Where do dreams come from? Many philosophers, psychiatrists, and other experts, as well as everyday people, have made conjectures about the sources of our night visions. But they remain a mystery.
Some dreams are obvious, of course. We’ve all experienced dreams that are clearly relevant to what’s going on in our lives or dreams that are some reflection of the past. Some people claim they’ve dreamed events before they actually happened — precognitive dreams that allow a dreamer to peer into the future.
Some of us remember every single dream we have. A few of us may even take time to jot down our dreams in a dream journal. Others cannot remember any of their dreams and will claim they don’t dream at all. There are those whose dreams are so vivid that they are induced into sleepwalking, and there are those whose dreams carry the essences of their greatest fears — nightmares.
Some dreamers are so attuned to their dreams that they can actually control a dream while they are having it (this is called lucid dreaming). They decide to fly in a dream, and they are off, soaring through the dream-sky.
Dreaming for Inspiration
Dreams may unlock mysteries, answer questions, or give us new insights. They inform artists’ work, help scientists solve complex problems, and they give writers plenty of fodder for fiction and poetry.
In fact, many famous works of art and inventions were inspired by dreams. In an article titled “Dream Art,” Wikipedia provides a list of artists and their works, which came directly from dreams. Some of the most notable artists, writers, musicians, and filmmakers who have captured dream material to produce great works of art include William Blake, Salvador Dali, Clive Barker, Mary Shelley, Robert Louis Stevenson, Stephen King, Carlos Castaneda, David Lynch, Rush, Paul McCartney, and Roger Waters, to name a few.
Dreams can even provide the answers to complex technical or scientific problems. Sewing machine inventor Elias Howe was having trouble figuring out how the needle on his machine would work, until one night he had a dream in which he was imprisoned by a group of natives, who were dancing around him and holding spears that had holes near their tips. This image finally gave Howe the idea he needed to make his invention work: a needle with a hole at the tip, which was designed much like those natives’ spears.
Journal Prompts and Dreams
If you’ve ever kept a dream journal, then you have some experience with exploring your dreams during waking hours. When you keep a dream journal, you learn to pay more attention to your dreams, and you start remembering your dreams better and in greater detail. Dream journals are ideal for generating raw creative material.
Today’s journal prompts aren’t based around a dream journal, and they don’t ask you to keep one, although doing so is definitely recommended. If you do happen to keep a dream journal, then you’ll have an advantage here, because these journal prompts do require that you remember a dream or two. Yet the main goal with these journal prompts is to add another tool to your writer’s toolbox, to leverage a little bit more of your imagination by paying attention to the messages, images, and signals that your subconscious is sending you when you’re sound asleep.
To complete these journal prompts, you do need to be a dreamer. If you don’t make a habit out of remembering your dreams, or if you rarely remember them, then you might try keeping a dream journal for about a week. As you fall asleep, remind yourself that in the morning your first task will be to write down your dreams. Promote dreaming and remembering dreams by using affirmations such as “I will dream” and “I will remember my dreams.” Then give these journal prompts a try.
- Write down a full account of a dream you’ve had recently. Try to include as many details as possible.
- Think back over some of the dreams you’ve had and try to identify recurring themes. Perhaps you’re often being chased in dreams (or doing the chasing), maybe a lot of your dreams are set in nature or feature animals.
- Identify the people, creatures, and animals in your dreams by describing them. Could they become characters in your next short story?
- Do you ever notice minute details in your dreams? Elias Howe noticed that in his dream, the natives’ spears had holes in them. Try to pinpoint seemingly minor details that appear in your dreams and write descriptions of them.
- Do your dreams ever stick with you throughout the day? Are images from your dreams haunting you as you go about your business? Why do you suppose this happens with some dreams but not others? What are the images that linger?
- Have you ever felt like a dream was trying to tell you something or send you an important message? What was the dream? What message did you come away with?
- If you could construct a full, vivid dream, which you will have tonight and remember in full tomorrow, what would happen in the dream? Who would be there? Where would it take place?
Interesting Facts About Dreams
- The scientific study of dreams is known as oneirology.
- Abraham Lincoln dreamed of his assassination.
- At one time, some experts believed that dreams only happened in black and white. Most people actually dream in color.
Good luck with these journal prompts! Now let’s talk about dreaming and how we can use dreams to inspire our writing!
Have you ever tried to write comedy? It’s not easy.
Artists are often regarded as a tortured bunch. From drug-addled rock stars to alcohol-infused writers, we’re all known for madness and melancholy.
