A very real obstacle for someone who keeps a journal is writer’s block. Whether writing your journal with pen and paper or using a smartphone app, there’s really no use when your brain just can’t come up with anything good enough.
In my experience, the simplest and most effective solution is to use journal prompts.
What Are Journal Prompts?
Journal prompts are a simple statement designed to inspire you or offer you an idea of what to write about. It doesn’t matter how much you enjoy writing, or how frequently you write, sometimes you just don’t know how to begin writing. Journal prompts are also great for helping beginner writers get into journal writing.
There are only 2 steps in this whole process:
1. Using journal prompts to look within.
2. Letting all your hidden thoughts and feelings flow out.
Step 1: Using The Power Of Introspection
A list of journal prompts might seem too clinical or lame to read through. But sometimes, all it takes is a little forceful nudge towards certain memories or emotions.
Not all ideas are equal, but there will definitely be a gem of a journal prompt that inspires you in just the right way and gets your creative juices flowing. These often require you to look within and dig deep, because it’s about things you haven’t considered before. This introspection is the core of what a prompt is supposed to bring out of a journal writer.
Introspection takes you deep into an idea or train of thought. A sign that this is unconsciously happening is when you will feel uncomfortable or concerned thinking about something. A prompt has the potential to strike a chord in you, and trigger an outburst of unexpected ideas and, later, concrete writing.
Step 2: Setting The Muse Free
There will be specific things that you’ll find more inspiring or relatable enough to warrant a journal entry. Once you’ve completed the first step and uncovered something deep within that a prompt made you consider, it’s all a matter of facing the challenge that it presents.
For many, it works to write things down in bullet points. For example, there may be a specific childhood memory you want to write about. Questions you can ask yourself include: How did it make you feel? What do you think about it now, years later? What, if anything, do you want to do about it?
As cringe-making, painful or unpleasant things can be when looking back, getting through this barrier is essential to unlocking things that can make for a meaningful journal entry. Getting yourself to face these thoughts and feelings that were hidden away is the difficult yet most important step.
After you’ve got the ideas down on paper, then you can edit and rewrite things. Just remember – journal prompts are meant to get these things out of you in the first place, so there should be an attempt not to hold back!
The Benefits Of Journal Prompt Types
Now that we’ve covered how to use prompts for your journal, let’s talk about some popular examples that have proven effective for many journal writers out there.
Journal Prompts About The Past
Looking back is always a good source of deep thought. It can get scary, yes, but facing the reality of things that have happened will always yield something of substance. An example is writing a letter to your past self, which forces you to look at a trajectory from point A to point B.
Another often used one is a recollection from childhood. Early memories can spur deep, long-forgotten emotions. An even heavier topic would be lost connections, regrets, and things you wish you’d have done differently.
Perhaps this could be extended to what-ifs, a creative thought exercise that requires you to take yourself to a path sprouting from a different life choice. Simply put, go back to the turning points that make you who you are today – they will surely spark something within.
Journal Prompts About Yourself
These are very straightforward. You can write about things that make you feel happy, sad, or scared, and explore why this is so. Maybe, there’s a problem that needs solving, which will take a load off when expressed.
Another form this can take is delving into your feelings for someone, whether this is love, regret, anger, or sympathy. This prompt is usually effective if you haven’t communicated much with the person in question. It provides an outlet for your pent-up emotions.
Journal Prompts About The Future
The future is a great source of introspection as well, because of the exercise of foresight. Where do you want to be 10 years from now? What are the ways in which you can improve your life? Which places would you like to go to someday?
This is arguably the most hopeful set of prompts due to your ability to shape the future based on how you want it. A common prompt about the future is writing letters to children or grandchildren. It allows you to catalogue your dreams for people you care about, even if they’re still far, far away.
Journal Prompts About The Present
Finally, there’s the now. This will challenge your descriptive abilities, as you can talk about your family, friends, job, pets, and home. The more detailed, the better. You will have to take stock of what you have currently and what you feel about these things.
If you want to stay grounded and look around you, these are the prompts that will inspire you the most. In fact, you can even attach pictures to your journal or blog to keep things as descriptive and immersive as possible. Recreate your world and your perspective.
And To Conclude…
Journals are all about what you think and how you see things, so anything under the sun should pass as a journal prompt, as long as it’s from your own perspective.
The whole idea is to try. Not everything sparks a fire within you because some thoughts, feelings, and memories will affect more than others. But once you do find something that strikes a chord, facing it – whatever it is – can lead you to release thoughts, feelings and concerns that can set you free to grow and develop.