The Impact of Journaling
Journaling has made such an impact in my life.
I keep on meeting people who keep on getting the benefits from journaling in their lives too. So I’m going to keep talking about it.
Specifically, today, I want to share with you how you can use prompts in your journaling practice.
For over a year now, I’ve been hosting journaling and friendship meetups – both in person and online. Oftentimes people come to these meetings and they say things along the lines of “I want a journal but I don’t know what to write about.” Or “I just stare at the blank page.”
I think prompts are a perfect answer to that problem.
Start but Stop
Another problem that people tell me about is that they start journaling, but then they can not or do not keep the habit going.
There are a lot of different reasons for this.
One of the reasons is because they’re not seeing the benefits of journaling quickly enough to make journaling a priority and keep pushing through any resistance or inconvenience or discomfort that comes along with starting a new habit.
I can tell you that writing with prompts is a great resource to help get the benefits of journaling even faster.
How Prompts Help
Prompts help shape and influence your journaling in the best way.
Using prompts puts your brain to work solving the situations and thinking about the things you WANT to think about, on purpose!
Prompted journaling helps you go deeper and get to know yourself better.
We’re not all talented writers. We’re not all natural storytellers. My own journaling journey has definitely evolved since the time that I decided I was really serious about it and wanted to make writing everyday a priority in my life.
I can see so much improvement in my journaling and I do attribute much of that improvement to using prompts.
More (or Different) Prompts
If you think that your writing should be better than it is or should make you feel better than it does, you might just need more (or different) prompts than what you’ve been using, especially if you haven’t been using any at all.
If you are already a dedicated, consistent journaler, you might also find prompted journaling helps if you want to take your writing below surface level and take your writing in directions you haven’t gone before.
The agenda for today is to share some of my strategies and beliefs around using prompts and then (because I love Lists of 10), I’ll give you 10 places you can find journal prompts to start using immediately.
The first strategy is recycling prompts. Recycling prompts (or using routine prompts) helps you to see patterns and progress.
This would be especially helpful if you find yourself in some kind of a rut. Or if your journaling seems a little bit repetitive or it just seems to be skimming the surface.
You might really transform your writing practice just by introducing a few prompts or by mixing it up a little bit. The prompts don’t always have to be new. I definitely see so much benefit from recycling prompts.
In case you’re wondering what I’m referring to – I’m not talking about questions about sustainability and re-using plastics and paper.
Recycling prompts means using the same prompt over and over again.
I use a collection of prompts periodically so even if I answered that prompt 3 months ago or last year, when it comes time to use that prompt now, I’m a different person. I’m in a different mood. I’ve had different experiences since the last time that I answered that prompt.
I can see the prompt as if I’m seeing it for the first time.
Sometimes, I think what I’m writing is a brand new answer to a recycled prompt, that I’ve just thought of for the first time. But if I do find a previous answer to that same prompt, it might be really similar.
Noticing Patterns and Progress
This gets me to one of the other benefits of recycling prompts. It helps you see patterns and repetition in your thinking. If you didn’t write those down for you to flip back through and re-read, you may not realize how repetitively you are thinking those thoughts.
Alternatively, If your thoughts have changed since the last time you answered the prompt, that might also help you see progress in your thinking, which is one of the benefits of journaling.
So if you can see,
“oh wow, 6 months ago when I answered this prompt, I didn’t see all my options. I was pretty close minded. I felt pretty down about it.
Now here we are, 6 months later, I asked myself the same prompt. I see a lot of options. I have a lot of hope and optimism about this topic.”
Then, you can give yourself credit for your progress. Celebrate. Really acknowledge the transformation that you created in your own thinking because of your journaling habit.
That’s why I think you should recycle prompts.
The other type of way to reuse prompts is to have routine prompts. This means purposefully and periodically using the same prompts in a routine.
That could be daily, monthly, weekly, annually or any kind of routine or schedule that makes sense for you.
Daily Gratitude Prompt
The routine prompts that I use in my current journaling practice are a daily gratitude prompt: every day, at the end of my journaling session, I write 3 things that I’m so thankful for. Sometimes it’s more than 3 but I always want to write down at least 3 things that are super current.
