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Have you ever struggled to come up with ideas for what to write in your journal?
As a writer, aside from enjoying the many benefits of journaling for my mental well-being, I find that keeping a daily journal is a great way to organize my thoughts, think of great ideas, and learn to live in the present moment.
Unfortunately, it's not easy to think of great topics that you can write about. That's why we have created this list of 59 journaling ideas. In theory, each of these prompts will help spark your creativity and will give you hours of content that you can add to your daily journal.
Let's get to it…
1. Inspirational Quotes
Everyone has something that inspires them to do their best in life. Quotes that inspire you do not have to come from a famous individual. They can simply be something that motivates you to do your best. Write about the quote and the deeper meaning that it holds in your life. If you still are at a loss as to where to begin, try out these inspirational quotes.
2. Reflect on a Quote
Quotes are great journal prompts, so if you do not necessarily want to write “inspirational” quotes in your daily journal, you can write about nearly any quote at all. It may not pertain to your life at all, but you can still reflect on the meaning that originated behind the phrase. These quotes can add wisdom to your life or simply be a funny saying that you enjoy.
3. Answer a Question
If you do not feel like collecting quotes, then answering questions can work as well. (Here's 100 journaling questions and prompts.) Questions often arise in life that you do not really think about much, but you can write them down on a piece of paper and place them in a container for a rainy day. When you run out of ideas, randomly select one of the questions to write about. Or if you're really stuck, you can use some of 371 deep questions that we detail in this post.
4. Self Care
If you are at a loss for what to write in a daily journal, then try to start naming some of the goals that you have for your life. To help you maintain this path, you can write about some self care ideas you want to try.
Writing about self care can sometimes have partial effect of making you feel better. For example, if you are going to have a manicure this coming weekend, and you decide to write about how that makes you feel, the thought of the upcoming event can actually serve to make you feel a bit happier.
Start journaling with these self-care journal ideas and templates to help you take care of yourself better.
5. Life Milestones
Some goals that you want to achieve could be small—like going to get groceries before Friday—while others could be actual milestones in your life. If you have a big goal that you want to focus on, like graduating from medical school, getting married, having your first child, or buying your first home, try writing about it in detail.
6. Specific Events
These events are not typically something that happened to you. Rather, they are world events that should never be forgotten. Journal prompts that fit into this category could be things like the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11, the state of current politics, or even the most interesting news item that happened each day. Throughout history, there are a lot of events that you could write about — the key is to write down these events in your journal.
7. Captured Moments
If you have already reached major milestones in your life, you can write journal ideas about those events. It could be a detailed recollection of your wedding day, the feeling you had when your child was born, your experience at a rally that you attended, or another unforgettable event. You can also write about specific events in the lives of others. If you get stuck, you can plan fun activities with your kids (here are 88 ideas) or do something new when you're bored (and here are 151 ideas for that.)
8. Describe Challenges
We all face challenges in our lives on a daily basis. If you encountered a struggle today that was difficult for you, your daily journal is the perfect place to write it down. Describe the struggle that you had to face in detail. What happened? How did you feel? Were you able to meet and overcome the challenge that crossed your path?
Here's a “challenge” idea: Start a 30-Day Journaling Challenge!
9. Define Solutions to Challenges
Not all challenges are easy to overcome, so if you find yourself in a situation that you do not know how to overcome, write about possible solutions in your daily journal. Think about the specific actions that you can take to find the solution. Contemplate the situation to find more than one option. You can also write about ways that the situation could have been prevented in the first place.
10. Write Down Prayers
If you don't know what to write in a journal, then you can start by reaching out to your spiritual side for ideas. Many of us pray on a daily basis, so instead of simply saying them out loud, write down your thoughts as well. This can be a way to increase your spiritual activity. It will help you strengthen your resolve. These prayers can focus on any aspect of your spiritual life, from gratitude to praise and worship. To get started, here are 49 positive prayers you can recite each morning.
