that feel like throw-aways contain the seeds for future insight. Keep it, re-read it later, and surprise yourself with how much you knew that you didn’t know you knew! But don’t let a potential writing episode turn into a re-read and ruminate episode! Write- always write first and read and reflect once you have done the work.
5. Write quickly.
You can outsmart dreaded “journal block” by writing so fast that the Internal Critic and the Internal Censor can’t keep up. Keep your pen moving! It does not need to be brilliant – often sheer bulk of written content helps to move through that blockage stage.
6. Start writing; keep writing.
Start with the present moment (“What’s going on?”) Or start with a feeling (“I’m so mad I could bust!”) Or start with a story (“Today the weirdest thing happened….”) Once you’ve started, don’t go back to edit or rewrite. And don’t think too much. Let it flow. It’s about forward momentum, as though you are moving along a conveyor belt, once you let something out, do not stop everything to scoop it back up.
7. Tell yourself the truth.
Your own truth is not your enemy. Don’t try to talk yourself out of knowing what you know or feeling what you feel. Give yourself permission to tell the truth. Also give yourself permission to pace yourself. If the truth seems too bright or harsh, then slow it down. The process itself of seeing and reflecting o your truth is a powerful release.
8. Write naturally.
If there is one inviolate rule of journal writing, it is that there simply are no rules! Do what works. Don’t worry about what you’re not doing. Give yourself permission. Be authentic! Let yourself enjoy the process!
Journalling provides us with a necessary outlet for our authentic personal thoughts and feelings.
It reminds us to validate and acknowledge them as being important enough to write down and examine. As the words flow from the pen, they are released from being harbored inside where self-examination can be difficult. Many things we worry and ruminate on are because we leave them in the mind space – once you get them down on the paper space, suddenly they look a lot less intimidating.
What people in the world think of you is really none of your business. -Martha Graham
A journal’s purpose is best served when it is written for you and you alone. The most effective way to journal is to write freely, knowing that no one else will ever see it unless you invite them to. Often times we write for a perceived audience. We consider our words too carefully, lest they be judged by others or for fear of hurting someone’s feelings.
If we are to truly know ourselves, we should write candidly, openly and without fear of reprisal. Here are two lists of 100 journalling prompts (200!) that should help you on your path to writing your truth. No excuses! So, pick up a pen and get to work. Start writing and don’t stop until there is nothing left.
Your life story -as you see it- is waiting to be told.
1. Define your personal style.
2. Describe a time when you were brave.
3. What does being a friend means to you?
4. I wish everyone had___…
5. Your idea of a perfect day.
6. In what ways do you consider yourself to be quirky?
7. How do you feel about loneliness?
8. Your favorite childhood memory.
9. Someone whose life is better because they knew you? Why?
10. Ten things you hold most dear.
11. Describe LOVE using all five senses.
12. Someone that you are keeping in your life for their sake, not yours.
13. Something you have been avoiding.
14. A goal you’ve been putting off.
15. Who is someone you admire? Why?
16. Someone who profoundly affected you.
17. I secretly wish I ___…
18. Your biggest fear & how to conquer it.
19. Who do you need to forgive? Why?
20. Your bucket list.
21. Something about yourself that you’re most proud of.
22. What role do you play in your family?
23. Something seemingly out of your reach.
24. How do you feel you are perceived by others?
25. What’s your favorite color and why?
Defining myself, as opposed to being defined by others, is one of the most difficult challenges I face. -Carol Mosely-Brown
