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20 Creative Prompts To Help You Fill Your Journal

Journalling is an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling practice to get into. There is so much that you can explore about yourself and the world around you through writing, and so much that can be learnt throughout the process. Despite this, it is all too easy to get ‘stuck’; to be sat in front of an empty page and have no idea how to fill it. In these moments, often all that’s missing is a flicker of inspiration. The reality is that there are an infinite number of things that can be written about at any given time; the sky's the limit, and within the privacy of a journal, no topic is off bounds. In fact, all too often people get stuck simply because they have limited their definition as to what a journal should and shouldn’t include. It is important to break out of this mindset and come to view the journal as a blank canvas for self-expression; from the factual to the fantastical, the sentimental to the surreal. With this in mind, here are a selection of prompts that can be used to overcome your writer’s block, or simply to diversify the content of your journal with fresh new approaches and ideas.

  1. Recreate the happiest moment of your life

    Think back to the past and try to remember the single happiest moment of your life. What led to that moment? What made it so special? Try to describe the moment in your writing in as much detail as possible, reliving the memory in prose.

  2. Self-love checklist

    Appreciate yourself! Write down as many of your best qualities as you can think of. These could be things you’re praised for by others, or simply qualities you like about yourself. Think about your physical, spiritual, and emotional characteristics as you do this. There is no modesty required here (it’s a private journal after all), so don’t be afraid to acknowledge your strengths!

  3. Design a restaurant

    If you were to open your own restaurant, what would it be like? Think about what sort of cuisine you would have and what your speciality dishes might be. Spend some time imagining what kind of atmosphere you’d like to create and how to decorate the place. Finally, give the restaurant a name to really bring it to life!

  4. Emotional logbook

    If you typically journal your daily life by writing about the events that take place each day, try to switch things up and instead spend some time focussing on how you’re feeling at various points throughout the day. Make a note of how you feel when you wake up. Are you excited? Anxious? Tired? Think about how your emotions shift and develop as the day progresses. Do they fluctuate rapidly or are they fairly stable? Are there particular thoughts, incidents, or triggers that lead you to feeling a particular way? Over time, this exercise can enable you to find patterns in your emotional wellbeing, allowing you to identify exactly when and how your moods are influenced for better or worse. Make this an enjoyable daily routine by using a nice fountain pen or some colouring pens.

  5. Discover your inner animal

    Time to enter the animal kingdom! Think about which animal you feel inextricably connected to. This could be an animal that you have always been drawn towards or an animal that somehow captivates you on a deep level. Think about why this particular animal calls to you. Perhaps the wise and solitary owl resonates with your thoughtful and reclusive side, or perhaps the innocent playfulness of the monkey speaks to your inner child. Whatever it may be, explore what the connection says about you. As a bonus exercise, you can see how many interesting facts you are able to find out about your particular animal, then write these up at the end of your journal entry.

  6. Describe your ideal job

    Reflect on what your dream job would be. Think beyond just the job title itself and instead consider all of the things the position would entail. Do you like the thought of working as part of a team or working alone? Would you like to follow a regular routine or for every day to be different? Would you rather be based in an office or working from home? Make sure to also think closely about what you want the position to ask of you. Perhaps you want to be challenged creatively, or maybe you would prefer the role to engage your problem-solving abilities. Perhaps it's important for you to occupy a position that utilizes your people skills, or maybe you’d feel better suited to a role that harnesses your scientific expertise. Whatever the job may be, reflect on what the fundamental purpose of it is and ask yourself why you would find the role so fulfilling and rewarding.

  7. Friend appreciation

    Picture one of your best friends and then try to come up with all the reasons that you like them. Think of all of their most admirable qualities and note these down. Try and recall some of the nicest things that they have done for you and some of your happiest memories together. Reflect on how you met and all the things that you have been through at each other's side. If you feel brave enough, you could even send this journal entry to your friend once you’re finished!

  8. Create your bucket list

    Even if you have no intention of dying any time soon, it’s never too early to have a bucket list! Try and think about at least ten things you want to experience or accomplish in your life before you kick the bucket.

  9. An email to your past self

    Draft an email to your former self. This can be 'the you' from two, five, ten, or twenty years ago - it doesn’t matter. But think long and hard about what you would like to say. Do you have any advice? Are there some words of reassurance that you’d like to offer? Is there anything you would have done differently? Make sure to let the former you know how the present you is doing before signing off!

