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130 Journal Writing Prompts!

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130 Journal Writing Prompts by Thomas W.P. Slatin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

These prompts are subject to copyright.

Example Uses:


  • Name something you lost or gave away that can never be replaced.
  • What 5 websites do you visit often, and why?
  • Name a totally useless possession and how you came to acquire it.
  • What music album would be used for a movie about your life?
  • List your bad habits and/or addictions and what you have tried to rid yourself of them.
  • If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be, and what would you do if later on you changed your mind?
  • What are your religious beliefs? Have they changed, or have they always stayed the same?
  • When was your last food craving, and what did you crave?
  • Who was your first crush and what made them special?
  • Name your most cherished childhood memory.
  • Turn to an entry in your journal or diary from a year or more ago. What has changed and what has stayed the same since then?
  • What is one thing nobody knows about you because nobody ever cared to ask?
  • Robert Frost write a poem titled The Road Not Taken. Name a road you’ve always wanted to travel. Where do you hope it takes you, and what might you see on the way?
  • Name one thing you always wanted to do, but haven’t. What has prevented you from doing it?
  • Write about your first kiss. Was it everything you wished or hoped it would be?
  • What was the worst mistake or decision you have ever made in life? What could you have done differently?
  • What song was stuck in your head recently, and what were you doing at the time that made you think of it?
  • Describe 5 things you want to see or do before it’s too late.
  • Write about something you now know that you wish you knew earlier in life. How could this knowledge have helped you?
  • Write about your greatest fear.
  • Name one thing you feel brings out the good in people.
  • Describe a time in your life when everything turned out fine, despite the odds.
  • If you invented a device that could fix one problem you are facing right now, would you use it? What problem would you like to solve?
  • Write about the last time you spoke to your best friend. What did you talk about?
  • Describe a time you felt alone.
  • Name something you found; what was it and where did you find it?
  • What’s on your calendar for tomorrow?
  • What is the most annoying sound you have ever heard?
  • Describe your first job.
  • What is the one thing you cannot live without?
  • Quote the nicest thing anyone has ever said about you.
  • Are you afraid of the dark? Why or why not?
  • Describe the longest amount of time you have ever been away from home.
  • Write about a recent adventure or travels.
  • Who did you idolize growing up?
  • Name a celebrity or famous person you wish would take you out on a date.
  • Describe your daily routine when you get out of bed in the morning.
  • What was the longest amount of time you have spent waiting on line for something? What was it, and was it worth the wait?
  • Name one thing you have always been good at doing.
  • What is your favorite season, and why?
  • What was the title of the last book you read?
  • List your biggest regrets.
  • Have you ever seen a ghost?
  • Describe your note-taking style and habits.
  • Do you believe that we are all here for a reason? What might the reason be?
  • What comes to mind when someone uses the phrase prolonging the magic?
  • Have you ever done something just to feel the danger, or to feel alive?
  • What is your favorite cliche?
  • What are all your thoughts on god?
  • How do rainy days make you feel?
  • What is the most amount of money you have had at one time?
  • Write a celebrity crush list.
  • What is the most amazing thing you have ever seen, heard, or experienced?
  • What effect does music have on you?
  • What did you learn today? What did you learn yesterday?
  • What 5 traits do people first notice when they meet you for the first time?
  • Have you ever carved your name or initials into a tree or stone?
  • Democracy, communism, or socialism? Defend your choice.
  • Does Never Never Land really exist?
  • Where is a great place to get breakfast?
  • List 3 things that went right (or wrong) today.
  • What is the best method of travel, and in what ways have you traveled?
  • If you could give the world just one thing, what would it be?
  • What were your best and worst subjects in school or college?
  • Describe the most outrageous thing anyone has dared you to do.
  • Ice cream: chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry?
  • What historical events happened the year you were born?
  • Pick up a random object that has special meaning to you and describe it in as much detail as possible.
  • Write about a recent visit to a museum or art gallery.
  • What food items do you consider staples in a well-balanced diet?
  • Describe your feelings in regards to an issue in today’s society, and what would be done to fix it.
  • If you had only one wish, what would you wish for?
  • If you could tell the world just one thing, what would you say?
  • Share a dirty little secret about yourself (or someone else).
  • Name a time when you broke a rule or law. Did you get caught, or did you get away with it?
  • Have you ever gone skinny dipping?
  • Name something you would like to devote more time to seeing or doing.
  • What is the name of your favorite book, magazine, or publication?
  • Describe your first car.
  • Thunderstorms: Inspiring or scary?
  • Name one thing that has always fascinated you.
  • What is the most valuable item or largest sum of money you have ever found?
  • Name one thing in your life you hope you never have to see or encounter.
  • Growing up, what career goals or dreams of accomplishments did you have? Did any of them come to be, how many did you abandon or revise along the way?
  • Write about a time in your life when things weren’t the way you or others thought they should be.
  • Describe an odd or unusual writing habit or ritual you or someone you know has. (Here are some Unusual Writing Habits.)
  • Can a book really be judged by its cover? Explain in as much detail as possible why or why not.
  • Describe a moment in your life you laughed so hard you cried, had a drink come out your nose, or peed in your pants.
  • Detail the greatest prank you have ever pulled off successfully.
  • What musical medium did you grow up with; vinyl records, CD’s, or MP3’s?
  • How long was your longest inter-personal relationship? Was it friendship, family, romantic, or something else?
  • What is your biggest ambition in life?
  • What is your lucky number, and why is it so lucky?
  • How long have you been able to live off the grid? No e-mail, Internet, electricity, running water, etc.
  • What is your favorite chess piece?
  • Do you have a daily or weekly routine that you follow?
  • What is the worst event in history to have ever taken place, in your opinion? Could something like this possibly happen again?
  • How would you classify your ideal living or working situation?
  • Who in your life has been the best positive influence on your life?
  • What things do you enjoy most in your life?
  • Is there anything you, ‘just know’ and have no explainable or rational way to explain how you know it?
  • What was the most intimate or personal question you have ever asked someone, or have been asked of you?
  • What Lo-Fi or non-electronic / old-school things from the past do you still enjoy?
  • Describe your first intimate experience.
  • If you could start your life over from birth, what is the one thing you would change about yourself?
  • Have you ever wanted to trade places with someone else for a day, week, or a lifetime? If so, who was it and why?
  • Name something you’ve always wanted that you will never ever have.
  • Describe a time in your life when you were lost (figuratively or not).
  • Do you believe the end of the world will come to pass during your lifetime?
  • If you could choose to believe in Science or religion, which would you choose and why?
  • Is there ever justification for revenge? What things in your life have made you vengeful?
  • Have you ever risked your life to save the life of someone else? Would you if the situation arose?
  • What is your biggest insecurity?
  • In your own opinion, what is the greatest downfall of modern society.
  • How long have you gone without something necessary to your survival (food, shelter, water, sleep, or clothing)?
  • Assuming you’ve lost your virginity, at what age did you lose it?
  • Are you or someone else the black sheep of the family?
  • Is beauty skin deep or does it come from somewhere else?
  • How good are you at keeping secrets? Spill 5 closely-guarded secrets.
  • Did you ever have your own ‘special place’ as a child?
  • What are your beliefs in regards to cosmetic or plastic surgery?
  • Do you believe in reincarnation?
  • Have you ever been homeless, or had no place to call your home?
  • Has anyone (besides yourself) ever read your journal, either with or without your permission?
  • What rumor(s) were spread about you? Were any of them true?
  • What are the best and worst memories of childhood?
  • Have you ever had a crush on an authority figure (i.e. boss, teacher, etc.).
  • Have you ever felt as if you were a failure or somehow ‘failed’ someone you care about?
  • Do you have any irrational fears?
  • Describe your relationships with your family/friends/parents/significant other.

