Have you ever felt unsure of what things to write in a journal? Well, you won’t after today.
Journal writing is a life-changing habit. It helps you cope with stress, heal through difficulties, express your feelings, clarify your thoughts, set clear goals and intentions, and can have a positive effect on your mood. It’s that good.
Do you ever want to journal write but feel your brain switching to standby mode? You sit to write but then think: um…what am I supposed to write about, again? My feelings or something? Suddenly you remember you’ve got a gaztrillion things to do and there goes that idea.
I’ve got you. I’m going to share 48 ideas that’ll have you fired up to journal write.
You can choose one or many of the ideas, crack open a journal, notebook, piece of paper, and start reaping the massive emotional and life-enhancing benefits of journal writing.
As you choose one of these ideas, a few things may pop up in your mind. Let’s get those things out of the way.
Thing #1: How long should you journal write?
For as long as you want, or can.
I have a strong belief that journal writing doesn’t have to consume a large portion of your time (in fact, that’s kind of the entire point of this website).
If you have 10 minutes, great. Set a timer for 10 minutes and write.
Only have five minutes (yes, five)? Set a timer and write for five minutes.
It’ll all help you start building a journal writing habit.
Thing #2: How deep into your feelings do you need to go?
Some of these are lighthearted and will only take a sentence or two. Nothing is wrong with that. In fact, I’m a believer in tiny journaling habits. Especially if you haven’t maintained a journaling/writing habit for a long period of time.
You know your limits and emotional triggers. Somethings may be uncomfortable, but you know deep down you need to bring them to the surface and start expressing them.
You may also have deep emotional wounds that you may need a professional to help you deal with. You know your life. Choose appropriately.
Thing #3: When you want to write something in your journal about someone else but are afraid to put it on paper
Concerned your journal will be read by someone else, you can always find a safe place or write and tear pages out and destroy them. There are no rules here. It’s the actual writing down that’s beneficial.
There’s no journaling standard. You set the standard for your journal (and your life).
Here are 48 ideas for things to write in a journal
These journal prompts are also available in the free resource library in a printable for you to download and keep handy for when you’re ready to journal. Sign up in the black and gold box below to get access to the library.
Things to write in a journal at the beginning of the day
1. What are your plans for the day?
We’re starting simple. Not even much thought needed here. Just write about your day ahead. This one can be a nice warm-up. You can choose to write a few other ideas to write after this one.
2. What does your ideal day look like?
Imagine your ideal day? How does it start? What do you do? Where are you? Who are you with? What makes it so ideal?
3. Is there anything you could do to get closer to that ideal day?
What steps can you take? Write them out.
Things to write in a journal at the end of the day
4. What one thing (or person) made you happy today?
Write about something that happened today that made you smile and feel happy
5. What made you laugh?
Think of something that made you laugh. Not just chuckle, but that deep belly-crying-tears laugh. Can’t think of anything? Quick youtube your favorite comedian or clips of a show you love. (then write a quick journal entry about it, of course). Laughter is healing.
6. Something unexpected that happened to you
Think of something unexpected that happened. This can be good or bad. In fact, try to think of something good (the mind tends to dwell on the bad. This is normal).
7. How about something you did/or said that was unexpected or out of character
Sometimes we surprise ourselves and say or do things that are unlike us. Did you have one of those moments today or recently? Write about it.
8. Reflect on the day’s accomplishments.
What did you get done? Big and small, it all matters.
9. What are your plans for tomorrow
The end of the day is the perfect time to set plans for tomorrow. You can first reflect on how things went today, what you need to get to tomorrow, and what – if anything – you need to do differently.
By doing this, you start tomorrow off on the right foot, already knowing your top priorities and approach.
Things to write in a journal to help you reflect, de-stress, and grow
10. Reflect on the past week or month
What went well, not so well? What was unexpected? What, if anything, will you do differently going forward?
11. What keeps recurring (over the months/years in your life)?
If it’s something you want to stop occurring, what do you need to do break the cycle?
