Personal journal writing prompts

Journal Writing Prompts | Journey.Cloud

What are Journal Prompts?

Have you ever had a feeling that you want to write something in a journal but don’t know where to start? Journal prompts, also known as writing prompts, are journaling ideas that help you to focus on what to write. Using journal prompts give you a clearer direction before you start writing!

Finding your Perfect Journal Prompts

Choose whatever works for you: word, phrase, quote, photo. You can find prompts in the Coach section of the Journey app. But if you’re stuck, we'll provide a list of journal prompts you need below! The following journal prompts are designed to help you clarify your thoughts, perspective, and desires. You’re sure to find a writing prompt here that will spark your imagination and get your words flowing.

Journal Prompts Examples

Some suggestions below are a series of examples to start off your first entry!

Write about yourself

  • What brings you joy?
  • Describe a place where you felt happiest.
  • What was your greatest fear, and how did you conquer it?
  • Write a letter to someone that you always want to thank but have never had the chance to do so.
  • What is something that you would like to change about yourself? How can you change it?

Write about the daydream that you had

  • Describe your dream job/partner/house.
  • Where’s one place that you’d like to visit, and how do you imagine your time there?
  • If you are granted a wish, what would you wish for and why?
  • If you are a superhero, what superpower would you like to have and how would you use it?

Write about the present

  • Write a letter to someone that you care about to tell them how you feel.
  • Reflect and write letters to yourself with constructive feedback to improve yourself.
  • Write about the people around you to describe what they are like, and what are your views about their actions etc.
  • You can also record voice memos if you feel more comfortable to say those feelings out before writing them down!

Write about the future

  • List down a bucket list with the things that you have always wanted to do.
  • Where do you see yourself in the next 1, 3, 5, 10 years from now?
  • What is something that you would like to achieve? How do you plan on reaching your goal(s)?
  • How could you make someone you care about feel better if he/she just lost something important to them?

With Journey, all journals written are kept private and secure, so you can write about anything that concerns you, and you would like to reflect on.

64 Journaling Prompts for Self-Discovery

Your journal creates an opportunity to reconnect with yourself and explore difficult emotions.

Many people keep a journal in their teenage years, either by choice or due to a school assignment. Perhaps it’s been years since you’ve considered putting pen to paper and expressing your thoughts and dreams. But journaling can have benefits for anyone at any stage of life.

For centuries, people around the world have turned to journals as trusted friends.

Reflecting on daily experiences, relationships, and personal values can help you get in better touch with your thoughts and feelings. It can lead to greater peace of mind.

“I can shake off everything if I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn,” wrote Anne Frank, who kept a now-famous account of her daily life and dreams for the future while in hiding during the Holocaust.

A journal also offers a safe space to express difficult emotions, making it easier to work through distressing thoughts that you might struggle to share out loud.

Are you interested in giving journaling a try? Do you feel a bit stuck when it comes to getting started? Try the 64 prompts below to kick-start your creativity and write your way toward well-being.

You can certainly learn more about yourself by reviewing what you do each day, but journaling often goes beyond keeping a log of daily events.

Journal prompts offer specific themes and topics to reflect on, which can be helpful when you:

  • want to make writing a habit but never know what to write about
  • have a lot of conflicting thoughts to sort through
  • feel as if you could write all day and want help narrowing your focus

Some prompts can even help you collect your thoughts on a recent conflict with a friend or partner. For example, writing about specific relationship challenges can help you get more clarity on your emotional needs and how to make sure they’re met.

Journaling generally proves most helpful when you do it regularly, though you don’t necessarily need to write every single day. If you’re short on time, you might aim for 3 days each week and pick one prompt to write about each day.

Evidence-backed benefits of journaling

In a small 2020 study, mothers of children with emotional or behavioral concerns wrote in a journal three times a week for 6 weeks. The results suggest that keeping a journal led to more optimism and gratitude, both of which can boost well-being.

A 2018 study suggests that writing about positive experiences for just 15 minutes a day three times a week may help ease feelings of anxiety and stress and boost resilience.

