For the past few months, Darrin and I have been waking up earlier than necessary to do some reading and journaling. Not the kind of “dear diary” journals that we all hid under our beds in middle school, but simply “stream of consciousness” journaling—where we write about whatever comes to mind.
Sometimes it’s a prompt from a book or devotional that we’re reading. Other times it’s a story we wanted to jot down or a moment from the day before that we didn’t want to forget. Most of my journal is filled with stories about my successes and failures in motherhood. Darrin says that he’ll write through some of the challenges he is facing as a way to “work through them” on paper. We wake up early. We read. And then we write.
I know that not everybody would jump at the opportunity to wake up early and write every morning. For some, the thought of writing on a daily basis makes them either roll their eyes with or internally vomit with frustration. And that’s ok!
But journaling isn’t the same as the kind of writing we were forced to do in school. Not everyone may be a “writer,” in the academic sense, but everyone does have a voice. And keeping a daily or weekly or even monthly journal is a cool way to put that voice to paper and make that voice, in a strange way, tangible; something you can feel with your hands and see with your eyes.
Writing can help us sort through our confusing and often chaotic lives. It forces our wandering minds to slow down for a couple of minutes—to reflect and capture thoughts and memories that we might later forget.
Here are a few writing prompts to help you if you’re interested in starting a journal. Believe me, I know that sometimes the scariest part of writing is the blank page staring back at you. So to get you started, try choosing one or two of these topics/questions and start!
- What goals or dreams do you have for your life right now? For your family? Are you taking steps to accomplish those goals? Why or why not?
- What was your favorite childhood memory? Why is that moment still so important to you today?
- What is a fear that you have for this day/week/month? What steps do you think you could take to help alleviate the anxiety that you’re feeling?
- Who in your life do you feel like you could turn to for anything (for triumphs, for struggles, etc.)? Why is that person so reliable? How has your relationship with that person grown over the years? What are your most vivid memories with that person?
- What kind of person did you want to be when you were a child? A teenager? What kind of person are you now? What moments of your life impacted you the most as you grew older?
- Is there anything this week that you wish you would have done differently? Anything (large or trivial)? If you could go back and change that moment, what would you change?
- How would your closest friend or relative describe you? If you’re honest, what are your best and worst character traits? What traits are you proud of? What traits might need some daily work?
- Tell a story from yesterday. Even if it’s boring or mundane. Describe a moment yesterday that celebrates your daily routine.
- Write about your first home. Was it an apartment? A house? A dorm room? Who lived there with you? What kind of things happened at that place? How did that place impact your ideas of “home” and what that means?
- What are your favorite things (Yes, I know we like to ask kids this question, but adults have favorite things too, ya know…)? Movies, animals, ice cream, days of the week, dinners, vacation spots, colors, memories from your childhood, etc. Make the list as long as you can, then see if you can remember any stories about each item on your list. Why are these things your favorite? What makes them “the best”? What stories do you have about the time you tried that ice cream flavor? Or the night you saw that movie? Write them down.
These are just a few prompts. Obviously you can write about whatever you want. The page is yours to fill.
So journal. Don’t be afraid of the “writing” part. Tell your story in your own voice. Write it down on paper.
Your narrative, every single moment (the joy and the heartache), has value and is worth documenting.
(And then, from one journaler to another, let me know how it goes!)