7 Easy Ways to Generate Endless Journal Writing Prompts 8

WHETHER YOU’RE NEW TO JOURNALING or have been doing it for years, it’s beneficial to shake things up now and again — use a new technique or approach your writing from a new perspective.

A fun activity is to generate your own journal writing prompts. What makes journaling prompts different from creative writing prompts, although they overlap, is the personal nature of the prompts. When journaling, you are asking and answering questions of yourself: What does this statement, question, or situation mean to you?

Ways to generate writing prompts are endless. Here are seven:

  1. Browse the day’s headlines. You can accomplish this by looking at your newspaper or browsing online news resources (give yourself a time limit so you don’t get distracted). Search any section that appeals to you: politics, local news, lifestyle or entertainment. Even the comics can be a great source for writing ideas. Choose topics that make you think and reflect on your own life.
  2. Read blogs. Another online way to spur ideas is to read blogs on topics of interest to you — family, hobbies, etc. Freewrite about your reactions to different blogger’s ideas.  Make a list of personal questions you might ask if you were to interview the blog’s author, then answer those questions yourself. Not only is browsing blogs a great way to generate writing topics, but it’s also a good way to network and get to know other writers.
  3. Make lists. Get in the habit of making lists of issues, problems, joys, and desires for the future. These lists are wonderful sources of writing prompts. For example, let’s say your list of desires includes traveling through Europe. You can then make up several questions related to that desire: What country do I most want to visit, and why? What will I do first when I get there? Not only is this exercise fun, it can also help you clarify and understand your related motivations and emotions.
  4. Explore extremes. What are your greatest hopes and fears? When have you been most happy or sad? What are your best times of day? What’s your favorite thing to do for relaxation? You get the idea.
  5. Investigate values. Make a list of values and then ask questions about each of those values. For example, for the word “honesty,” you could ask: Do I believe it’s better to always be honest, or is it okay to tell “white lies”? Is it a lie to omit some part of the truth? For “loyalty” you could ask: What does loyalty mean to me? Does it change depending on what or who I am loyal to? Define “cheating” in a relationship. Then write about why you feel that way. And so on.
  6. Imagine the impossible. Think about things that might happen in a fantasy world or in a science fiction novel. What would you love to do if you could do the impossible? How would the world be different? Would you want a superpower? If so, what would it be and why would you want it? If not, why not? Would you want to meet a magical unicorn, if such existed? What fantasies from your childhood would you bring alive if you could?
  7.  Go online. Type “journal writing prompt” (with the quotation marks) into your favorite search engine. When I do so, I come up with more links and resources than I could ever hope to exhaust. The only danger with this method is that you will end up spending so much time clicking on links and looking at prompts that you will not find time to write! My advice? Give yourself a specific time limit — ten minutes, for example — copy as many writing prompts as appeal to you during that time, then quit. Select a prompt, and begin writing.

Finally, I challenge you to challenge yourself. Go deeper. No matter what your answer to any question, ask why or why not. Then, no matter what that next answer is, ask why again. Continue to drill down through each why and why not. Or, alternatively, ask how, what, when, or where, and continue to ask that one word again after each answer. You might be surprised by what you discover!

If generating your own prompts sounds like too much work, don’t worry! I have created and offer a plethora of journaling prompts on many topics on this blog and books on journaling, including Week by Week: A Year’s Worth of Journaling Prompts & Meditations — so you can always take your writing prompts with you.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

8 thoughts on “7 Easy Ways to Generate Endless Journal Writing Prompts

  • Linda

    Amber Lea, I have found your series on Journaling Through Relationships very valuable. Thank you for so clearly explaining, then going through prompts to write about each relationship. I am way behind on my writing about these, but I intend to get a grip on them soon. This article on generating writing prompts is also a valuable aid to getting stuck in to write the things that affect us or have affected us in the past.

    Your guides are great foci that will help us to come to terms with issues in our lives, whether with those we are close with or with issues in the world that affect us. Thank you for them. I am sure your book based on your journaling blog posts will be of great value to many.

  • Sara Etgen-Baker

    what creative and terrific ideas, Amber. There’s a well spring of mental triggers out there, and your ideas have opened my eyes to the possibilities around me. The idea is to be thinking and making connections with my world. Of course, I’ll need to slow down a bit; rather than being distracted by the world, I can utilize it to be more insightful. Thank you! Have a great week!

  • Barbara Toboni

    These are great tips Amber. And I especially like the questions you should ask yourself when you’re done, because I tend to give up too fast when I think I’m done with a writing prompt. I’ll put it away and never finish it.

  • Marlene Samuels

    What excellent advice, Amber! All are so accessible to most of us but too few of us think to consult them. But on another note, I love your website, have been a fan for what seems like an eternity when I first met you through Story Circle Network. Yours is one of my first, regular “go-to” sites and when I’m feeling stuck or uninspired, always gets me back on track. Thanks as always!