But comics form the ranks of some of the most talented artists in the world. The gift of laughter is a rich one, and writing funny material can enrich your work.
After all, art must reflect life and life is a balance of highs and lows. So for today’s journal prompts, we’re going to work on humor.
Use these journal prompts to bring a smile — or better yet, a giggle — to someone’s face. Who knows? One of these prompts might lead you to write a hilarious scene for your next short story.
- Write about your favorite comedy film or TV show. Who’s the funniest character? Is the comedy physical, emotional, or intellectual? Why does it appeal to your personal sense of humor?
- Think about someone in your life who always gets a giggle out of you. Can you remember some of the funny things that person has said or done, which made you laugh? Write them down.
- Off-the-wall comedy is silly and ridiculous. How do you feel about slapstick?
- Think back on some embarrassing moments that you’ve experienced, especially ones that invoked laughter. Write those moments as scenes and infuse them with humor.
- Many dramas use comedic relief to add balance and realism. Write about how this is done successfully and the positive impact it has on readers.
When you’re writing, don’t forget about humor. Hopefully these journal prompts will help you keep humor in mind, even if you’re writing a dramatic piece or if humor isn’t your specialty.
And always remember, laughter is good medicine! Keep writing.
Did you find these journal prompts helpful? If you use any of these, share your experience by leaving a comment.
Fears. We all have them, and we all have to face them sooner or later.
Some people are plagued with fears that interfere with their ability to live a normal and healthy life. Others dance around their fears, cleverly avoiding those things that give them a nervous twitch. Still more people simply live day to day with minor, almost meaningless fears that are a source of mild irritation.
But how often do we sit down and ask ourselves what am I truly afraid of and why?
Today’s journal prompts might not get you over your fears, but they will certainly make you more aware of them and how they might be benefiting you or holding you back.
Fear and Courage
It’s important to note that fears are vast and numerous. Some fears seem rather silly, such as fear of tiny spiders. Others are somewhat reasonable, like fear of war or death. And there are many more fears in between — fears that are rational, irrational, dangerous, or helpful.
You could boil all fears down into two types: those that protect us and those that inhibit us.
The fears that protect us keep us safe from danger. When you’re walking alone down a dark street and hear a rustle in some nearby bushes, your fear might prompt you to cross to the other side of the street. Fears like these keep us safe, so we should heed them.
But the other fears — the ones that inhibit us — those are the ones that we can work on eliminating. We can identify them, analyze them, and finally, dismiss them and move past with a brave smile — the smile of victory.
Today’s journal prompts ask you to examine your fears. You don’t need to face them (yet). You just need to identify them and ask yourself a few questions about why you’ve acquired them and how they affect your life and your goals.
This exercise might make you a little nervous, depending on how deep your fears run and how willing you are to dig within yourself to unearth the smallest or greatest of your fears.
- What are five things that make you nervous or uncomfortable?
- What is it about each of those five things that bothers you?
- Where does this discomfort come from?
- Write down one thing that truly terrifies you. Is it keeping you safe or preventing you from living the life you want?
- How likely is it that you will encounter this thing?
- Why are you so frightened of this thing?
- If you did encounter this thing, what would happen next?
Try to put on a brave face as you work through these journal prompts. Good luck, be brave, and keep writing!
Got any ideas for more journal prompts? Post them in the comments!
We, the people of the arts, feed off each other.
A painter is inspired by a song. A musician is inspired by a novel. A photographer is inspired by a sculpture.
So we come full circle by inspiring one another.
Journal prompts are a useful tool for getting inspired. When you want to write but find yourself without any ideas, you might think your muse has gone MIA, but ideas abound. You need only look to the arts, where there is a whole world of inspiration waiting to move you (and your pen).
Journal Prompts Inspired By the Arts
These journal prompts get you thinking about the arts and entertainment from a fresh perspective. Instead of sitting back and taking it in, look for new ideas in the art that you experience. With these prompts, you can enjoy a session of journal writing while thinking about the broader community of artists.
- Art is all around. You can purchase books packed with images of art. You can visit museums and galleries. You can simply surf the web in search of paintings and sculptures. Choose a piece of art that speaks to you and write about it. Describe the piece. How does it make you feel? What details give it power or make it captivating?
- Music makes the world go round. Listen to your old favorites or explore some brand new music. Choose a song or album that you have a visceral response to. Maybe it makes you want to dance, laugh, or cry. Write about it. Is it soft and tender? Hard and brash? Hip and groovy? What moves you? The lyrics? The melody? The rhythm?
