52 Simple Daily Journal Prompts

Updated October 9, 2020
Boy writing journal using prompt
    Boy writing journal using prompt
    South_agency / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Journaling is a wonderfully meditative practice. It helps you reflect on your day, plan for the future, and get creative juices flowing for more directed writing. If you need specific topics to inspire you, keep reading for a collection of daily journal prompts.

Reflective Journal Prompts

Sometimes it feels like we had a bad day, but we can’t figure out why. Reflective journaling at the end of the day can help you make sense of what went wrong – and what went right! Try out these prompts to finish your day reflectively.

  • What was the most peaceful moment during the day?
  • Describe something you learned today that you didn’t know before.
  • Would you change any of the decisions you made today?
  • How were your meals today? Do you feel nourished?
  • What frightened you today?
  • Who do you wish you had talked to today? How do they improve your life?
  • Describe the moments of frustration you felt today. How would your day have changed if those moments were different?
  • If you’d had another hour during the day, how would you have spent it?
  • Did something (or someone) empower you today?
  • Did you stop yourself from doing something you enjoy today? Why or why not?
  • Reflect on how your body feels. Where are you storing your stress? What put it there?
  • Who helped you the most today? Who did you help the most?
  • Describe your day from another person’s perspective. Is it different from yours?

Aspirational Journal Prompts

Putting your dreams and wishes on paper probably won’t make them real. But using them as journal prompts can help you learn more about yourself, and help get your pencil moving. Check out these ideas for aspirational journal prompts:

  • If you were in charge, what would you forbid immediately?
  • What needs to change in your job for you to feel fulfilled?
  • Write about a hobby that you’d like to pick up.
  • If you could relive any day of your life and change nothing, what day would you choose?
  • How would you like your life to be different in a year? How would you like it to be the same?
  • If you had to live in another country, where would you live?
  • How could you change your life to become a hero to someone else?
  • What was something you desperately wanted as a child? What do you desperately want now?
  • If you could take any college course you wanted, what would you take?
  • Describe your ideal weekend. What would it include? What wouldn’t it include?
  • Rewrite a conversation you’ve had in the way you wish it had gone.

What Would You Do? Journal Prompts

It may seem like you can respond to these questions in one sentence. But if you really think about each answer, and what happens next, you’ll find that the answers aren’t quite so simple. Put some hypotheticals into your writing with these prompts that ask you “What would you do?”

  • What would you do if you found a puppy in the street?
  • What would you do with a million dollars if you had to spend it in one hour?
  • What would you do if you needed to change your career or major?
  • What would you do if you could suddenly read minds?
  • What would you do if you were locked out of your house?
  • What would you do if your loved one were accused of a crime?
  • What would you do if you were stranded on a desert island with someone you dislike?
  • What would do if you lost all your possessions? What would you replace? What wouldn’t you replace?
  • What would you do if you lost one of your senses? Which would be the most difficult one to lose?

Letter Journal Prompts

Have you ever wanted to tell someone what you really thought? Use these journaling prompts to write letters to people who know, people you’ve never met – and even yourself. When you’re done, you can keep them safe in your journal, or send them to their intended recipients.

  • Write a note to a teacher who inspired you. How have you used their lessons in your current life?
  • What would you say to a childhood bully if you could?
  • Write a letter to your teenage self.
  • Put yourself 20 years in the future. Write a letter to your future self with questions and predictions.
  • Write a thank you letter to someone after they gave you a terrible gift.
  • Craft a breakup letter to a bad habit.
  • Think about your first crush or love. Write them the letter you wish you’d sent.
  • Write a letter from someone else to you. What do you need to hear from them?
  • Look at your last few text messages. Rewrite one of them into a longer letter as if you were in the eighteenth century.
  • Write a letter to someone you’ve lost.

Memory Journal Prompts

Memories can be fun to write about. Other memories can be more painful. But when we write about our memories, we can process moments in a very concrete way. Try out these prompts to write about your warm, exciting, or difficult memories.

  • What was your best age so far?
  • Do you have a memory that should be happy, but instead makes you sad? What about the other way around?
  • When is a time in your life that you felt successful?
  • Think about your best friend in childhood. What did you like to do together?
  • Write about a trip you took where something (or everything!) didn’t go according to plan.
  • Think about a lesson your parents taught you either by doing something well or not doing it well.
  • When in your life have you felt brave?
  • What book made you fall in love with reading?
  • How old were you when you first felt like an adult?

The Power of Journaling

These 52 prompts are a great place to start if you’re in the mood to write. You can adapt any of them into personal essays, or keep them as a type of literary time capsule. To bring journaling into the classroom, check out an article with tips for teaching students how to journal.