11. Express Gratitude
Sometimes we forget to show our gratitude for the good things in our lives. Each night, take the time to write about a few things that occurred during the day that you are grateful for. If you start writing down your gratitude, you will most likely begin showing how grateful you are, which can be an inspirational form of personal development.
Gratitude is such a strong thing to write about you may want to consider having a journal specifically for expressing gratitude. It may sound odd, but writing about how you appreciate others, even if you never show anyone, actually makes you feel a lot better about yourself. (For more on this concept, check out this post where we review the six best gratitude journals.)
12. Meditate before Journaling
When you are having a hard time deciding what to write in a journal, you most likely have a mind that is full of other things going on in your life. If your focus is on a meeting that you are having tomorrow, then how can you think of a fresh topic to write about?
Meditating can clear your mind and get rid of all of the mental clutter that is holding you back.
13. Describe a Memory
Our memories are not perfect, so if you want to remember something specific, it could be advantageous to write it down in your journal. Using this journal prompt does not need to create long entries, but it can be a list of things that you look back on years from now with fondness.
14. Overcoming Fears
Your greatest fears are often in the back of your mind. Figuring out how to overcome these fears is only going to help you in life, but when you think of these fears as your own, the process is rather difficult.
Imagine that a friend has an irrational fear of something like spiders or riding high rides at an amusement park. How would you help them to overcome these fears? What would you say to them? If you are unsure where to begin, here are some of the top fears.
15. Recall your Dreams
We all dream at night—the problem is remembering what we dream about. If you write down your dreams as soon as you wake up, then you will be able to take a deeper look into them to see if there is a deeper meaning. Be sure to record the date of the dream so that if you look at it years from now, you can remember when you were having it.
16. Write a Time Capsule Entry
Make your daily journal entry about something that is happening in the news. It could be the Olympics, the swearing in of a new president, or a medical breakthrough for cancer patients.
Write down your thoughts about the event. Describe how the country reacted during that period of time, and include news clippings that will be of interest in the future. Wait for 20 years to read the entry again—you will be amazed at the details that you included.
17. Track the Food You Eat
When you are attempting to lose weight, nothing is more helpful than a food journal. It helps you monitor the food you eat. You can also use this journal prompt to describe the location that you are eating at, the presentation of the food, and how well you enjoyed it. To get started, we recommend checking out this food journal on Amazon.
18. Keep a Travel Journal
I enjoy traveling, so one thing that I find comforting to write about is my experiences in different locations around the world. Using this journal prompt is perfect because it helps me remember the precious details of my trips that could easily be forgotten.
You can write about the food you ate, the excursions that you experienced, and even some of the people that you met. If you have not had the chance to travel much, write about places that you would like to visit. When you are finally able to go, you can compare your experience with what you wrote.
One resource that can “spark” your inspiration for future trips is this article on 553 bucket list ideas.
19. Write as a Family
If you cannot think of a new topic to write about in your journal, try writing an entry as a family so that you can expand on the thoughts of each other. Each member of your family can write in the journal. You can write about a fun day that you all spent together, or create a journal prompt. Sharing a journal will allow you to understand each other's thoughts and thinking patterns.
20. Write about Dislikes
Not all writing is enjoyable, so if you are struggling to find a topic, start thinking about ideas that you do not particularly want to write about. If you cannot think of something better, then you still have a topic. It may not be ideal, but it will give you a place to start
21. Thoughtless Morning Entries
When you first wake up, your mind is not bogged down with the thoughts of the day, so this is the best time to just let your creativity flow. Try to write at least three pages of content without thinking much about what you are writing. You can even use the “morning pages” concept recommended by Julia Cameron.
22. Use Monthly Themes
If you cannot come up with a specific idea, think about themes that are present during each month of the year. In January, you can write about new beginnings. In February, love is always in the air and you can write about your relationship goals. If you are having problems thinking of themes, then check out this list to help you get started.