- Film is one of the greatest forms of entertainment. The audience gets to sit back and snack on junk food while the movie plays and takes us on a wild ride through someone else’s life. We all have our favorite films. What are yours and why? What do you love most about them? The characters? The plot? The special effects?
- Literature is a writer’s home. This is where we eat, sleep, and breathe. And where would we writers be today without our predecessors who, through their art, contributed to the literary canon and years of bestseller lists? Which novels or poets inspired you to become a writer? Which authors embody a voice that resonates in your soul? Which genres are you most drawn to?
- Dance is one of the most under-appreciated art forms. Dancers are stuck somewhere between the arts and sports. But think about this: dancers get out there and do their thing and the only tools they possess are their own bodies. No pens or computers, no cameras, no paintbrushes, and no instruments. You can watch dance performances on TV, in music videos, or simply by searching through YouTube. Watch a few dance performances and then write about them. Discuss how the dance is tied to the music. Make observations about how the dancer brings the choreography to life. Compare dancing to writing. Are there similarities?
Have fun exploring these journal prompts, and keep writing!
Do you use journal prompts for your writing sessions? Do you have any favorite prompts or ideas for prompts? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.
Today’s journal prompts are taken from my book, 1200 Creative Writing Prompts, which is filled with inspiration for writers and includes prompts for writing fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction.
The journal prompts in the book are found in the creative nonfiction section. They urge you to think about your personal experiences, beliefs, and ideas and then write about them. Some of these prompts could be used to write personal essays. They might even inspire an idea for a memoir, a personal blog, or a weekly column.
All the journal prompts are designed to spark ideas for personal writing. If you get an idea that is different from the prompt, go with it. Change the prompts, combine them, and use them in whatever way you see fit.
10 Journal Prompts from 1200 Creative Writing Prompts
- Write about someone you admire from afar—a public figure or celebrity.
- Have you ever felt like you were meant for something, that some event or moment in your life was fated? Have you ever felt an inexplicable call to do something? Where do you think this feeling comes from? Write about it.
- They say it’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. Whom have you loved and lost?
- Tell the story of the first time you earned your own money.
- Sometimes, we use common sense and do the right thing or make the best choice. But sometimes, we learn lessons the hard way. Write about a time in your life when you made the wrong choice and learned a lesson the hard way.
- Many of us have experienced a terrifying moment in which we thought we were going to die. If you’ve ever experienced a moment like that, write about it.
- Think of something you wish you were good at but aren’t. Write a narrative about your attempts to do this thing and how you coped with failure.
- Write about your earliest memory. Include as much detail as you can remember.
- Write about the happiest day of your life.
- Think back to the first time you had a best friend. Tell the story of your friendship.
Did any of these journal prompts inspire you to write? Which one? Did you write in your journal, or were you inspired to write something else? Where do you get your best creative inspiration? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment, and keep writing!
Journal prompts are a great way to kick off a writing session when you’re feeling uninspired.
We all have days when writing ideas are nowhere to be found, but that doesn’t mean you have to go a day without writing.
In fact, on those days when my muse is being elusive, I like to either work through some writing exercises to stretch and strengthen my writing muscles–or I evaluate my writing goals.
Often, this means I spend time making notes about my writing goals to see how far I’ve come as well as where I’m going and how much work I have to do before I get there.
By looking over some of the writing I’ve done about my goals, I was able to come up with ten journal prompts, which are perfect for assessing your goals and aspirations. Do you know what kind of writer you want to be? Have you set any writing goals yet? How close are you to reaching them? What projects are you working on?
These and other questions form the basis for the following journal prompts.
10 Journal Prompts for Aspiring Writers
- As a writer, my dream come true would be…
- The difference between my dreams and my true goals as a writer is…
- The number one goal I want to achieve as a writer is…
- To reach my main writing goal, I need to…
- In order to reach my writing goals, I have done the following things in the past week…
- During the past month, I have worked toward my writing goals by…
- Things that have been interfering with my goals include…
- I can eliminate these interferences by…
- In one year, I will be closer to fulfilling my writing ambitions. I will have…
- Finally, write three journal prompts for next time building on what you’ve already written.
How to Use Journal Prompts to Reach Your Goals
By revisiting these journal prompts on a regular basis, you can consistently assess your goals to see how much you are accomplishing at different points in time. Some of these journal prompts will be useful to revisit every year. Others would be worth revisiting on a monthly or weekly basis.
