Keeping a journal can have a wide-range of benefits for people in every walk of life. This simple practice helps to reduce stress, encourages us to achieve goals, and may even improve our physical health. For writers, though, journaling holds even more benefits. Taking time to reflect, plan, dream of the future, and process the past gives us opportunities to support our creativity, along with our mental well-being.
In day-to-day writing, we find time to make connections between ideas. We train our brains to pay attention to small details or to notice how emotions interact with motivations. Journaling helps us build a habit of writing even in seasons when our more creative endeavors are stagnant.
While there are a million and one ways to keep a journal–from bulleted lists to gratitude journals to daily recordings– each method helps us navigate our mind, beliefs, and experiences. In doing so, journaling ultimately strengthens our writing voice.
A blank journal page can be intimidating to start with, so here are a few journal prompts for writers to help you get started:
1. Describe the most vivid scene you can remember from today.
The scene could be as simple as an interesting sign you passed, or it could be a full narration of an event from the day. Include sights, smells, sounds where possible, and any emotions associated with what you saw.
2. Create a purpose statement.
Write out your main goal for your writing. Then discuss why you enjoy writing, what you think the core of your message is, and what has motivated you to write in the past.
3. Write a character sketch.
Write a description of a person you admire. Include their most prominent characteristics–turns of phrase they always use, a smell you associate with them, or a memory you have with them.
4. Dig into your emotions.
List out any emotion you experienced today, and delve into the sources of those feelings, as well as how you responded.
5. Write out a prayer.
Pray over your current goals, challenges you’re facing, or a person who’s been on your mind.
6. Continue a conversation.
Think back on a recent conversation where you could have said more on a topic but didn’t. What would you have said? Make it a dialogue by including responses to keep the conversation flowing.
7. Describe your ideal writing environment.
Do you work best in a quiet space or with background noise? Do you need open areas clear of clutter, or do you like having materials close at hand? Are there certain smells or colors that relax or energize you? After you describe your dream writing space, think of ways to make incorporate those elements into you writing zone.
8. Meditate on what you’re reading.
Engaging with texts we’re reading helps us to dig deeper and glean more from the texts. Write a reflection on a passage of Scripture from your morning devotional, discuss a book you recently finished, or write a review of a favorite story.
9. Write a list of affirmations.
Include your writing strengths, times others have encouraged you in your work, and moments when you overcame challenges in your writing journey.
10. Reflect on areas of improvement.
Write down areas you want to improve in, whether it be specific aspects of writing–such as, “I want to write better dialogue”– or more general goals–such as, “I want to write more consistently.” List ways you can work toward those goals. Try to include smaller milestones that you can complete and celebrate along the way.