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Journaling is a path towards self-discovery, self-care, and stress relief. It can be tough to get started, though. What do you even write about? How many times have you grabbed a journal and stared at an empty page, unable to think of anything to write? This is where journal prompts can come in handy.
What Do I Need to Start Journaling?
We will get to the prompts below, but first, let’s get started with journaling by making sure you have everything that you need.
At a very minimum, all you need to start journaling is pen and paper. However, it helps to have more than that. Get a personal journal that speaks to you – that makes you want to start writing in it. The right journal can motivate you to open its pages and start brainstorming ideas. Check out our post on the best journals and planners to find your perfect journal – you’d be surprised at how many options there are!
Next, you might need a list of prompts. Prompts can give you a ton of journaling ideas to help you get started. They can be story starters, questions, statements designed to dive deep into how you feel about things, and prompts designed to help you reflect on your thoughts and feelings.
Finally, you need to motivation to get to know yourself. You need to want to journal, whether it be through freewriting or with the help of prompts. If this describes you, but you aren’t sure how to get started – our prompts can help.
Although not required, some people (myself included) find that journaling is easier with pretty, colorful pens. You can write ideas in one color, jot notes down in the margins with another, and answer your prompts in a third. This explosion of color can really take journaling to the next level.
What Do Journal Prompts Do?
Journal prompts can give us a head start when writing our journal entries. They give us something to write about when we struggle to come up with ideas of our own. How often have you opened your notebook and stared at a blank page, waiting for inspiration that never comes? The prompts provide that tiny spark of inspiration to get you started. It’s far easier to start writing when you have a question to answer than it is to come up with everything on your own.
But journaling prompts have another benefit as well. Many are designed with a specific purpose in mind, to help you learn and grow in a variety of ways. There are journal prompts made specifically to help you with self-care and other prompts designed to help you on your journey of self-discovery. Some, like our Money Dreams Journal Prompts available on Etsy, are specifically designed to help guide you to a certain goal and to inspire you to achieve that goal.
What Are Some Good Journaling Prompts?
Not all journal prompts are created equally, but they also don’t all serve the same purpose. Saying a journal prompt is “good” is subjective, and it depends on your journaling goals.
Who really did put the bop in the bop-chu-bop-chua and why did he do that?
If you are journaling for fun, you might be happy with a silly prompt – like “Who really did put the bop in the bop-chu-bop-chu-a and why did he do that”? or “What does your favorite food sound like?” These prompts are a little quirky and often designed to get you to start thinking about yourself and your five senses in a way you wouldn’t normally expect. They are also a bit creative, so you can add a flair of fiction to your journal pages if you so choose.
What does your favorite food sound like?
If you love them and want more like them, check out our Fun & Quirky Journal Prompts on Etsy. We have 75 fun and unique journaling prompts just like these (in fact – those two are included!) available for instant download for just three bucks.
Journal Prompts for Self-Discovery
Folks who are journaling for self-discovery would probably scoff at such a prompt. They might be more interested in a prompt like, “Think back to when you were a child, around 8 or 9 years of age. What did you want to be when you grew up? Would your younger self be proud of what you decided to do instead”?
“Think back to when you were a child, around 8 or 9 years of age. What did you want to be when you grew up? Would your younger self be proud of what you decided to do instead”?
This type of prompt makes you think about your hopes and dreams and how they may have changed over time. It might be helpful for someone stuck in a rut and unsure of what to do with their lives. Or it might help someone realize that the decisions they made throughout life were actually the right decisions. It’s designed to make you think about yourself.
How Do I Understand Myself in a Journal?
A lot of people journal for self-discovery. Writing all of your thoughts and feelings out can help you better understand them, and reviewing old posts can help you identify patterns in thought and behavior. These two things can give you a much better understanding of yourself, how you think, and what your aspirations are.
You can also learn about yourself by asking yourself targeted questions and responding as truthfully and openly as you can. It can be hard to come up with the questions on your own.
This is where journal prompts come in handy. Journal prompts for self-discovery are premade questions that you are supposed to answer in your journal. Often, prompts come in sets of about 30 because that’s a full month of journaling if you answer one prompt a day.
Self-Discovery Journal Prompt Samples
We have an epic set of 75 self-discovery journaling prompts available on our Etsy store for only $2.99. These 75 prompts are designed to get you thinking about your journey so far, where you are and where you came from, and how you might want to move forward. It includes some traditional prompts, like “what is your favorite book and why?” which is designed to make you think about your likes and dislikes and your emotional reactions to things that happen in books. Understanding why your favorite book is your favorite can help you learn a lot about yourself.
What is your favorite book and why?
For example, if your favorite book is a Victorian romance like Pride & Prejudice or Jane Eyre, you might be a hopeless romantic. Maybe you love the idea of true love and fighting for your soul mate. Perhaps you identify with the strong-willed nature of the characters.
If your favorite book is in the horror genre, you might enjoy thrills. Or maybe you love the way the characters fought and overcame whatever evil was haunting them. Perhaps you just enjoy the macabre.
There could be a plethora of reasons why your favorite book is your favorite. Considering why it’s at the top of your list can teach you a lot about yourself.