Research from 2002 suggests that when your writing focuses on exploring and making sense of what happened, writing about a traumatic or stressful experience can help you heal and recover. Although expressing your emotions also has value, writing only about distressing emotions may not offer the same benefits.

We’ve organized these prompts into categories that focus on relationships, emotions, how you feel about work, and more.

Love and relationships

Having strong, supportive relationships can help improve overall well-being, protect against mental health concerns like depression, and boost resilience, which refers to your ability to weather life’s many challenges.

Writing about relationships with loved ones provides the opportunity to:

  • explore the ways these bonds strengthen you
  • express your gratitude for loved ones
  • recognize when relationships no longer serve you
  • explore what you want out of future relationships

Consider giving these prompts a try:

  1. Who do you trust most? Why?
  2. What are your strengths in relationships (kindness, empathy, etc.)?
  3. How do you draw strength from loved ones?
  4. What do you value most in relationships (trust, respect, sense of humor, etc.)?
  5. What three important things have you learned from previous relationships?
  6. What five traits do you value most in potential partners?
  7. How do you show compassion to others? How can you extend that same compassion to yourself?
  8. What are three things working well in your current relationship? What are three things that could be better?
  9. What boundaries could you set in your relationships to safeguard your own well-being?
  10. What do you most want your children (or future children) to learn from you?
  11. How can you better support and appreciate your loved ones?
  12. What does love mean to you? How do you recognize it in a relationship?
  13. List three things you’d like to tell a friend, family member, or partner.

Work and career

If you work full-time, you spend the majority of your waking hours on the job. That makes your career a pretty significant part of your life.

Having a fulfilling job can promote a sense of purpose and satisfaction with life. On the other hand, having a job that demands too much of you or fails to utilize your unique talents can wear you down and lead to burnout.

Taking some time to explore your current career can help highlight what you enjoy about your job and when it might be time to pursue a change.

Here are some prompts to consider:

  1. How do you use your personal strengths and abilities at work?
  2. How do your co-workers and supervisors recognize your strengths?
  3. How does work fulfill you? Does it leave you wanting more?
  4. What part of your workday do you most enjoy?
  5. What about your work feels real, necessary, or important to you?
  6. Do you see yourself in the same job in 10 years?
  7. What are your career ambitions?
  8. What three things can help you begin working to accomplish those goals?
  9. What can you do to improve your work performance?
  10. What does your work teach you? Does it offer continued opportunities for learning and growth?
  11. Does your work drain or overwhelm you? Why? Is this something you can change?


Exploring your values, opinions, and personality traits in writing can teach you more about who you are as a person.

This in-depth reflection can strengthen not just the relationship you have with yourself, but also the connections you build with others.

Some ideas to explore include:

  1. What values do you consider most important in life (honesty, justice, altruism, loyalty, etc.)? How do your actions align with those values?
  2. What three changes can you make to live according to your personal values?
  3. Describe yourself using the first 10 words that come to mind. Then, list 10 words that you’d like to use to describe yourself. List a few ways to transform those descriptions into reality.
  4. What do you appreciate most about your personality? What aspects do you find harder to accept?
  5. Explore an opinion or two that you held in the past but have since questioned or changed. What led you to change that opinion?
  6. List three personal beliefs that you’re willing to reconsider or further explore.
  7. Finish this sentence: “My life would be incomplete without …”
  8. Describe one or two significant life events that helped shape you into who you are today.
  9. When do you trust yourself most? When do you find it harder to have faith in your instincts?
  10. What three things would you most like others (loved ones, potential friends and partners, professional acquaintances, etc.) to know about you?

Uncomfortable emotions

Journaling can help you express and begin to navigate difficult and painful emotions. That’s part of what makes it such a valuable exercise.

Burying unwanted emotions and thoughts can seem helpful at first. Pushing those feelings away means you avoid the pain and discomfort they cause, right?

Not always. In reality, avoiding emotional distress can intensify it. That pain lies dormant below the surface of your everyday thoughts until you can’t keep it back any longer. When it finally comes bubbling up, it may feel more overwhelming than it did originally.