These prompts are subject to copyright; reuse by permission only.


  • Louise Ducote

    Wonderful, evocative prompts! Thank you for taking time to put this together. I first heard of your prompts through yeah write’s summer series. With twenty or thirty bloggers writing from the same prompt each week on a moderated grid, I expected to see a homogeneity to the posts — but it was just the opposite. The prompts served as a launching place for some of the best writing I’ve seen from that grid. Then along comes NaBloPoMo and I remembered your list. I used #103 earlier this week and I’m sure I’ll use more before the month ends. Thank you!

    • Thomas

      You’re so very welcome! A first-time writer will focus on the monetary benefit of having their writing appreciated. An experienced writer like myself appreciates personal reactions far more than monetary gain.

  • lisapellegrene

    3 favorites on this list! 1) favorite childhood memory, 2) if you could invent something that you need what would it be and 3) the most amazing memory (paraphrasing), one of my most amazing memories was seeing a herd of bison run freely at sunset in Utah. Beyond words beautiful. This is a great list of writing prompts for people!!!

  • Lisa Pellegrene

    #29, My first job, trying to think of what was actually the very first one. Very first, my lemonade stand with my little brother, I was quite the entrepreneur even then! Wanting to have multiple products for a bigger margin and more joy to those purchasing lemonade, I made cookies!!!After this a clothing store called Foxmoor (we are going way back, I think I was 17), then selling spring break trips to Daytona which I enjoyed, I was 18 hung the signs around campus, “Daytona for x amt of dollars”, when the students called I signed them up, processed payments and then when I saw all of the students on a bus to Daytona I felt a sense of accomplishment …making spring break kids dreams come true to enjoy the beach 🙂 I remember vividly designing my signs and hanging them around campus. I thought this is quite fun.

    I love this post of yours Thomas. It prompts thoughts and memories that few think of each day, if at all! That’s a good list!

  • MarlaPaige

    You’re trying to torment me! I feel the need to write ALL of these! I just was saying that I wasn’t writing because I had any ideas, I was just writing because I really felt like it. Now….I have to write for the next ten years. Thanks…

    Why do you give me such a challenge? You know I can’t say no!

  • tugster

    Thomas – I appreciate these prompts, but I use a different starting point: photos. Since I take photos primarily of workboats, a photo or a set of them works as inspiration. In fact, as I shoot photos, the text begins to take shape in my head. As I said at the outset, your list is great, and some people might have a different sort of starting point.

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