The self-discovery journal prompt package also includes prompts that you might not normally see in a prompt package, like “describe the first birthday you remember.” On its surface, this doesn’t seem like a self-discovery journal prompt. But if you dig deep into yourself, you will start to write down feelings and memories long forgotten.
“Describe the first birthday you remember”
The first birthday I remember is my 7th birthday. I remember walking down the aisles of the Jewel and falling in love with a Spuds McKenzie stuffed animal. My brother had one already, and I was a bit jealous, so my dad got me this one. I still have it to this day, over 30 years later, and sleep with it every night. This memory stirs feelings of nostalgia, love, and understanding about my relationship with my family. I’m sure your memories of your earliest birthdays will do the same for you.
Journal Prompts for Beginners
Regardless of where you are in your journaling journey, journal prompts can help. Beginners should look for prompts that will help them achieve their journaling goals – whether it be just to start (which, if that’s the case, I recommend my quirky and fun pack) or for self-discover (clearly, you need the introspection pack).
But as a beginner, you may not know what you want, and you might want to see all of the options available. I have an Ultimate Super Bundle of journaling prompts available – it includes all the prompts in my other three sets (money dreams, quirky and fun, and introspective) plus 25 bonus prompts. These prompts are inspirational, fun, introspective, and sometimes a little silly but are designed to help anyone with their journaling needs.
Journal Prompts Versus Creative Writing Prompts
There are many different types of writing prompts available to you, and each has its place. But you want to make sure you’re getting exactly what you want out of a writing prompt, especially before purchasing one.
Both journal prompts and creative writing prompts offer you writing ideas, but they are vastly different in subject matter. Creative writing exercises are designed to give ideas for fiction writing or to improve your writing skills. These types of prompts are specific to the craft of writing and help aspiring writers figure out what to write about. These creative writing ideas can be beneficial to students of writing. They can give you the inspiration to write a story, help you practice writing, and even help you overcome writer’s block.
Journal writing prompts, on the other hand, are designed to help you write about yourself. Journal writing is a journey of self-expression, gratitude, and a deep dive into your very essence. Usually, your journal entry is for your eyes only. You aren’t writing stories to be shared with the world; you’re discovering yourself.
Different Ways to Journal
Not all journals need prompts. You may have a travel journal that you use to make a list of all the places you want to go to or an art journal filled with doodling and poems. Maybe you’re listing story ideas, keeping track of your meals with a food journal, or even using your journal as a diary to share your deepest secrets with. You may even just want a gratitude journal to list all the things you’re thankful for each year. I even keep a journal for blogging ideas. If any of these describes you, you may not need prompts. And that’s okay—everyone journals in their own ways.
But it’s also okay to use prompts to get your creative juices flowing. Maybe you’re ready to dive in and write something amazing but just need a tad of inspiration. This is where journal prompts can help.
Grab our Ultimate Super Bundle of journal prompts and keep on writing. Starting with just ten minutes a day can help you make it a habit. With 250 prompts, you have nearly a full year of source material. So grab your diaries and journals, grab the prompts, and get to writing!
30 Free Journal Prompts
I get it. You probably aren’t sold on purchasing journal prompts, especially when you can find free ones everywhere. So here’s a sample of 30 journal prompts. Although you may find similar prompts in my Etsy offerings, none is exactly the same.
Hopefully, these are enough to get you started on your journaling adventure – but if you love them and want more, check out my shop!
Free Journal Prompts
- You get to have a council of 4 people – living or dead – that help you make decisions. Which four people do you choose and why?
- What is money? Define exactly what it is and what that means for your life.
- How would you describe your relationship with your best friend?
- If you could instantly be transported into any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
- If you have four ingredients. You can only eat variations and combinations of those four things for the rest of your life. Which four things do you choose? Why do you choose each item, and what do you make?
- Write a letter to your next boss telling them why they should hire you and pay you more than the job listing offers.
- What is the most satisfying sound in the world? Why?
- What is your favorite game that you played as a child?
- If you could have a 10-minute conversation with anyone who ever existed, who would you choose?
- What is one thing about the way the world works that you wish you could understand better?
- If you could make your pet understand one thing, what would it be?
- What does your favorite scent taste like?
- What causes would you be willing to sacrifice your life for?
- How are you feeling today? What do you need to get off of your chest?
- What is your favorite part of your body? Describe what you like about it.
- If you could redo the day, what would you do differently?
- Which fictional character do you relate to the most? What are their flaws? Do you have similar flaws?
- If you could go back in time and observe one historical event, which one would it be and why?
- You have the opportunity to ask an all-knowing being one question. What do you ask? What do you think it’s answer would be?
- Describe an item that you wish someone would invent. How would it improve your life?
- What are sweet dreams made of?
- What is the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you? How did you get through it?
- Write a poem about your favorite childhood memory
- You can go back in time to any point in your life and change just one thing. What would you change?
- What is your inner critic trying to tell you? Is it right or wrong? How can you silence it?
- Pretend that you are a famous person. What are you famous for?
- Imagine that you are an alien sent to earth to study humanity. What is the weirdest thing you discover?
- Think about the best vacation you’ve ever been on. What made it so fantastic?
- Write an essay about a cause that you are passionate about. Why is this cause so meaningful?
- What is the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you? Did you find it funny at the time?
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.