23. Write a Letter
This is a great way to talk to someone that you do not get to see that often. You can write to someone who has passed away, someone who lives far away from you, or even someone who lives in your home. Maybe you have something to say to an individual, but you do not want to say it out loud. Writing a letter to them will help you organize your thoughts and sort your feelings before you actually speak to them.
24. Write to an Imaginary Friend
In life, you sometimes need to tell others about your problems. Not everyone is comfortable expressing themselves, so writing a letter that is not meant for anyone to read is a way to come to terms with your feelings. It allows you to talk to someone and organize your thoughts without being judged.
25. Write about the Lessons of a Book
Most of the literature that you read has an obvious plot as well as a deeper lesson that is hidden in the pages. Any time you complete a new book, write about the lessons in it. You can even include some of your favorite quotes.
And if you don't know “what” to read, we have compiled a massive collection of 250+ non-fiction books that you can check out, organized by topic.
26. Do a Writing Sprint
Set your timer for five minutes and write until the time expires. It does not matter what you are writing about, simply make sure that your pencil is always moving. This is a great way to get your thoughts down on paper—and if your time is limited, it only requires five minutes. Check out this list of morning journal prompts to get you started.
27. Write One Sentence Each Day
Writing a lot can be discouraging for some, so if that sounds like you, try to start by writing one sentence a day in your daily journal. It will not take a lot of effort or time, but if the topic is something that interests you, you may even write more without realizing it.
28. Write Down Affirmations
If you are unsure of what to write in your journal, write down an affirmation that you believe in, and continue writing it until you fill up a specific number of pages. Try to fill up three pages. If you think of something else to write about before then, you can fill the rest of the space with that topic. To get started, here are 1,132 positive affirmations.
Want to create a daily routine filled with quiet, self-reflection?If so, check out Effortless Journaling — How to Start a Journal, Make It a Habit, and Find Endless Writing Topics.With this book, you can make the journaling habit a part of your daily routine.
29. Create Lists
One of my favorite things to do when I am drawing a blank for new journaling ideas is to create a list of things that I enjoy. This could be a list of movies, your favorite television shows, things that you need to pack for your vacation, or even a grocery list that you need to get in order to make some of your favorite foods. Check out this blog post what online tool you can use to do this.
30. Create a Mind Map
If you have been brainstorming for a big project that you are taking on, then drawing out a mind map (a popular brainstorming technique) could help you get your ideas flowing. It will help you to see the bigger picture more clearly instead of focusing on a small part of the task at hand.
31. Create Thought Clusters
Start with one idea in the center of your page and expand from that single thought. Write down anything that comes to mind. It may seem disorganized, but it will tell a story when the thought process is complete. While it may seem like you are adding extra steps to your journaling, it actually helps you decide what to write about.
32. Design a Character Sketch
I don't mean to draw a portrait of yourself, though you can if you like. I simply mean creating a portrait in writing. Bring yourself or another individual to life by describing their personality, their emotional state, and their style in a way that expresses character. You can even describe an imaginary individual if you prefer.
33. Be Creative
If you cannot figure out what to write in a daily journal, then you can simply make a creative entry of another type. Perhaps you like to draw. You can stencil a picture that you want to create, and you can even color it in if you wish.
If you do not have artistic talents, doodling is perfectly fine. This is your journal, so use whatever creative means you wish.
This type of journaling idea is what bullet journals are all about. I love to look at these journals, but I don't have the artistic skill to make them look like some of these bullet journal artists.
Seriously, some day bullet journaling this will be an art form, like collage, macramé, or watercolor. To see what I mean, here are 132 bullet journal layouts and ideas.
34. Record Your Small Wins
If you’re working toward any type of ultimate goal, take out your journal whenever you have a small win or meet a process goal that brings you one step closer to your final goal. Doing this will help you be able to watch your progress and encourage you to stay on track.
