Writing prompts provide a launch-point for journaling—but not all journal prompts are created equal.
Whether you’re searching for writing prompts online or in an app store, or choosing a journal with built-in prompts, here’s what to look for to be sure you get the most out of prompted journaling.
Try prompted journaling
Three Features of Strong Writing Prompts
Great writing prompts won’t lock you into a specific topic, scene, or story. For example, we recommend prompts that are not stated in the form of questions, as certain types of question limit cognitive exploration. Likewise, prompts that ask the writer to complete sentences must be open enough to allow the mind to wander.
2) Thought provoking.
To do its job well, a journal prompt should carry your mind and your pen to a place it wouldn’t have gone naturally. Look for prompts that take you out of your normal mindset by evoking memories, scenes, or actions.
Different prompts work best for different types of writing, and not all writing prompts are suited for journaling. For example, prompts that set a scene or provide a character are ideal for fiction-writers. Some prompts are created to support brainstorming ideas.
Be sure to choose prompts designed specifically to enhance a journaling practice.
When to Use Writing Prompts
Try movement-based journaling
A prompt creates an imperative and doesn’t allow your mind to think about the blank page. It can be an effective way to short-circuit the brain’s predisposition to fret about how to start. Some journal writers always use prompts.
Even if you’re a prolific journal writer without prompting, there may be occasions when a prompt is useful, such as to get out of a rut or generate new ideas.
Prompts can help you out of a rut, explore new things, or spark creativity.