The Best Journaling Questions to Use When You Feel Stuck

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Want to journal more but don’t know what to write?

Journaling is one of those things that works so well when it’s done consistently, and so few people actually do it. This happens for lots of different reasons. But I’ve found most often with clients is one of two things happens when they sit down to write. Either they’re afraid they will write something imperfect, or they have no idea what to write at all. I love free-writing and encourage it with clients all the time – it’s amazing what’s hiding in our brains – but sometimes we need more concrete tools and a bit of inspiration, so that’s what these journaling questions are for!

Another running joke with clients is not to buy a journal that’s “too pretty” – you won’t want to ruin it with your imperfect words. So just a plain old notebook will do. 

Here’s my setup:

I toggle between Moleskine and Piccadilly and have both stockpiled in my office closet. Anyone else compulsively purchase office supplies? Just me? OK.

Anyway, don your favorite jammies, make some tea (this is my favorite mug, which my husband bought me for Christmas and promptly stole for his own use because it is superior to all other mugs…)

And settle in, because we’re about to ask some big questions!

The best journaling questions to boost creativity

  1. What are three small ways I can create something new today?
  2. If no one knew I was doing it, what creative outlet would I indulge?
  3. What’s my favorite way to express myself and how can I do more of it?
  4. When I was in elementary school, what creative pursuits were encouraged for me?
  5. What would I create if my only job was to feel fully alive?

Journaling questions to analyze emotions

  1. When I’m with someone who loves me, what does that feel like physically?
  2. What was my favorite thing that happened today?
  3. One thing I’m looking forward to this week is…
  4. Last time I got upset, I thought it was about ______ but it may have really been about ______.
  5. What’s one thing I’m repeatedly doing even though it hurts me?

Journaling questions to learn more about yourself

  1. What are five positive adjectives I’d use to describe myself?
  2. What’s one thing I used to love doing and stopped because it was “frivolous”?
  3. How can I show up for myself today as if I was taking care of someone I love?
  4. What’s one compliment I received that seemed too good to be true? How might it be true?
  5. If it wasn’t so selfish, one thing I’d really love to do is…?

Some additional resources for journaling questions

1. These journal prompt cards for self-reflection

2. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron is filled with amazing journaling questions and insights

3. Same for Walking In This World, also by Julia Cameron

4. These relationship conversation starter cards can also be used as journaling questions

5. This planner (I have it in rose gold) also has some great prompts to get you thinking about big goals, forgotten dreams, and how to create a life you want

The bottom line

Journaling is such an incredible resource for helping you explore your inner world. Writing things down with pen and paper rather than on a computer activates a totally different part of the brain and helps you process things in a more impactful way. Some of these journaling questions might seem like they don’t apply to you, but that’s often just the brain’s way of shielding itself from making an effort and possibly discovering something uncomfortable. It’s worth digging in. 

Hopefully some of the journaling questions shared here will help you bring pen to paper when you’re feeling stuck! Remember, it’s about the process, not the outcome. As humorist James Thurber once said, “It is better to ask some questions than to know all the answers.”

Photo of Emily Shutt wearing red scarf

Emily is a mindset coach and writer specializing in the habits of Millennial and Gen Z high achievers in the areas of money, relationships, lifestyle and travel.

She holds the PCC designation with the International Coach Federation and has been featured in multiple media outlets.

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