35. Write Down Your Brilliant Ideas
As soon as a great idea pops into your head, write it down in your journal. It is easy to forget your ideas unless you quickly write them down, which can lead to a missed opportunity of creating something great.
The Brilliant Ideas Launchpad is a very helpful tool to use when you’re journaling about your ideas. Or, if you’re writing in a blank journal, use some kind of small sign next to your ideas so you can go back and easily locate them–such as drawing a small lightbulb.
The Brilliant Ideas Launch Pad: Generate & Capture Your Best Ideas
36. Take Notes on Things You Learn
Write down any key points that you find to be interesting or enlightening when you’re watching a TED talk or even just talking to a stranger. Anything that you hear throughout the day that resonates with you is worth writing down to either leave yourself a reminder to come back to this idea later so you can research it further or to remember things that you learn that you can use in your personal development.
37. Create a “Wish List” of Books to Read
We all have a list of books that we would ideally love to read if time allowed for it. However, most people end up having to pick and choose which books they can fit into their busy schedule, which involves prioritizing the books that interest you. Keep a living list in your journal of the things you want to read and switch the order of the books around as needed.
Recommended Books: 20 Best Personal Development and Self-Help Books
38. “Wreck” Your Journal
Wreck This Journal offers a unique way for users to express themselves. Instead of making you feel like everything needs to be nice and neat, this journal asks readers to fill the pages with messy mistakes.
Wreck This Journal (4 Volume Set)
Using creatively illustrated cues, the creator of this journal encourages users to perform “destructive” acts–such as poking holes in the pages, putting pictures in only to deface them, using coffee as paint, etc to have a truly creative journaling experience. This unique method of journal-making helps users find new ways to get away from the fear of having blank pages and be able to completely engage in being creative.
39. Let it Go
Using a journal that is specifically made to help you let things go will allow you to move on with your life without carrying any toxic baggage from your past. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, stress is the basic cause of most human illnesses and diseases. However, writing things down is an effective way to reduce your overall stress.
Write It Down, Let It Go: A Worry Relief Journal
When you're forced to record your emotions, you can process them at a deeper level than if you just allow them to stay inside your mind. Writing down things down that you want to let go of is also a form of release if you’re feeling angry or overwhelmed.
40. Write Poetry
This Tuzech Handmade Leather Journal is perfect if you find it therapeutic to write poetry. It has thick, blank pages, so you can write any type of poetry that you enjoy or feel like you can use to express yourself. Having a daily poetry journal will keep you writing every day or whenever you have the opportunity to do so.
Tuzech Handmade 100% Pure Leather Diary Leather Journal
41. Things You’re Looking Forward to Doing
Whether you have a big trip coming up or you are simply looking forward to some small weekend plans with your family, write down a few things every day that you’re looking forward to doing. Knowing that you have something exciting coming up can help push you through the bumps in the road that come along during the week.
42. Write About Past Mistakes
Don’t do this with the purpose of reminding yourself about the things that have gone wrong in the past; write about the lessons that came out of your mistakes. Reflecting on the lessons you have been able to take away from difficult times throughout your life can help reassure you next time you make a mistake that there is probably a lesson that can be learned.
43. Record Your Secrets
Your journal is a great place to keep all of your secrets that you don’t want other people to know. This Cagie Journal comes with a metal lock that requires a three digit combination to open, so you will be the only one who has access to what’s inside.
This is even a great place to write down secrets that other people tell you but they ask you to not share with anyone else. Sometimes that can be a hard request to make, so if you can write it down in your journal, you will be less likely to be tempted to spill the beans.
44. Write About People Who Inspire You
You probably come across new people every day, whether that is on television, at work, or just in public. Write about anyone that you admire or find to be an inspiration, and reflect on the ways in which they inspired you.
45. Write From Various Perspectives
Take a topic that is relevant to your life at the time and write about it from a variety of perspectives. If there is a hot topic on the news that people are very divided on, write at least a paragraph that could come from each side of the argument. Doing this will help you see things from a perspective that you may not otherwise consider, which will ultimately help you build empathy. Considering things from other people’s points of view can be very eye-opening.