  10. Goals for the week

    People often think of goals for the year or create daily checklists for tasks that they want to get done on that day, but it can be more effective to set clearly defined goals for the week. This time frame allows for greater and more varied accomplishments than can be achieved in a day, but more tangible and attainable goals than can be achieved in a year. Furthermore, with yearly goals there is the all-too-tempting tendency to postpone and forget, whilst with daily goals it is often easy to lack ambition or scope. A week, by contrast, permits you to think big whilst still maintaining focus and drive. Try and consider new things you might want to try, tasks that you’d like to complete, and personal goals you’d like to commit time to. With this, you’re all set for an interesting, meaningful, and productive week! A bonus tip is to use highlighter pens to colour code your goals by priority.

  11. Write a poem about your surroundings

    Unleash your inner poet! Try and write about whatever space you currently find yourself in. You could think about how the room or space makes you feel, or you could simply describe the physicality of the things around you. Even if you have never taken yourself for a poet, don’t be afraid to tap into your artistic side and get creative! This exercise is a great way of feeling more connected to the rooms and spaces that we occupy.

  12. Apocalypse preparation protocol

    Ever thought about how you would survive an apocalyptic scenario? Well, now’s the time to get that plan into writing! Brainstorm ideas about your top survival strategies and write them up as a master plan. Society as we know it may well be doomed, but if you draw up your post-apocalyptic strategy now, at least you’ll be prepared!

  13. Describe yourself in a colour

    If you were to be a colour, what colour would you be? More importantly, why would you be that colour? Think about all of the things that your colour symbolises and all of your traits that it represents. What is it about this colour in particular that speaks to you more than all the others?

  14. Draw out your family tree (artistic license accepted!)

    With yourself at the bottom, draw out your family tree, listing all the relatives you know of. Write their names, occupations, and any other interesting details you may have. At the point that your known family tree ends, start improvising and invent the rest. Perhaps your 4x-great-grandfather was a bear-wrestler in Bulgaria, or maybe your third cousin twice removed was a Franciscan nun with a penchant for tightrope walking.

  15. Aspirations and manifestations

    Spend some time thinking about the things you want out of life. These could be goals that you want to achieve, experiences you want to have, or milestones you want to reach. As you write them down, envision yourself attaining these things and acknowledge the fact that you have the power to bring them into reality. Writing aspirations down in such a way helps to make our dreams feel more real, tangible, and most importantly, attainable.

  16. Write about your earliest memory

    Cast your mind all the way back to your earliest memory of life. You might remember a whole scene in vivid detail, or perhaps you only remember a tiny fragment of a moment trapped in time; an image, a smell, or a sentence. Try your very best to relive that memory and capture it as precisely and intricately as you can. This is a great exercise to improve memory and increase one’s capacity for recollection.

  17. Create your own festival

    It’s time to bust out the wellies (or flip flops) and design your very own festival! Think about what sort of festival you would want it to be. Music? Art? Dance? Whereabouts would it take place? It could be a muddy romp through the fields of England or a meditative retreat on the beaches of Costa Rica. Imagine the kinds of artists or performers you’d like to book. Finally, draw up a schedule and a lineup then give your festival a name!

  18. Take a moment for gratitude

    Spend some time thinking about all the things in your life that you’re grateful for. This could be friends, family, possessions, experiences, or opportunities. Try to focus on the smallest details of your life as well as the big; the comfort of sleeping in a warm bed at night, the access to drinkable water, the ability to read and write. At the end, read through your journal entry and reflect on the abundance of good in your life. It’s important to take the time to be thankful for these things as it can be all too easy to overlook them or take them for granted.

  19. Design yourself as a fantasy character

    Picture yourself in a fantasy world. Think Lord of the Rings, Dungeons and Dragons, or your favourite video game. Now it’s time to roleplay! Design your own character to inhabit this world. Are you human, orc, elf, goblin, dwarf, hobbit, or something else entirely? Next, think about how you’d survive in this fantastical world. Would you be a stealthy archer who slinks about in the shadows? A valiant warrior who takes up arms and joins the royal guard? A wise and sombre mage who tackles his or her foes with fireballs and lightning? Don’t be afraid to run with this idea and really dig into the details of your fantastical other-life!

  20. Dramatise your dreams

    Have you ever had a dream with blockbuster movie potential? Well now's the time to turn that dream into (written) reality! Take one of your most interesting or surreal dreams and write it out as a short story or screenplay. If your dream lacks structure or resolution, as dreams so often do, then use your imagination to fill in the gaps. By the time you're finished, your story should have a coherent beginning, middle, and end. Now all that's left is to submit your masterpiece to Hollywood and wait for the millions to start rolling in.