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Writer’s Block? Journal Prompt Ideas to Get your Creative Juices Flowing

Journaling is a great habit for mindfulness, stress relief, and emotional awareness. However, journaling for an extended period of time often leads to writer’s block, where one is unable to think of anything to write. Similarly, a common reason individuals often procrastinate journaling is because they cannot decide what to write. Follow along for some prompt ideas that will hopefully inspire you to continue journaling when things get tough – or to start journaling if you don’t already.

stream of consciousness

One of the easiest ways to journal is to simply write whatever you’re thinking. If you’re thinking, “I don’t know what to write because I’m really tired and feel drained today” – then write that. If you aren’t thinking of anything at all, write down what you observe. These things are part of your consciousness, even if you don’t realize it – many times, you are taking things in on a subconscious level but not on a conscious one. What’s going on outside? What do you hear? What do you see – is your space messy or clean? How could what’s going on around you be affecting your mood? Are you alone right now? Are you with a roommate, significant other, or sibling? Do you smell food coming from the kitchen? What did you eat for dinner? The list of questions goes on and on and on. That’s why journaling your stream of consciousness is so easy – your brain rarely stops thinking, processing, deliberating, deducing, contemplating, wandering, and judging. If you like to look back on your journal entries, journaling your stream of consciousness also sometimes reveals patterns. Do you see that every time you journal your thoughts you’re thinking about a certain thing? Noticing a certain thing? This may lead to some deeper conclusions about your life.

dream journaling

If you’re starting to get bored with your traditional journal prompts, dream journaling is a great way to shake things up. Keep a journal on your bedside table and write down everything you can remember from your dreams as soon as you wake up. Whether you think that your dreams are giving you signs about your real life or not, dream journaling (if nothing else) is a creative way to improve your storytelling skills and to reflect on the dreams you have each night. This tactic might not work for you if you seem to always wake up and immediately forget your dreams. However, if you find that you’re a vivid dreamer, you might enjoy writing on them and looking back on them days or weeks later. You never have the same dream twice – or do you?

progressive journaling

Progressive journaling can take many forms. One easy way to progressively journal is to title a page something like, “I feel happy”. Then, any time you feel happy, go back to that page and write down why. You could title another page, “I feel sad” and another one, “I feel stressed”. Each time you feel one of these emotions, go back to the page and add a short (or long, whatever you desire) explanation as to why you think you might feel that way. Progressive journaling can take many other forms, as well. The basic premise of it is just to start journaling about something on one day and update it progressively as time passes. Progressively journaling your goals is also quite helpful in achieving them. To do this, you could make a chart or illustration with your goal at the top, and a few empty boxes below it. Each time you take a step towards that goal, go back to the page and fill in one of the empty boxes with the step you took and a small explanation – you could include things like what motivated you to take that step, how hard/easy it was, and anything else you think is relevant.

write a letter to your future self

If you’re a sucker for nostalgia like me, writing a letter to your future self is an excellent option. You can rip it out of your journal and stick it in an envelope with “Open on (insert date)” written on it, or you can leave it in your journal and wait until you stumble on it on a random day. I have been writing letters to my future self forever – I actually wrote one when I graduated elementary school for myself to open when I graduated high school. You can write whatever you want in your letter, but make sure to include how your life is going at whatever moment you write it. Lots of times, even if we don’t think we will, we forget the small parts (especially the bad parts) of our pasts. Reminding yourself that times have been hard and that you’ve gotten through it is a great way to encourage yourself to keep pushing when things get challenging in the future. Also, remembering how life once was is interesting no matter how good or bad it was. Reminiscing on memories, past hobbies, challenges, friends, and big events is a great way to reflect on your past and on how far you’ve come.

open-ended prompts

Open-ended prompts are one of the most traditional ways of journaling. They are great ways to give your mind a starting point, but also to let it wander off of that starting point as you write. Below is a list of some of my favorite prompts. I recommend writing down the ones that you like most (and adding any more you can think of). Then, when you don’t know what to write about, read over your own list and answer the one that piques your interest the most.

  • What is a goal I feel will truly satisfy me if I attain it? What steps can I take to get closer to attaining that goal?
  • What am I most grateful for in life?
  • What am I usually doing when I feel happiest? Where am I? Who (if anyone) am I with?
  • What do I think has been my biggest accomplishment in life?
  • What is something about myself I love?
  • What is something about myself I wish I could change?
  • How is today going for me?
  • Who is my best friend? Why?
  • What is the lifestyle I someday hope to live?
  • Am I an optimist or a pessimist?
  • What’s on my bucket list?
Kaleigh Pfohl

Fordham '23

Kaleigh is an International Political Economy major at Fordham and loves writing, reading, and social activism!
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