46. Make a Bucket List
You’re always going to think of things that you want to add to your bucket list. Keep this document going in your journal by adding things to it on a consistent basis. And–doing what you can to actually follow through with them!
47. Do a Life Inventory
Do an assessment of the balance in your life in all of the significant areas. Consider things like your health, your work/life balance, your family, your mental wellbeing, and anything else that may be important to you. Check in with yourself to see if there are any adjustments that you need to make in any of these categories.
48. Create a Dialogue
Is there a conversation that you really want to have with someone but for some reason, you can’t? Maybe it’s a family member who has passed away or a fictional character on television. There are no limits to this, you can create a dialogue with anyone you want to on any topic that you want. It’s fun to imagine how you think or wish these types of conversations would go.
49. Play the Devil’s Advocate
If you’re facing an important decision, play the devil’s advocate for yourself. Even if you think you are certain on what your decision is going to be, think about what someone else would say who completely disagrees with you. Doing so may help you improve the quality of your ultimate decisions.
50. Add Some Entertainment or Humor to Your Journaling
The Zen as F*ck journal includes positive affirmations and cathartic activities that don’t hold you back from writing down how you really feel. The novelty of this journal will make you laugh while also making you think with a deep sense of introspective. This is a great place to just lay it all out there.
Zen as F*ck: A Journal for Practicing the Mindful Art of Not Giving a Sh*t
51. Create a Family History Journal
This Family Heritage Journal is perfect for this purpose. If you make a family history journal, it can be passed down from generation to generation, creating something special and meaningful for everyone in your family.
Family Heritage Journal: History, Stories, and Cherished Keepsakes
Ask your family members about their personal memories of your parents, grandparents, and so on. This will help you make a collaborative journal through multiple generations and see how things in the family change with time.
52. Keep a Political Journal
This would be a journal where you record your thoughts regarding any current political issues, the people who are running for office, and recent decisions that have been made by your local or national government.
This can help you preserve your opinions and assist you in working through some tough issues without having to immerse yourself in news reports. Consider the things that you would do differently if you were the one in charge.
53. Make a Bullet Journal
Keeping a bullet journal can help you be more productive and organized in your life. This dotted grid notebook is a great journal option if you want to start this practice. Not only does bullet journaling help you track your everyday actions, it also allows you to stay on top of your long-term goals. It mixes a to-do list with a diary and a planner, which is perfect for people who like to track their habits and consolidate all of their lists into one place.
54. Create a Budgeting Journal
If you’re trying to stay on top of your finances, creating a budgeting journal is a good way to do so. It will allow you to compare your spending over time and help you recognize when any adjustments need to be made to your lifestyle.
This Clever Fox Budget Journal will help you take control of your finances, stay organized, manage your cash flow, and help you reach any financial goals that you may have.
Clever Fox Budget Planner – Expense Tracker Notebook
55. Answer One Question a Day for 5 Years
The Q&A a Day: 5 Year Journal prompts you to answer one question a day for an entire year. When the year is over, go back to the beginning of the journal and start all over with the same questions. In the end, you’re left with a 5-year self study that allows you to see how far you have come during that time.
56. Write Down the Things You Want to Learn
Have you recently taken an interest in a foreign language? Or, is there something that you hear people talking about all the time and you have no idea what they’re talking about–such as a popular television show or something that has to do with your profession that you never actually learned about?
Record the things that you want to spend time learning so you can return to this list when you have some free time in the future to devote to learning.
57. What Can You Do to Improve Your Community Today?
Journal about a random act of kindness that you can do today or something bigger like volunteering for an organization that means a lot to you. Think about ways that you can give back to your community to make it a better place to live.
