One of the most effective forms of self-care also happens to be one of the easiest.
When your life feels a little out of control or like you’re operating on autopilot, sitting down to write is almost a sure way to feel a bit better. You might not figure everything out or solve all of your problems, but the right writing prompt can hold a lot of power, especially when you’re looking to be a little more intentional.
Lots of research points to journaling being good for your mental and physical health. It can help you unwind, find purpose, fight off anxious feelings and even build up your immune system. It’s a pretty powerful activity! One that’s worthwhile, even for people who aren’t big on traditional self-care activities.
“Journaling is a tool to put our experiences, thoughts, beliefs, and desires into language, and in doing so it helps us understand and grow and make sense of them,” according to Joshua Smyth, a biobehavioral health and medicine professor at Penn State University.
That process is significant in working through all kinds of feelings, whether you are experiencing hardships or not. Even if you’re a writer just trying to hone your skills, daily writing with a goal of being intentional can help you in so many ways!
How to start a writing practice
On the surface it sounds so easy, but anybody who has sat down to an empty page knows that writer’s block is real.
Getting past that stuck feeling isn’t hard to do, though. You just need a little help. Writing prompts are an easy way to give yourself a jumpstart on the process. If you’re somebody who likes structure, they’re a great framework. And if you’re a person who wants a little bit of freedom and creativity, they’re a perfect jumping off place. That’s the best thing about writing prompts, they work for you.
While there aren’t many wrong ways to start a writing practice, there are some right ones. There is some research that shows that “expressive writing” — where you write for about 20 minutes for four days in a row — is beneficial.
Other experts advise starting slowly, and practicing every day isn’t necessary.
However you decide you want to start, don’t be afraid to switch it up. There are writing prompts for every aspect of your life. Maybe you want to focus on gratitude, which is also proven to help make you feel happier.
Or maybe you want to reflect on the day, and keep it short, sweet and to the point. With this method, if you use it over a longer period of time, you’ll eventually be able to see trends and help set goals or better utilize your schedule. Even with a short, bullet-point method, you can still implement writing prompts. Instead of following the prompt exactly, let it be your “theme” for the entry. Think of it as a lens in which to view your day.
Another option is to let the prompt inspire you — which is arguably the best part about writing. You never know where an idea will take you or how you’ll find inspiration.
Finally, one of the biggest hang-ups beginner writers face, even if their entries are private, is who to write to. A future self? An unknown audience? Both work just fine, though you might find that one feels more natural than the other. Picking your audience won’t make or break your practice, but it will help you flow and keep going. It may even help you tap into some hard feelings or unleash some creative energy.
The only thing left is to pick your direction and a prompt. Whether it’s for building your confidence, practicing some self-love or finding some motivation, the following prompts are here to help you get started.
- What’s your favorite childhood memory?
- Write about a challenge you’ve overcome and how you did it.
- What advice would you give your younger self?
- How often do you make time for self-care? Do you think it’s enough?
- Make a list of moments that have changed the direction of your life.
- What are three actions you can make to feel your best?
- Where do you see yourself in 6 months? What are the factors you have control over?
- When was the last time you left your comfort zone? What did you learn from that experience?
- Imagine you could not fail. What would you do?
- Who inspires you the most? What are their best attributes?
- Make a list of everyday activities that you enjoy doing.
- Name a time you didn’t get what you wanted. How did it turn out in the end?
- Write about a person who has positively impacted your life.
- When was the last time you were the recipient of an act of kindness? Did you pass it on?
- What are three things you are grateful your past self did for your present self?
- What’s something beautiful you saw today?
- If you could have a conversation with anybody in the world, who would it be with? And what would it be about?
- Make an itinerary for your dream vacation. What would you like to see? What would you like to experience?
- What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? What’s the best advice you’ve ever given?
- What do you daydream about the most? Why?
- Write yourself a love letter.
- What’s the best non-physical compliment you’ve ever received?
- Describe yourself in 10 positive words.
- What does a healthy lifestyle mean for you?
- Which parts of your life do you wish you were thriving? What would it take to reach that point?
- Name three things you’ve done that make yourself proud.
- What unique quality do you have that nobody else does?
- How do you show up for the people closest to you?
- What is your top talent? How did you become good at it?
- Write three affirmations you can use on low days.