I think of things that I’m currently grateful for in this current moment like within the last 24 hours or so.
Yes, of course, I’m grateful for my family and for my health, and my home. But those aren’t what I write to answer that routine prompt.
Instead, I write things like “I’m so glad that my husband unloaded the dishwasher yesterday” or I’m so grateful that we had such a lovely dinner with our friends.”
Research shows that a daily gratitude practice like this puts our minds on the path of looking for the positive. If you cultivate this habit, you’re creating a little background program, humming in your brain’s computer, 24/7, on the lookout for what you appreciate. I love using this routine prompt every day.
I have a few different weekly routine prompts that I also love. One is my Manifesting Monday prompt where every Monday I write what I’m manifesting.
For the gratitude prompt, I use hearts as my bullet points. For Manifesting Monday, I use stars for my bullet points.
This weekly prompt is so fun. I love flipping back to see what I have manifested, either within the same week or within the same month or a year later. It’s just really fun to see those journal entries every Monday.
Writing what I’m manifesting keeps what I want for myself at the forefront of my mind so that when I notice little nudges or opportunities to get what I want, I take action on them.
Manifesting Monday is also a way to flip my own attitude about Monday because Manifesting Monday is a lot better than Monday.
Another weekly prompt that I do as a routine is my weekly evaluation – which has also evolved since the time that I started. Every Saturday, I used to write what worked this past week, what didn’t work, and what I am looking forward to next week. I did that for probably about two years or so.
Then, I noticed that prompt wasn’t really giving me the feeling that I wanted. It didn’t really create the experience of thoughtful reflection and optimism I was hoping for.
So, I changed that weekly prompt and now my Weekly Evaluation is: what do I get credit for this past week and what am I looking forward to in the next week.
This is just such a great reflection exercise. Again, it’s something that is the same every single Saturday. It’s a great way to close off the work week and get into my rest, recharge and reflect mode over the weekend.
Monthly and Annual Prompts
I’ve talked about my monthly interview, my Thankful 30th gratitude prompt and my annual birthday list prompt in prior episodes. So if those pique your interest and you want to revisit what those are all about, you can go listen (or relisten) to those episodes. I’ll put the links in the shownotes for this episode at bexb.org/10prompts
Birthday Lists are a great alternative to New Years Resolutions, the annual birthday list prompt is something I do every year on my birthday. I make a list of everything I’ve created and achieved and accomplished since my last birthday and everything I hope to create and achieve and accomplish by my coming birthday.
This is the Release your Resistance podcast, so let’s talk about resistance.
Certain prompts may be “resistance finders” for you. If you see a prompt and think “this doesn’t apply to me” or “I don’t want to write about this” – you may have just found some resistance! It may be a sign to check in and explore a little.
I have trained my brain to be on the lookout for that resistance. Whenever these prompts come up, if my brain immediately says “no, no thanks not for me,” that is a signal that I should check in a little bit. It’s time to explore further.
Releasing the Resistance to Answering a Prompt
I have made it a rule for myself that I’m still going to use the prompt even if I feel resistance. If I get a prompt and the message that I get is “not today. This doesn’t apply to me today.”
That’s okay. I’m still going to write about the prompt about why it doesn’t apply to me today. Maybe it becomes an opportunity to be appreciative that I’m not struggling or there’s no big issue I’m handling right now.
Don’t let resistance to whatever a prompt is stop you in your tracks. Let the resistance be there and then poke around a little. Explore a little and maybe write a few words about the resistance itself. You could even start your response with “this prompt doesn’t apply to me because … “ That could unlock a whole new layer for you!
10 Places to Find Journal Prompts
Here are 10 places or ways you can find prompts for your journaling.
The most obvious one is to get yourself a prompted journal. These are available all over the place. They’re available hard copy, digitally, in any size, format, probably any language that you can imagine.
I have created all types of prompted journals. I can definitely recommend my own.