26. The three things you are most grateful for today.
27. Write a letter to your parents, spouse, children.
28. Describe what feeling safe means to you.
29. Three words to describe your life.
30. Something you have always felt was missing in your life.
31. Do you feel lovable?
32. Some things that you’d like to hear right now.
33. If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be and why?
34. What lessons did you take from your regrets?
35. Describe your dream home.
36. Your most embarrassing moment.
37. Your proudest moment.
38. Describe a failure that turned out to be a blessing.
39. Your interpretation of a recent dream.
40. Something you want people to know about you.
41. Something you don’t want people to know about you.
42. What’s your favorite song and why?
43. Someone who is not in your life as often as you would wish and why.
44. What characteristics do you judge the most harshly in others?
45. What characteristics do you judge the most harshly in yourself?
46. Describe a time you felt courageous.
47. Your most satisfying victory.
48. Your most agonizing defeat.
49. Write a letter to someone who hurt you that you will never send. Just to get it out of your heart & mind.
50. How do you want to be remembered after you die?
We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be. -Jane Austen
51. How would your life be different if you felt comfortable being yourself at all times?
52. Describe ‘a beginning’ that impacted you.
53. Describe a situation in which it was ‘the end’ of something for you.
54. What do you believe is your life purpose?
55. Describe the kindest thing you have ever done for someone.
56. Something you did to someone that you have trouble forgiving yourself for.
57. Describe how you felt when you visited your grandparent’s house as a child.
58. A gift you gave someone that you were most proud of.
59. Write a letter you would like read at your funeral.
60. What does forgiveness mean to you?
61. What type of person makes you feel inferior?
62. Three characteristics you would like to possess.
63. What are some things you can do this week that you can be proud of?
64. Describe a time when you made someone’s day.
65. I wish people would___…
66. Some things you take for granted and why?
67. What would the title of your biography be and why?
68. Some things you noticed today that you had been missing all along?
69. What room in your home best reflects who you are and why?
70. When you give do you eventually expect something in return?
71. Is your destiny formed by choice or chance? Explain.
72. If you could go back and do it again, at what age would you like to begin from?
73. List five non-materialistic things you would like to have right now.
74. What area of your life needs the most growth and how are you working on that?
75. Something you could invent to make the world a better place.
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined. -Henry David Thoreau
76. What things about yourself do you feel that someone who just met you would like?
77. Something you have been meaning to do and have been putting off. Why?
78. What era do you feel you would have most comfortably belonged living in?
79. Who is your hero and why?
80. If money were no object what gifts would you give to three people in your life?
81. Describe your sense of humor.
82. Describe the process you go through when you are planning to buy something expensive for yourself.
83. Write a letter to God.
84. What’s your definition of family?
85. What do you feel most guilty about? Why haven’t you been able to forgive yourself?
86. Write a letter to your past.
87. What emotion dominates you life lately?
88. If you could change one thing about your life what would it be and why?
89. What positive, life-affirming aspects do you carry with you every day?
90. Take a crack at writing a poem!
91. Write a fairytale starring you.
92. A time you acted without thinking and its impact on you and others.
93. What if you were granted three wishes?
94. A goal you’re working towards and your progress so far.
95. What things in your life do you truly enjoy vs. tolerate?
96. What are your three largest priorities?
97. Something in your past that needs letting go of.
98. Some things you do daily that you don’t enjoy and why? Can they be re-evaluated, delegated or eliminated?
99. How do you feel about commitment in general?
100. Write a sincere letter to someone you need to forgive. Even if it’s yourself.
Here’s another hundred prompts – these are in a more conversational style…
What do you think are some of the pluses and minuses of social media?
- What quote has had the most impact on your life?
- Who would you like to shadow for a few days & why?
- There’s absolutely no substitute for__________…
- What is your favorite gift to give?
- If you saw a giant package on your front doorstep, what would you hope was in it?
- If you had $5,000, what would you do with it?
- If you had $5,000,000, what would you do with it?
- What would you like to be remembered for after your death?
- What is your most prized possession?
- When you get impactful news who is your first phone call?
- What is the most influential book you’ve ever read?
- What tv character reminds you of yourself?
- If you could go on a vacation anywhere, where would you go?
- If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
- What’s the most frustrating thing a person can do when you’re conversing with them?
- If you could find out the date of your death would you want to know it?
- What do you want to be remembered for after you die?
- What’s the best gift you ever received?
- What was the happiest day of your life?
- Which of your personal traits do you hope your children will receive?
- If you had one year to live what’s the first thing you’d do?
- What is your idea of a happy family?
- Share a phrase that comforts you.
- What do you think your purpose is in life?
- What do you like most about yourself?
- What do you think others feel is your best quality?
- Is it harder for you to see good in others or good in yourself? Explain.
- What do you do when you are depressed or feeling down?
- What can you identify as a turning point in your life?
- What’s an important goal you’d like to accomplish in the next year?
- Where do you grow the most – in solitude or in relationships?
- What person in your life has had the most impact on you.
- If you could be invisible for a day what would you do?
- If you won the lottery would you quit your job?
- Are you more patient with yourself than with others?
- What’s your biggest fear?
- How would you spend your ideal day?
- Where do you go when you want to be alone?
- What’s something about you that you hope others will notice?
- Which of your emotions do you find most difficult to control?
- What do you do when you want to get out of something?
- Tell about a gift you have given and are proud of.
- Where do you go to get validated or appreciated?
- As you look at the world what is something you sometimes wonder about?
- What’s one thing you’d like to try before you die?
- What do you like most about your closest friend?
- What’s one thing no one should ever give up on?
- Will you raise your children more or less strictly than you were raised?
- Name one thing you can do now that you couldn’t a year ago.
- Name one thing you want to do better.
- What thrills you?
- How do you show someone you like them?
- Tell about something good that has happened as a result of a choice you’ve made.
- What is one quality you would want in a friend? Why?
- When you were a child, for what did you receive the most criticism or punishment?
- Which of your responsibilities do you wish you could eliminate?
- Describe your ideal mate.
- What makes you dislike a person on sight?
- What do you see everywhere you go?
- What was the hardest decision you’ve ever had to make?
- What makes someone a hero?
- What is one of the temptations you struggle with a lot?
- What would you like to feel more confident about?
- What frustrates you?
- What are three things you are really sensitive about?
- What are three things you like to be complimented on?
- What are some things you like or brag about?
- What’s something you think others believe about you?
- What things complicate your life?
- What feelings do you have the most trouble expressing?
- What dreams are you still trying to make come true?
- What is your favorite time of the day?
- If you could trade places with anyone in the world for one day, who would it be?
- What one quality do you look for most in friends?
- What one word would you use to describe each person in the group?
- It you could receive a sixth sense, what would you want it to be?
- What do you believe will likely never happen?
- What makes you frustrated?
- What is success?
- How do you feel about growing older?
- How would you describe peace?
- What always seems to distract you?
- In what ways are you your own worst enemy?
- What makes a house a home?
- What’s something you purchased but haven’t used or gotten rid of?
- What talents do you wish you had?
- How would you describe a happy family?
- What’s the closest you have come to fearing for your life?
- In what ways do you act like a child?
- What job would you refuse to do regardless of the pay?
- If you wrote a book about yourself, what would it be titled?
- Would you be friends with you?
- What makes a ‘good neighbor’?
- What is your favorite room in your house? Why?
- What are some of the things that make you feel like weeping?
- What is the most unique thing you own?
- How do you feel about the way you use your money and your lifestyle in general?
- What one simple fact do you wish everyone understood?
- What are your top five personal values?
- When did you first realize that life is short?