Journalling Prompts: Resources for those days when the blank page bites back

Journal writing can be hard. The blank page sits ready, teasing you and your pen. A million and one thoughts swirl around in your head and you can't settle on just one thought or idea. And as soon as the best idea one does float into your mind, you start to worry about whether or not you can get it down and how that will all look on the finished page of your journal. Or perhaps maybe you never get an idea at all, so your page sits blank once more, awaiting the muse. Sometimes it's easier to not write than it is to write at all with all this pressure.

Fortunately, for those times when you feel the pressure, or can't think of a single thing to write about there are prompts. These small snippets of thoughts or questions or pictures help assist you in getting out of the writer's funk and into the writing process. Strangely, collecting prompts can also be addicting... so this week I've decided to share with you a few online and offline resources where you can get some quick fix inspiration to get you writing in your planners as well as meet some groups who are also journalling right along with you.

Creativity Portal
The Creativity Portal is a wonderful resource for writers and artists in general. They have a wide variety of articles on creativity, journalling and various arts and craft projects. However, most of the time I go to this site for their imagination prompt generator. This prompt generator is a random web page that provides thought provoking writing ideas for the writer who doesn't know what to write about. This site includes prompts like, "What is in your car trunk?" or "One thing I want to change now..." will keep your pen moving for hours on end.

Sunday Scribblings
This journalling group also offers great prompts, with a twist. Once a week these guys post a challenge. You then have one week after reading the prompt to sit down, write out your response and post your thoughts for others to read. While they stipulate that you need an online journal in order to be posted on their site, I'm sure you could take it offline and write in your moleskine instead.

Soul Food Cafe
Another favorite site of mine, the Soul Food Cafe is devoted to providing a relaxed and supportive atmosphere to writers and artists. The whole site attempts to look and feel like a real coffee house with it's creative imagery and creative use of pages. Every page has at least one writing prompt or image to spark the muse within and you can find many small nuggets of wonderful advice for advancing your creative passions. The Wild and Wacky Writing Exercise page offers a variety of ideas and concepts to get you writing.

Another online journalling group, Embodiment started at the beginning of the year. Its goal is to get people to write in a physical journal every day of 2006. Members of this community post their frustrations, entries, questions as well as prompts to help others get writing. I especially recommend looking for the "Seven for Seven tag" as each one provides you with a whole week's worth of insightful prompts.

Of course, there are times when you need inspiration and don't have access to a computer or the internet. In these rare cases, (they ARE rare, are they?), I recommend the following books. I've even included a handy link to each book at the bottom of this article... just in case you decide you must have them all.

The Write Brain Workbook. by Bonnie Neubauer.
A relatively new book, the Write Brain Workbook is the ultimate writing prompt book. Each page contains two writing exercises for you to work on each day. The main exercise gets your pen moving and you writing, while the second exercise takes you deeper into the first exercise and expands your writing abilities even more. Visually designed with the help of over 200 graphic designers, this book is a welcome addition to any writing library.

Life's Companion. by Christina Baldwin.
Baldwin's book on journalling not only introduces you to the spiritual benefits and practice of keeping a journal but it teaches you many new techniques to journal your deepest thoughts. The right hand pages delve into her teachings while prompts, exercises and quotes appear on the left hand pages. I'd recommend this book for those of you who are looking to explore the deeper meanings of connection: why we're here and who we really are.

What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers. by Pamela Painter and Anne Bernays.
This book is filled with all sorts of writing exercises geared to developing fiction. It was one of the books my college used as a text book in fiction writing classes and it's one of those books I pull out every now and then for inspiration. There are all sorts of exercises in this book that get you thinking like a writer and developing better prose. I include it here because who says your journals need to be accounts of your daily life or inner minds? Perhaps you can keep a journal of a fictional character or of story ideas to be developed later on in life. Whichever way you go with, this book will help your fiction flow.

I encourage you to check out these websites and maybe pick up a book or two that helps inspire you to write. Writing prompts have provided me with some of the best ideas for writing poems or getting me out of a writer's block. I've even got a small journal filled with my own prompts to use for both writing and art. While you can never truly be without inspiration for writing in this world, sometimes it takes a small, friendly prompt to help break the writer's block and get your pen writing on the blank page. I've only listed a small sampling of prompt sites or books out there (we all know I can continue to talk about what my favorite books and sites are for days) that I enjoy using in my journalling practice. Please feel free to post your favorite prompt collections. I'm always interested in hearing about a new site or book that I can add to my prompt addictions... er, collections.

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And there's always

And there's always Illustration Friday and Photo Friday for artists and photographers. If nothing else there's inspiration to be gleaned from other creative people here. Sometimes all it takes is a single word or image (and relaxing for a moment) to help find focus in our busy lives.


The Write Brain Workbook

I had the pleasure of meeting Bonnie Neubauer on her recent tour to promote The Write Brain Workbook. She was a wonderful person, and had all kinds of fascinating ideas around writing, especially since she came to it later than most folks (writers aren't always born). Her business sense married to her obvious creative ability are a force to be reckoned with. I think the prompt idea is great, even for efforts that aren't really about creative writing.

Great post!

Great Article

This is an excellent article! I'm currently reading "Becoming A Writer" by Dorothea Brande (who is quoted on Soul Food Cafe) and highly recommend it. I also recommend "The War of Art" by Steven Pressfield for a unique and effective presentation on understanding and overcoming the challenges of writing. Both of these books are applicable to the other arts as well as writing.

Thanks for the great article!