How to Write a Journal - Journal Ideas

On this page, you'll find advice on how to write a journal, including a trick for coming up with lots of topics to write about. This is just one of many pages on this website about how to keep a journal. At the bottom, you'll find links to related pages with journal ideas and prompts.

How to write a journal - What to write?

You can use your journal as a general record of your daily life. Or you might prefer to focus on a certain topic such as your garden or your reading or current events. You can write about your experiences, your thoughts, your memories. You can use it to collect material to use in fiction writing and poems. Some people keep notebooks next to their beds and write down their dreams.

There's no right or wrong way to keep a journal. The journal is for you, so you get to set the rules. Experiment, try different approaches, different kind of subject matter.

If you don't know what to write about, take a walk and make notes on what you observe around you: the buildings and people or the plants and birds, the weather, the look of the sky, the look of the ground (grass? wildflowers? pavement? dirt/pebbles? what color?), the sounds (cars? birds? wind? your own breath?), the smells (cut grass? car exhaust? sweat? wood smoke?), the shards and scraps that collect in the gutters. In every scene, there are an infinite number of details to notice if you pay close enough attention.

Another way to generate ideas: take a general theme -- let's say, Fear.

Then spend five minutes breaking that theme into subcategories; for example:

  • Things that scare me
  • Things I do when I'm afraid
  • Techniques for overcoming fear, etc.

If you want, you can break some of those into even smaller categories. For example, "Things that scare me" could be subdivided further:

  • Scary movies
  • My nightmares
  • Irrational fears and superstitions
  • Fear of failure
  • People I'm afraid of, etc.

Each item in your list is a topic that you can write about in your journal. With this system, in less than an hour, you can come up with enough writing topics for a whole year of journaling.

If you're looking for more specific journal prompts and ideas, click here.

How to write a journal - Next steps

Click on one of the links below.

How to Keep a Journal - What Supplies Do You Need?

How to Keep a Journal - What Is a Writing Journal?

How to Keep a Journal - Journal Prompts and Ideas

See a complete list of pages on How to Keep a Journal


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