Next time you’re not sure what to write about or whenever you’re feeling like it’s time to take a hard look at your goals and accomplishments, set aside twenty or thirty minutes and start tackling these journal prompts one by one.
You’ll learn a lot, and you’ll be able to keep writing, even if you’re not feeling especially inspired.
Got any ideas for assessing your goals or suggestions for journal prompts? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.
A good book is a writer’s paradise. At least, it should be.
A book can be an adventure. It can show us the world from a perspective we never could have imagined. It can be a mirror, a microscope, or a telescope, reflecting the world, enlarging it, or carrying us away to far-off places.
Books are extra special for writers. They entertain, inform, and inspire us. More importantly, they teach us our craft.
Lots of bookworms keep reading journals. A reading journal is perfect for a writer, especially a fiction writer, because it provides a place where you can write about what you’ve read and explore it in depth.
Why is this important? Why not just read a book, try to learn from it, and then move on to the next one?
When we take the time to write about something, we are forced to think clearly and critically. The process of writing about what you’ve read will help you understand the text more deeply.
You could simply write a review about whether you loved it or hated it and why. You could also write a synopsis, rehashing the story in your own words. These are useful exercises (and you can, of course, use them any number of ways–such as publishing your reviews on Amazon or Goodreads to help your fellow readers and writers).
Or you could dig in, deconstruct the work, analyze it, and extract new techniques that you can apply to your own writing projects by articulating your response to it.
These journal prompts encourage you to examine what you’ve read from a writer’s perspective. You can explore these in your journal to better understand what makes a story work. Choose the prompts that deal with areas of writing that you’re struggling with. Use them over and over with different books you read and learn something new every time.
- How did the book make you feel? Were you sad? Scared? Intrigued?
- What was it about the book that evoked an emotional response from you? Was it the characters? The plot?
- Did you feel more like an observer or were you pulled into the story, more like a participant?
- How did the author build tension? Write down each pinnacle or event that led to the final climax.
- Was the book a page-turner? What were the hooks or cliffhangers that made you want to keep reading?
- What was uniquely likable about the protagonist? What made the antagonist bothersome or despicable?
- How would you describe the tone of the narration? Was the prose flowery? Sharp? Poetic?
- Take a look at the cover. Did it make you want to read the book? How does it represent the book and/or compel readers? Notice the font used for the title and author’s name. Notice the placement.
- How was the book structured? Did it have chapters? Were they numbered or named? Was there an introduction, a prologue, or an epilogue? A table of contents? To whom was the book dedicated? Who did the author thank in the acknowledgments?
You can also use these questions to better understand storytelling in films, television shows, and other mediums.
As writers, we can learn a lot by reading books thoughtfully and closely and by contemplating them as we’re reading and again when we’ve finished reading. You can always use these journal prompts after you’ve read a book (especially a good book); you don’t have to write out your answers in your journal but doing so will likely reveal many details that you otherwise wouldn’t have noticed.
Do you read with a writer’s eye? Have you ever kept a reading journal? Do you consider yourself a bookworm? Finally, if you use any of these journal prompts to explore a book you’ve read, tell us how the experience helped you see the story in a clearer light. Share your thoughts by leaving a comment, and keep reading!
What is philosophy?
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language.
It is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument. (source)
Today’s journal prompts encourage you to ponder your own beliefs and ethics.
While these journal prompts will inspire you to think about your own ideas and ideals through critical thinking and discovery writing, they can also be applied to other writing projects. For example, use these prompts to write a poem or to answer questions from the perspectives of characters in a story that you’re writing.
Each of the journal prompts below asks a question. Answer one or answer them all.
- What are the origins of the universe? Throughout history, many stories have been told about the genesis of the universe. Some people rely on religion to answer this question; others look to science. What do you think?
- Do you believe in a supreme being or higher power? Are you atheist or agnostic? How did you arrive at your beliefs regarding deity? Have you always held the same beliefs on this issue or has your perspective changed over time?
- Why are we here? Is there a purpose or meaning to life? If so, what is humanity’s role in the greater context of the universe? If there is a purpose to human life, does it stand to reason that there is also a purpose to animal and plant life?
- Fate or free will? Do you believe in destiny or do you believe that life’s outcome is strictly the result of choice and circumstance? What experiences or evidence has led you to your position on free will vs. fate?
- Do you believe in absolute good and evil? Are good and evil counterpoints that are constantly striving to balance each other out? Do good and evil both have to exist or can one eliminate the other for once and for all?
