I have recently stumbled on the joy of utilizing writing prompts.

An avid journal writer, I had never seen the true value of writing prompts. I never had an issue finding the words since I mainly wrote about my life, my day, what’s going on with me. I use my journaling to document my life as well as to vent, to think out problems, to (hopefully) arrive at some sort of solutions. My journaling is spread out throughout the day – bits and pieces here and there – as I feel the need to write. And while I see the value in the way I journal and I’ll continue to journal in this way (it’s super therapeutic and truly a part of me), I’ve recently opened my eyes to a new way to do it: writing prompts.

I discovered the joy of writing prompts in a recent free writing class I took with Tama Kieves. If you don’t know Tama Kieves, I highly recommend you check her out. She’s written wonderful books about finding your calling and listening to your inspiration (such as This Time I Dance!: Creating the Work You Love) that are truly worth checking out. During her class, she had us free write using a self discovery type prompt and now I’m addicted.

The key to using prompts is to write (free write) without stopping for a set amount of time, like 5, 10 or 15 minutes. Set a timer and don’t stop until the timer sounds, even if you’re writing nothing but “this is crazy” and “I have nothing to say.” The trick is to keep moving, to keep flowing. I find doing this easiest typing but handwriting is just as valuable. Do whatever works for you. The point is to let the words flow.

By doing this, you may stumble upon thoughts and feelings and realizations that you probably wouldn’t get to any other way. And if nothing magical or insightful happens, that’s OK, too. It’s still good to get your thoughts out. In fact several studies have found that journaling is a great way to reduce stress. It’s literally clearing out your mind.

Below are 50 self discovery oriented writing prompts to help you get started. While writing, don’t think you need to stay with this prompt. The whole point is to let your writing take you wherever it wants to go. Don’t limit yourself. If you start writing about what makes you unique and it turns into complaining about your childhood, that’s OK. Let yourself go wherever your mind wants you to go. That’s part of the joy and liberation of free writing.

Set a timer and go.

What makes you unique?
Write about your ideal day.
Write about your ideal life.
What gift do you wish you had?
What skill do you wish you had?
Describe the best time in your life. What made it wonderful?
What is the most powerful lesson you have learned so far?
Write about your first love.
What are your passions?
What is your most cherished memory?
What letter would you write to your child (or your child self)?
What makes you excited?
Write about a goal you most want to accomplish.
What’s your deepest secret?
What’s your deepest regret?
Write from the perspective of your 80 year old self. What would you tell your now self?
Write your biography – the story of your life.
Write about what makes you feel peaceful.
Write about what makes you feel angry or sad.
How would a stranger describe you?
How do you want to be remembered?
What do you most want to contribute?
If you were given $100 million, what would you do?
What questions would you liked answered?
What is the best way for you to heal old wounds?
Write about an animal you most resonate with.
What would you change about yourself?
Describe your ideal location to hang out.
Describe your ideal location to live.
Describe your ideal location to visit/vacation.
Describe unconditional love.
Write about completion.
Write about self love. (What does this look like or mean to you?)
What would your body like to tell you right now?
What surprises you most about life?
What surprises you most about relationships?
What surprises you most about your career/work?
What did you learn from your biggest mistake?
What did you learn from your biggest triumph?
I feel most energized when…
I walked through the door…
I’m happiest when…
I wish I would…
I always smile when…
If I took a chance in life, I’d…
If I were to live true to myself, I’d…
I couldn’t live without…
My biggest dream is…
My biggest fear is…
What I most admire in myself is…

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