58. Incorporate Some Stress-Relieving Adult Coloring
This adult coloring book + leather notebook has 160 pages of designs in the top margins to offer coloring inspiration and stress relief. Studies have found that drawing in a rhythmic repetition is a proven method for stress reduction and relaxation. With this journal, you get both: 20 unique designs to color in and endless pages of space for you to write whatever you want.
Adult Coloring Book + Leather Notebook
59. Break Down Your Future Goals and Into Actionable Items
While this might seem like a “to do” list, using your journal as a central location to record your long-term goals and then breaking those down into more immediate actionable steps can help you stay organized and increase your chances of reaching your final goal.
Final Thoughts – 59 Journal Prompts
How did you like the journaling prompts on our list?
Having journaling ideas that you can use to write in your daily journal is important. Everyone gets writer's block from time to time, so having a list of ideas can help you to jump start your creativity.
These 59 ideas offer a great starting place for your daily journal. Try them out and let us know what you think. If you're a parent encouraging your teen to journal, here's our big list of journal writing prompts for teens.
If you're looking for more, check out our article on idea generation techniques and this list of things to fill a notebook with.
If you'd like to learn more about this great habit, then check out this book that will show you how to start a journal, make it a habit, and find endless writing topics.
If you have other journaling ideas that you want to share with others, please list them in the comments—and don't be afraid to share this article on your social media feeds.
Finally, if you don’t know the “right” way to journal, then check out this seven-step process for building a journaling habit that sticks.
10 thoughts on “What to Write About in a Journal: 59 Journaling Ideas”
Thank you for the effort. It is indeed a nice list.
For someone that aspires to be a writer, the list seems to follow a pattern of stretching a list beyond its use. The 33 habits could have been 9 maximum.Think about the reader and the fact that you are wasting your and their time, then be brief and get to the point.
I think Anonymous didn’t get the point of the article.
Understating that this isn’t a novel or a set of instructions, I found your post/list exactly what I was looking for. Some fresh ideas for my daily journaling. Thanks so much!
Thanks Kelly. I appreciate that. I thought the same thing, but didn’t want to be the one to say it 🙂 everyone is entitled to their own opinions after all, and as the writer I wouldn’t want to seem to be shutting that down. Glad you liked it! 🙂
I found the same thing true.i love the ideas.when I am tired of the usual things,I like to write and this will give me some added ideas.
Same goes here, great list especially when I am preparing on the road of writing in my 30s. Thanks.
Thanks for this Scott.
I have started writing daily journals but it has been more of a daily report. I felt it was awkward hence I did the search that brought me among others, this article. And even as I found other angles for creative ideas, it has looked more like so much more work. I see you talking about 3 pages here and there. I just want to put something down and go to sleep. I am not walking towards becoming a writer. I am an entrepreneur (I run a design agency in Nigeria) and I just need the journal to help me become a better person, model and then affect my team and organization, as thought me by Steven Covey’s The 8th Habit.
Which of the points should I stay with?
I need a journal that helps me to be a better person, be more accountable and self-aware. Some conscious Emotional Intelligence work. You get me?
This list is just for ideas for the people who struggle for what to write in their journals. There are no “hard limits” on writing. Consistency is more important that that. It could be 3 sentences a day or 3 pages.
If you are looking for single idea to journal about, that will have a large impact on your personality and abilities, I would say a simple gratitude journal. Every day write down 3 things you are grateful for. This really helps clear the mind, closes open loops that may give you stress and increases happiness. With this you will have more energy and ability to devote to your “work” time. … and it works with as little as 3 sentences. (though I tend to aim for a paragraph for each line item)
Great suggestions! The imaginary friend suggestion was just what I needed. I’ve been contemplating writing in my journal for months, thank you!! 🙂
The time capsule idea is REALLY creative and I love it. And I can’t decide which journal to choose! There are too many good ideas!
I think this is a nice list but I think I will use only a few in my journal. There are some you could have combined together. But I appreciate your thoughts. Thank you very much.
Comments are closed.