One of the downsides of a journal that already has the prompts written in (for me), is what if the cadence of the prompts doesn’t match the cadence of my writing.
What if I write a lot and there’s a prompt at the top of every single page, so I haven’t even finished writing today’s journal entry and here I get another prompt.
If that’s the case for you, you could do a couple different things.You could white it out so you have a blank page. I love to use the Bic White Out correction tape. That’s one of my daily journaling tools.
You could just rewrite the prompt later on in the journal or in a list on the back page. You could make a list of unused prompts for a later time.
If you think printed prompts in a journal come way too soon for you, maybe that’s not the right prompted journal for you. Maybe you want to get one with the prompts more spread out so that you have more space to write.
The 2nd place to find journal prompts to write about is in your own personal life. Use today’s “struggles” as prompts a few days out.
As a situation or a struggle comes up, you can write a prompt about the situation a few pages later. I love this so much. This is such a perfect way to give yourself a very relevant-to-you prompt.
You’re basically saying “okay, I recognize that I have some struggle or some drama about this topic that I’m currently writing about today. A question that I have about it or something that I would want to solve for is whatever.”
Flip ahead a few pages and write that question or that thing that you want to solve for on a blank page, three or four pages down and then you just forget about it.
This is so great, because you’ve taken action, but you haven’t really put yourself in a situation where you’re spinning on it and you’re just really getting worked up about it and you’re clinging to it.
You’ve put it down in writing with the intention to think about it and solve for it with a fresh mind.
So, a day or 2 days later, maybe 3, whenever you come across that new prompt that you wrote for yourself, time has passed. You’ve gotten some sleep. Maybe you have more insight. Maybe you’re in a different hormonal situation than you were 3 days prior.
The, you can really answer that question with some clarity and with some reflection. It’s just such a helpful way to use journaling to solve your own problems.
Sprinkle them into a blank journal. I told you that I like to reuse my prompts. So my 3rd way for you to have prompts in your journaling practice is to get a list of prompts.
I’ve got a list to email to you. You can sprinkle those in (and when I say sprinkle, it really just means write them in the margins) or at the top of the pages of your journal.
The way I do this is I just get a brand new, completely clean journal with nothing written in it. Before I even start my first entry, I have my prompts ready to go – usually by looking through a previous journal.
Then, I’ll just use my thumb to flip through a few pages and I’ll write the prompt in the margin. I’ll flip through a few more pages. I’m not counting. It’s not exact. It’s very random.
But I just flip a few more pages and I write the next prompt there.
I keep doing that until I have these prompts that I love and that have brought me so much awareness and so much clarity, and have been tried and tested, sprinkled throughout the brand new journal.
You know what happens when I write in that new journal? A new prompt will pop up some morning and it is always the one that I needed that day.
Whenever I come to the prompt, I think “oh yeah, makes sense that I got this prompt today. This is exactly what I needed today.”
We already talked about routine prompts. That’s the 4th way you can use prompts in your journaling.
Slips of Paper
The fifth way is really fun and tactical. You’re actually using your hands.
Just like the last few, you get a list of prompts (I will email one to you if you need one).
You print them out and you use a paper cutter or a pair of scissors and slice them up into little slips. Each slip of paper has a little prompt on it. Then, you fold them up so they look like little fortune cookie slips.
You put those prompt slips in a little box or a small bag or some little container that you have near your journaling supplies.
Every morning when you’re ready for your prompt, you dig in. You dip your fingers into that box or that bag and you pull out a slip and you unfold it and that’s your journaling prompt for the day.
It’s almost like a little ritual. It gives you a little sense of surprise and wonder and chance.
When I use this method, after I write about the prompt, I’ll fold up the slip and put it in a 2nd box or container because I recycle my prompts.
Once I’ve gone through that whole set of folded prompts, then I take the used ones and I put them back in my little bag and that way they’re all ready for me when I run out. The great thing about this system is you can keep on adding new ones into the rotation.