These prompts can help you explore and process challenging emotions productively:

  1. What difficult thoughts or emotions come up most frequently for you?
  2. Which emotions do you find hardest to accept (guilt, anger, disappointment, etc. )? How do you handle these emotions?
  3. Describe a choice you regret. What did you learn from it?
  4. What parts of daily life cause stress, frustration, or sadness? What can you do to change those experiences?
  5. What are three things that can instantly disrupt a good mood and bring you down? What strategies do you use to counter these effects?
  6. What are three self-defeating thoughts that show up in your self-talk? How can you reframe them to encourage yourself instead?
  7. What go-to coping strategies help you get through moments of emotional or physical pain?
  8. Who do you trust with your most painful and upsetting feelings? How can you connect with them when feeling low?
  9. What do you fear most? Have your fears changed throughout life?

Note: If writing about painful emotions makes you feel even worse, there’s no need to push yourself. It may help to establish a regular journaling habit before you turn to more challenging topics.

Living your best life

Writing about the little things that add meaning to daily life makes it easier to notice just how much they boost your mood and overall well-being.

Recognizing what you enjoy most about life reminds you to keep making time for those things. It can also promote feelings of gratitude and contentment, as exploring what you love about life can help you realize that you may already have much of what you desire.

Here are some prompts to try:

  1. Describe your favorite thing to do when feeling low.
  2. What three ordinary things bring you the most joy?
  3. List three strategies that help you stay present in your daily routines. Then, list three strategies to help boost mindfulness in your life.
  4. How do you prioritize self-care?
  5. Describe two or three things you do to relax.
  6. What aspects of your life are you most grateful for?
  7. How do you show yourself kindness and compassion each day?
  8. Write a short love letter to some object or place that makes you happy.
  9. What place makes you feel most peaceful? Describe that place using all five senses.
  10. List 10 things that inspire or motivate you.
  11. What are your favorite hobbies? Why?

Personal growth and life goals

Getting in touch with who you are now doesn’t just help you recognize key strengths and values. It can also help unlock a deeper understanding of who you want to become and what you want from life.

As long as you live, you can continue to pursue change and growth.

Try these prompts to explore your dreams and outline potential paths toward change:

  1. What parts of life surprised you most? What turned out the way you expected it would?
  2. What three things would you share with your teenage self? What three questions would you want to ask an older version of yourself?
  3. List three important goals. How do they match up to your goals from 5 years ago?
  4. Do your goals truly reflect your desires? Or do they reflect what someone else (a parent, partner, friend, etc.) wants for you?
  5. What helps you stay focused and motivated when you feel discouraged?
  6. What do you look forward to most in the future?
  7. Identify one area where you’d like to improve. Then, list three specific actions you can take to create that change.
  8. How do you make time for yourself each day?
  9. What do you most want to accomplish in life?
  10. List three obstacles lying in the way of your contentment or happiness. Then, list two potential solutions to begin overcoming each obstacle.

If you’ve never kept a journal before, writing on a regular basis might feel a bit challenging. Even with prompts to help prime your thoughts, you might find it tough to get started.

The best way to start is to pick up your pen and start scribbling away. Your journal is just for you, so there’s no need to worry about your handwriting, grammar, or spelling. The important part of journaling is getting your thoughts onto the page.

Some people find that it helps to start with a “stream of consciousness” approach. This means writing down whatever comes to mind on a topic, exactly as it pops into your thoughts, without stopping to worry about punctuation or complete sentences.

A few more tips to help you find your flow include:

  • Find a quiet place to write. Outside noise and other distractions can disrupt your thoughts, especially if you’re new to journaling. If you can’t find a quiet space, try listening to instrumental music (anything without vocals) as you write.
  • Don’t worry about getting it “right.” When it comes to journaling, you can’t really go wrong. If your writing helps you process emotions and learn more about yourself, that’s what matters.
  • Write regularly. You might set aside 15 or 20 minutes to write several days a week. It’s OK if you can’t find time to write every day. Writing at a specific time each day, such as after dinner or just before bed, can help the habit stick.