- Are your morals and ethics circumstantial or static? For example, if you believe it’s wrong to kill another person, is it always wrong or are there exceptions? Is it unethical to kill a mass murderer? What other moral beliefs do you hold and what are some exceptions that would cause you to put those morals aside?
- Dystopia is an imagined world in which humanity is living in the worst possible (or at least, most unfavorable) conditions. One person’s dystopia is another person’s utopia: what would the world look like in your version of dystopia?
- Utopia is the opposite of dystopia. It is an imagined world in which humanity is living in the most ideal and favorable conditions. What does your utopia look like?
- What happens when we die? This is a question many people don’t like to think about even though it’s the only certainty in life and the one thing that happens to every single living thing. Do you believe in an afterlife? Is the jury still out? Where did you get your ideas about what happens at death?
You might be able to get several writing sessions out of each of these journal prompts. After all, some of the greatest thinkers throughout history have dedicated their lives to pondering and writing on these questions.
Did you find these journal prompts helpful or inspiring? How often do you use writing prompts? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.
As writers, we are constantly told (usually by other writers) that we should be writing every day (without exception!), but rarely are we provided with details of what we should be writing.
Of course, many writers already know what to write. They are poets, short story writers, novelists, memoirists, literary journalists, and bloggers. Their niche informs what they write.
But poets don’t necessarily want to write poetry every single day. And fiction writers may want to take a break from storytelling. Exploring different types of writing broadens our abilities and keeps our skills sharp. Plus, we can learn a lot from experimenting with various forms.
Today’s journal prompts encourage you try writing different types of material. Just for a week, step out of your comfort zone or take a break from what you usually write to try something new or rediscover a form that you haven’t used in a while. And while you’re at it, try tackling a variety of topics. I bet you’ll be surprised by what you can write when prompted!
If you keep a journal regularly, then these journal prompts will simply provide fodder for you. If not, then try this week-long experiment in variety to see how far and wide you can stretch your writing.
Seven Journal Prompts
Below, you’ll find seven days’ worth of journal prompts. Each prompt provides you with a form to write in and a topic to write about. Feel free to mix and match forms and topics. Be creative, write well, and have fun!
|Day 1||Poem||Nature, seasons, weather, the sea, space|
|Day 2||Flash Fiction||Human relationships, conflict, compromise|
|Day 3||Memoir||One moment that changed your life|
|Day 4||Freewrite||Pop culture and entertainment|
|Day 5||Article||Freak accidents, paranormal/supernatural reports or events|
|Day 6||Short Story||Friendship, romance, family|
|Day 7||Essay||Invention, technology, gadgets|
Remember, the purpose of journal prompts is to get you started with a writing session. Don’t worry if you stray a little from your topic or use the same form day after day. Try to reach past what is comfortable for you and test your own limits. Good luck, and keep writing!
Did you find these journal prompts helpful or inspiring? Do you often use writing prompts? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.
Most writers keep a journal of some kind to jot down ideas, scenes, thoughts, and questions.
Journals can be used in many different ways. However, one of the most traditional uses for a journal is to write about one’s own life. Often, this type of journal is also called a diary.
It’s not always easy coming up with topics to write about, and writing about oneself is difficult for many writers (just ask any writer how hard it is to write a bio). Surely, journal entries can be more than simply recounting the events or routine of each day.
Journal prompts provide ideas for topics that you can use to inspire a journal writing session. Today’s journal prompts are ideal for diarists who sometimes get stuck and can’t think of anything to write about. They’re also great for folks who would like to keep a diary, but don’t know where to start. You could even use these journal prompts as topics on a personal blog.
Who knows? If you keep it up, you may even end up writing a memoir.
Here are five personal journal prompts:
- My earliest memory
- The happiest day of my life
- My greatest goal
- Lately, I’ve spent a lot of my free time…
- I love to…
As you go through these journal prompts, give yourself time to thoughtfully explore each topic. The more time you allot, the more you’ll write, and you’ll find that your thoughts crystallize after the first few minutes of writing, once you’ve warmed up.
Looking for more ideas for your journal writing? Here are a few more sources of inspiration that you can use as journal prompts:
- Look for events or happenings in the news and ask yourself “what if that were me?”
- Build a character sketch of yourself and write a piece about yourself in third person.
- Collect writing exercises and turn them into journal prompts by making them about you.
Feel free to share any pieces you write as a result of using these journal prompts. You can leave an excerpt or a short piece in the comments or include a link to your blog post.
Have fun with these journal prompts, and keep writing!
If you have any journal prompts to share, feel free to post them in the comments.