Oracle or Affirmation Decks
The 6th option that I have for you to incorporate prompts into your journaling is using a card deck. You’ve probably seen these decks at bookstores or online or all sorts of different places. You can get oracle decks, affirmation decks, tarot decks, angel card decks, all kinds of decks of really beautiful cards with really meaningful images, words, statements or affirmations.
What you would do is have your deck nearby with your journaling supplies. When you are ready for a prompt, you could just take the first card off the top of the deck and that would be what you write about that day.
Or you could shuffle them up or mix up the cards and then select a card to be your prompt of the day.
I love the idea of using a deck as a journal prompt, because they’re so artistic. They’re beautiful. Someone else has written the words for you. So you get a little bit of external influence, especially if it’s along a theme that you really value or care about.
Again, this method creates a little bit of a ritual within your journaling practice.
Template or Form
Going to the complete other side: the 7th idea that I have for you is the polar opposite of having a beautiful, spiritual deck with artwork and this method is to have a template or a form. This method is super practical and super standardized.
I’ve talked before about how, for a while, I was keeping a quick entry journal on my phone in a little app. Every day I would get a reminder and I would just open the app and it would have a template of six or seven quick entry questions and I could answer with short or one word answers.
I really loved that form of journaling for a while.
If you don’t have a lot of time to journal or you don’t like your handwriting, or you don’t want a book laying around that anyone could open and read, using a little template on your phone or device lets you keep a record of how you’re feeling and what you’re doing and thinking about.
Monthly Interview Questions
The other way that I use this template or form method is my monthly interview. You can go back and listen to the episode where I describe how I have a series of probably like 9 questions on a printed form and I go through the interview with myself once a month and then tape that form into my journal wherever it goes chronologically.
There is a notebook with this monthly interview template so you could get that if you want to keep all the monthly interviews in one collection.
The 8th way that you can incorporate prompts into your journaling practice is to find a Facebook group that gives you daily journal prompts. I host a Facebook group called Journaling and Friendship.
Every morning a new journaling prompt pops up for you. Some people like to answer the prompts in the group. It’s a fun public way of journaling.
But that’s certainly not expected or required. Some people just comment, “this was a good prompt” or they’ll just do a like or a love to show that they saw it and that they used it.
Some people probably don’t even journal about those prompts, they just think about them throughout the day. It might just be a good thought exercise.
The facebook group is another way that you can incorporate prompts into your life because at least whenever you log into Facebook every day, you’ll get to see a journaling prompt.
Books, Podcasts, Courses, Programs
The 9th suggestion I have for you about how you can incorporate prompts into your journaling practice is you can find prompts almost everywhere nowadays.
I have read them in books. I have heard them on podcasts.There are courses that offer prompts as part of the curriculum, like as homework or “continue this topic on your own.”
I’m in a program and a big part of the membership is that it comes with prompts around that week’s topics.
The advice here is just look around. Now that you’ve heard me talking about the benefits of using prompts in journaling, I bet you can find a lot of sources that will provide you with prompts.
Weekly Prompts Emailed to You
The number 10 way that you can introduce or incorporate prompts into your journaling is a new weekly email series I’m starting for you so that you can get a weekly journaling check in every Sunday.
It’s free to join.
Every Sunday I’ll send you an email that will either have a mantra for the month or it will have some prompts you can think about this week or some affirmations or maybe some journaling tips or information.
So this is another way that you can get very, very light accountability and a reminder to journal.
I will use this weekly email to announce upcoming journaling meetups or upcoming journaling workshops or events.
Of course I’ll point out featured journals and notebooks that you may want for your journaling practice. Get on the email list at bexb.org/weekly
Whew! We covered a lot today!
Now you know how using journaling prompts can help you go deeper in your own journaling and maybe even improve or evolve your journaling experience.
Consider recycling your prompts. And, if you don’t know where to get them, I have a list ready to email to you, plus you can get new prompts every day in my facebook group or I will email you a few prompts each week if you like.
And, you can also use a template or form, you can find prompts in books and podcasts and programs and you can create journaling routines for yourself. You can get yourself a prompted journal.
There are so many ways so I’m sure 1 or more of these will work for you.