12. Reflect on a favorite character from a show, book, or movie.
Have fun with this one. We usually get so bogged down with everyday tasks and events, we rarely take time to remember and savor things like our favorite characters. What do you love about them? Why are they so endearing, relatable?
13. Reflect on a favorite quote, funny or inspirational
Can’t think of one? Here you go. There are so many to choose from on that site. Or just Google for inspiration.
Things to write in a journal that remind you of what you’re grateful for
14. Write a gratitude list
Make a list of everything you feel grateful for. Try not to take the pen from the page, just write. Big things and small things. Nothing is trivial. Everything matters.
15. Just one thing.
Write about one thing, in particular, you’re grateful for. Just one. Go deep with this if you have time. What, specifically, about this thing (or person) makes you feel so grateful for having them?
Journal writing your feelings
16. How are you feeling right now?
Write about how you feel right at this very moment. What feelings are floating around in your head (and in your body)? Often we internalize feelings in our bodies, such as nervousness and tension in our lower back and neck.
17. How do you want to feel?
Do you want to feel an emotion other than what you’re feeling? What is that emotion? (example: joy, trust).
Why do you think you’re not feeling that way? Some people say emotions are a choice. Do you agree with that statement? Write about whether you agree or not.
And if you agree that emotions are a choice, can you make a choice to feel differently? How would you do that? What could you focus on to feel differently?
Things to write in a journal to invite more love into your life
This is about observing, appreciating and cultivating more love in your life. Remember there are many forms of love. From being in romantic love to familial love. And all the other forms of love.
For example, I love early-morning, long walks. It’s something I love, and I want more love in my life, so I often write about my walks and what I enjoy about them and how totally elated I feel on them.
18. A tiny thing you love
Think of something that may seem small to someone else, but you absolutely love.
19. What’s something big that you love?
What’s a big, significant thing in your life that you love? This may be a person, job, pet, or even a material object.
20. Write about your family
Write about your family, immediate or extended – or both.
21. Your pet
Write about your pet (current or past) If you have multiple pets, pick one. You can write about how they make you feel, how you felt when you first got them, or whatever comes to mind.
Things to write in a journal for planning
A journal is a great place to plan projects, hold yourself accountable, and track progress.
22. What’s your next big project?
What project have you been thinking to start? Write about it. Why does it matter? What do you need to do to get started? What’s your very next step?
What is the very 1st step you need to take to move forward on that thing you’ve been procrastinating? Got many things? Pick one.
23. What one goal can you set to achieve in the next 3 months that will radically improve your life?
Things to write in a journal for mindfulness
Mindfulness is about being fully present in the now. It’s hard to do that when your mind is bogged down with worry and things to do and memories you keep reliving.
24. Brain dump
What are ‘all the things you need to do’ that are floating around in your head? Writing this out will help you to then prioritize what needs to be done.
It also feels like a big relief when you clear some brain space by writing it all down.
25. What do you feel unsure about?
Chances are there’s something (or many things) you feel unsure about. Is it a decision you need to make, perhaps? Write it out.
26. Is there something you can do to become less unsure about this (#27)?
Even writing about something can bring clarity.
27. What recurring thoughts do you need to let go of?
Write about the thoughts that keep bubbling up. Are they more negative and worrisome than positive or even neutral? Can you replace those thoughts with others? How? What can you focus on (such as things you’re grateful for) when those recurring thoughts keep cropping up.
28. What one thing can you let go of tomorrow?
In the spirit of Mari Kondo, there are always things to let go of and declutter from your life. Take a few moments to write about things you know you’re holding onto but need to release from your life. Decluttering – physically and emotionally – feels empowering.
29. Is there someone you want to apologize to but have been holding back?
What did you do or say to them that warrants an apology? Dig deep with this one if you need to. We’ve all done and said things we shouldn’t have. Writing about it can help you first become more aware and second start forgiving yourself and then taking steps to apologize.
30. What are you most afraid of right now?
This can be something big or small. What are your biggest fears?