Journaling can help ease stress and uncertainty and teach you more about yourself and what you want from life.

That said, writing may not always feel fun or easy. It’s normal to experience a little discomfort when writing about painful emotions and frustrating experiences. But venting this distress can often lead to healing and growth.

When your writing continues to bring up distressing feelings or memories, a therapist can offer guidance with exploring these emotions and experiences in more depth.

5 great personal diary apps

November 16, 2020 Android iOS

Write down your thoughts, ideas, and impressions so you don't miss anything.

1. Diaro

This application can become your personal diary, travel journal or just a collection of notes. Save your thoughts with reference not only to calendar days, but also to various categories, tags and geotags, which greatly facilitates their subsequent search. nine0003

The application allows you to attach an unlimited number of photos to each entry, which, if necessary, are cropped directly in Diaro. You can also mark your mood, the weather and set a reminder to make a new note.

A special password, which is set in the settings, will protect all data from prying eyes. There you can also change the font size and choose a dark interface theme. The paid version has backup and synchronization of data on various devices via Dropbox. nine0003


Price: Free


Price: Free

2. Journey

Journey is a simple and intuitive personal record keeping tool. The application automatically recognizes and indicates your location, the temperature outside the window and what you were doing while creating the note: sitting still, jogging or just walking.

You can manually set the mood, add tags and attach various files: photos, videos or audio recordings. All added images will be available on the Atlas tab, where they are displayed on top of the world map in accordance with geotags, which is very convenient for saving travel notes. nine0003

A large number of Journey features are only available in the paid version. Among them - saving records on Google Drive in Markdown format, night mode of the interface, connecting Google Fit, the "Return to the past" function, as well as exporting, backing up and printing records.


Price: Free


Price: Free

This is a completely free diary application that includes only the most essential features. It is not overloaded with settings and is distinguished by the simplest navigation. The main screen is represented by four tabs: records, images, search and settings. There are no three-level menus and subsections. nine0003

Each note can be supplemented with only a photo and one emoji (there are more than 30 of them) that characterize your mood. Tags and sections are not provided, and the search is done only by words.

In the settings you can change the font size, you can choose the color accent of the interface, set a reminder, export entries to PDF, perform a general reset and set a password for entering, specifying the email to restore it.


Price: Free


Price: Free


Day One Journal

Another simple and convenient application. In it, each entry is supplemented with a geotag, weather information, as well as daily statistics and data about the device on which the note was created.

In the paid version, you can add an unlimited number of photos and create multiple magazines with different color schemes and titles. There is also a local backup function with export to PDF.

The Android version of Day One Journal lags behind the iOS version and does not yet support the Russian language, but the developers promise to add it soon by completely updating the application. nine0003


Price: Free


Price: Free

In Daylio, you can tell about events and your emotions without a single word, using only special icons. On the basis of such marks at the end of the week, month or year, visual statistics will be built, which will reveal interesting patterns.

If desired, each entry can be supplemented with a text note that allows you to describe the reasons or some details that explain poor health or, for example, lack of mood. For the most active users, a system of achievements is provided. nine0003

In the free version of Daylio, you can export records to a CSV file, and in the paid version, you can also export to PDF with the ability to print. You can set up access to the application by PIN code, reminders, color schemes and icon sets, of which there are quite a few available.


Price: Free


Price: Free


  • Why we start journaling and how it saves us
  • How journaling can change your life
  • How to keep a diary: 10 tips • Arzamas

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    CourseWhy people keep diaries and historians read themAudio lecturesMaterials

    Don't worry about mistakes, write when you want, encrypt secrets, carry a notepad with you - and other valuable recommendations

    Author Ilya Venyavkin


    It's never too late to start

    There is no specific time or age when you need to start a diary: you may need it at any time in your life. For example, first-grader Alexandra Ippolitova began to take notes directly in her school notebook. She tried to write down everything that happened to her at school and at home:

