Journal Starters

Some times the writing students do in journals is carefully guided by teachers who prompt them to explore the content of the course. At other times, journal entries can be free explorations of any topic that interests the students. In these cases, journal writing provides an opportunity to explore yourself. As you begin to write about a subject without having previously analyzed it, you begin to sort out your own thoughts about the subject. The value of finding out about yourself is that it helps give you a confident voice. Such writer-based prose helps you develop a point of view, and it provides material that can be revised into reader-based prose.

The following is a list of starting places. If you don't know what to write about, try one of these.

  1. Pick a current issue. Describe variously held positions. Respond to the issue or to one of the positions.
  2. Pick a recent personal experience. Describe it. Analyze your feelings about it, answering the question, "Why do I feel this way?"
  3. Express something that has been bothering you. Try to discover why it is bothering you. Propose a solution.
  4. Describe a place. Discuss the feelings associated with it. Tell an event that happened there.
  5. Describe a feeling and try to discover what is prompting it.
  6. Liken an event, object, or feeling to something different. Try to draw as many parallels between the two as possible.
  7. Imitate someone else's style, but use your own subject.
  8. Copy a saying or short passage from someone else's writing (story, book, poem, essay). Tell what it means to you, how you feel about it, and why.
  9. Explain what you learned about yourself in your first job.
  10. Explain a worship service you have participated in to a person who has never gone.
  11. Create your dream apartment.
  12. Write down every thing that is within six feet of you.
  13. Write about the first time you returned home after leaving.
  14. Describe a process you often go through: brushing teeth, programming the VCR, ordering pizza.
  15. Describe your most memorable celebration experience--a birthday, holiday, wedding, graduation.
  16. Close your eyes and listen. Describe everything you hear.
  17. Close you eyes and feel your surroundings. Describe everything you feel.
  18. Do something you've never done, and then write about it, describing what you did and how you feel about it.
  19. Write down the lyrics of your favorite song; explain what they mean.
  20. Describe something you use all the time (a pen, a fork, the sidewalk) and describe it from a new perspective.
  21. Write a poem.
  22. Go someplace you never go alone--out to eat, bowling, a show-- and explain how you feel.
  23. Explain the plot and describe the characters of a book you want to write.
  24. Write a character sketch of someone you are close to and admire. Describe their appearance, their mannerisms, their speech. Tell a story about them.
  25. Write a character sketch of someone who aggravates you or of someone who makes you angry.
  26. Write a scene in which you say something you wish you had said (but didn't).
  27. Watch an animal for a while and make up a life story about it.
  28. Dream a little. Describe what kind of life you will have ten years from now.
  29. Walk down memory lane. Tell stories of your past experience. Describe people you once knew. Describe places you've been. Tell how you used to do something.
  30. Assume the role of a character in history and write to another character in history.
  31. Compare a modern TV program with a similar one that runs in reruns.