31. Out of those fears (#30), if one did come true, what’s the worst that can happen?
This isn’t an easy thing to write about but can be so empowering. Think through the fear you have and write what would happen if it came true. Keep thinking ‘and then what’ over and over and write it out.
By writing about it, you gain some control over the fear and may even realize that the fear is not as daunting as you thought. Whatever happened you’d eventually get through it.
Journal writing meets letter writing
Here are a few journal writing ideas that involve writing a letter. You can keep this letter to yourself or mail it. Your choice. Do what feels right for you.
32. Write a letter to someone you’ve been meaning to communicate with
You know that person you’ve been meaning to communicate with but just haven’t gotten around to? Write them a letter.
33. Write a letter to someone you miss
Missing someone who is no longer in your life (or physical space)? Write to them. Let them know how much you’re missing them. This can be especially healing if this is someone who has passed away but is still in your heart.
34. Write a letter to someone you are grateful for
In my tiny book, Become a Giver, I explain how writing a gratitude letter can uplift your mood and also the mood of the receiver.
35. Write about someone you admire
Who do you admire? And why? Write them a letter telling them how and why you admire them so much.
Journal writing as a tool in the process of forgiveness
Forgiving others is one of the most powerful things we can do in life. It frees up emotional energy and helps heal open wounds.
36. Who do you need to forgive?
Maybe you’re not quite ready to tell them you forgive them. Or maybe you can’t tell them for another reason. But you can start writing about it.
37. Can you write a letter to that person (see #36)?
38. What do you need to forgive yourself for?
Self-forgiveness is of even higher priority than forgiving others. We hold judgment and grudges against ourselves from big things to the tiniest of things. And all of them cause us to feel lower about ourselves and keep telling ourselves stories that are untrue.
What we did (or didn’t do) in the past is no reflection on what we can do right now and tomorrow and the day after….
Write about what you need to forgive yourself for. Take as much time as needed with this come back to it multiple times if needed. It’s that important.
Journal writing for cultivating more self-love
39. Reflect on what you’re good at
Everyone has a zone of genius (yes, including you!). You may not instantly think of things, but take a moment to call to mind at least 3 things you do well. It could be something instantly recognizable like running triathlons or baking up a mean cherry pie or organizing the house? There are definitely at least three things you are stellar at doing. Write about them, why you love doing each, how you got started, how they make you feel, etc.
The harder this exercise is, the more times you should do it. Recognizing areas in your life where you excel should always be top of mind and easy to think of.
Give yourself permission to remind yourself of these things…often!
40. What feature/characteristic of yourself do you most appreciate?
And why do you appreciate these things about yourself (physical and non-physical)?
41. In which way can you be kinder to yourself?
Especially think about the way you talk to yourself. Do you call yourself mean names when you make a mistake or forget something, for example? Do you engage in habits you know are hurting you mentally, physically, or otherwise?
42. What one thing do you need to stop beating yourself up about?
43. What have you been through in the last few years that you’re most proud of pulling through?
Thinking and writing about these things help build confidence as things you’re proud of are reminders of your strength and resilience.
44. Something you’d like to start doing
This could be a habit or a project.
45. Maybe a habit you’d like to start but have been procrastinating about? Write about it and write about what you need to do to get started.
46. Something you’d like to stop doing
This could even be something you need to take a break from (Facebook, for example. Just saying #guilty).
47. What tiny thing(s) bring you joy?
Write about it, including how you can spend more quality moments appreciating it.
48. What big thing(s) bring you joy?
Ready to get started?
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You can use any notebook you already have.
If you’re looking for options, here are a few of my favorites:
Whether you use a notebook, loose-leaf paper, or journal cards, building a consistent journal habit can be life-changing.
Let me know how it goes. You can always come back to this site for more inspiration and prompts as needed.
All of the journal prompts above (plus more) are also available in the free resource library in a printable for you to download and keep handy for when you’re ready to journal. Sign up in the black and gold box below to get access to the library.
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