    "January 17, 1984   Here and below, fragments of the diaries are given in accordance with the author's spelling and punctuation.
    Today at school everyone said that we would have 5 lessons in the class. And I said to myself that we would have three lessons. Because the third lesson was 3 filmstrips and the 4th lesson was the Mosconcert. And in the 5th lesson there was a skiing physicist.
    I forgot!

    nine0118 A page from the diary of first-grader Alexandra Ippolitova. 1984 © "Prozhito"

    And an anonymous author from Ust-Narva, whose diary is kept in the archives of the Research Center for Eastern Europe at the University of Bremen (Forschungsstelle Osteuropa), started writing notes a week after his retirement:

    I know that the proportion of many who have "gone on a well-deserved rest", - this is how our sentimentally sugary newspapermen and party trade union speakers define pensioners - is unenviable: they gradually, but still very visibly and tangibly, grow fat, go crazy, get sick and quite quickly merge with their mother- nature, participating with their remains in the eternal rotation of matter. Salvation is not to lose shape, to do something, to strive for something, to participate in something - while the bowler hat is cooking and the legs are being worn. Keeping a diary is a kind of such work. nine0003

    2. Short notes are valuable too!

    To keep a diary, one does not need to have any literary talent, nor a love for detailed descriptions or introspection - even fragmentary entries can be of value. Emperor Nicholas II kept a diary from the age of fourteen and always did it in a sparse factual manner - regardless of what was happening around - war or revolution. The last entry was made on June 30, 1918 - a few weeks before the execution:

    “Aleksey took his first bath after Tobolsk; his knee is getting better, but he cannot straighten it completely. The weather is warm and pleasant. We have no news from outside."

    The last entry in the diary of Nicholas II. June 30, 1918 State Archive of the Russian Federation


    Use the diary for observations

    You don't have to wait until something extraordinary happens in your life. Just looking around is enough. Biologist Boris Golov watched birds all his life and wrote down his observations in a diary:

    May 3, 1938
    Grishkov forest. I scared a jay out of a hollow. It is possible that a nest is arranged there. Last year, in the same hollow, there was a jay's nest. Two buzzards fly very low over the forest. A black kite flew by.

    Diary of Boris Golov. 1938 © "Prozhito"

    Ilya Melgunov, an employee of the Leningrad post office, followed the life of the ficus:

    February 5, 1971 years old
    Ficus is sick again. Leaves are falling. There are 9 leaves left. Today I took a ficus out of the pot, washed the ground. I planted it again not so tightly for the roots. <…>
    February 18
    The ficus has only 3 leaves left. I expect the latter will either fall or get better. I suspect a cat - didn’t she go into a pot of ficus?

    4. Talk to the diary

    It is difficult to establish who first turned to his diary as an interlocutor. One can only say that this practice became popular at the turn of the 18th-19th centuries and arose under the influence of the epistolary genre. At this time, many authors notice that an interesting and trustworthy interlocutor can be not only a pen pal, but also a diary. nine0003 Diary of Magdalena van Schinne. Cover of the 1990 edition © Uitgeverij Verloren

    In October 1788, the Dutch girl Magdalena van Schinne, instead of writing and sending a letter to her friend, simply wrote down on a piece of paper:

    “Oh my paper, you are the only one who will hear my ideas, feelings, worries and joys. Here I can pour out my whole soul; with others, even my best friends, I want to learn how to hide my feelings, or at least I don't want to tell them about myself anymore. You are my only confidant." nine0003

    Since then, the diary has repeatedly helped people in a situation where they lacked a reliable and understanding interlocutor.

    5. Share experiences with your diary

    The diary helps to turn feelings, worries and doubts into text on paper, and therefore look at them from the side. Sometimes it is necessary to take a breath, make a difficult decision or understand something important about yourself.

    December 1, 1923 Soviet Komsomol member Valentina Sokolova wrote in her diary:

    “<…> Now I only think about the future. What will come of me. Am I always going to feel out of place. After all, it is flour. I thought that I love adventures and suddenly everything was shaken. What to do? For what? Yes, and will anything come of it? Am I going to be an extra person? Let's put the last question, I solved it last year and it seems right. And now what to do?

    Diary of Valentina Sokolova. 1923 State Archive of the Perm Territory

    6. If you don't like to write, record on a voice recorder

    A diary does not have to be on paper at all: it can be recorded on an audio cassette (this is what the hero of the Rewind podcast journalist Evgeny Berg did) or simply on a smartphone.

    7. Or draw, stick on photos, magazine clippings, tickets and anything else you care to keep

    A diary is not always exclusively a text that you yourself wrote. In fact, this is an archive of your impressions, into which you, like in a herbarium, paste everything that you do not want to forget. nine0003 Anonymous diary. 2000 © "Prozhito"

    So, in 2000, a fan of St. Petersburg "Zenith" pasted portraits of her favorite football players, drawings and a photograph of the Depeche Mode group into her diary.

    August 3, 2000
    Yesterday I was at Zenith with the girls. It was cool. Zenit - Spartak Alania 2:1. Zenit is a champion!!!
    How cool it was.
    At the 7th minute, Radimov scored so beautifully from a free kick a goal into the far nine. nine0003

    Party playlist for football fans and more

    Songs that Zenit fans, truckers, and teenagers in the yards listen to and sing

    8. If you feel that the records are too personal and may fall into the wrong hands, use the cipher

    Portrait of Samuel Pepys. Painting by John Hales. 1666 © National Portrait Gallery, London

    The author of one of the most famous diaries in history, London official Samuel Pepys, used a mix of Spanish and French to make it difficult to read fragments about his love affairs. nine0003

    February 17, 1667
    The Mitchels and his wife paid us a visit, we drank and laughed a lot, after which - it was a beautiful evening, the moon was shining - the Mitchels and I went for a boat ride. To my chagrin, I saw how all the way ella huddles a su marido and hides manos, quando yo I try to take one de los - so this evening nothing happened to me con ella. When we landed, I, on some plausible pretense, sent my husband back to the bateau, hoping to snatch a couple of baisers from her; I took it by the hand, but ella turned away, and quando I said: “I can’t tocar te?” - with a slight modo she answered: "Yo no I love it when they touch me." I pretended not to notice this, after which I politely said goodbye, et su marido andar me almost to the micasa, where we parted. Alexander Livergant. nine0003

    And the Soviet schoolboy Oleg Chernevsky used a self-made cipher from brackets, semicolons and other signs.

    Encrypted diary of a student of the Stalin era

    What Oleg Chernevsky wrote about in 1937-1938

    9. Don't force yourself to write every day (if you don't feel like it)

    The diary must not be regular. You can contact him when the need arises. For example, Leo Tolstoy kept a diary almost all his life, but in the 1870s he took a break and wrote almost nothing. Or, conversely, always carry a notebook with you and write down everything you see. So did the engineer Eduard Yanovich, who left more than 300 notebooks. nine0003 Spread from the 113th notebook of Eduard Yanovich. 1972 © Prozhito

    10. Don't worry about mistakes and handwriting

    Many diary writers strive for perfect handwriting and literate writing, but it is important that the internal corrector does not kill the desire to write.

    Horizontal turner Nikolai Belousov studied a lot, read and was very worried about his mistakes, but still kept a diary.

    nine0002 October 19, 1937
    Weakness in orgonism, but does not quench the burning desire for reading, I read so much that vacationers are surprised. I see myself among them, lonely, and thinking many young women are afraid to speak with doubt, thinking that I am very proud, this can be seen from the stern look. But they, like many people, are easily mistaken when they think this about me. I don't get close just because I don't think I'm worth it."

    Spread from the diary of Elizabeth Sarapik © Prozhito

    Tsarskoye Selo resident Elizaveta Sarapik wrote in a completely horrendous handwriting, but Prozhito volunteers were able to decipher her notes.

    other useful tips

    14 tips on how to record the memoirs of grandfathers or grandmother

    How to write an autobiography if you are Lev Tolstoy

    How to write Russian literature: 14 Instructions

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