3 Journal Prompts for November

Journal prompts for NovemberDid you know that November is National Novel Writing Month? If you've never heard of NaNoWriMo before you should totally check it out. I love the idea of taking on a big project one month—so inspiring. 

This got me thinking about writing in general (as not everyone wants to write a novel). Throughout high school and college I generally kept up the habit of writing in a journal often. I guess this was somewhat before people just updated their FB status and called it a day. (I kid!) And lately I've been feeling like I might return to that practice. It seriously feels so good to sometimes get your thoughts or worries out onto paper. It's also really powerful to write out those big goals we all sometimes dream up. So, I thought November, being all about writing anyway, might be a great time to start. I'm not going to journal every day, but I do have three prompts I'm going to sit down and spend some time writing about during the course of November. Just for me. Just for fun. In case you'd like to join me, here they are:

1. List 10 Things I'm Super Thankful For

We'll be celebrating Thanksgiving this month, so this is totally seasonally appropriate. Plus I think the exercise of writing (or saying) what you are thankful for is really healthy. Sometimes I feel sort of down, or I might be getting a little bratty/self-absorbed about life. During those moments, really thinking about everything I have that I'm thankful for can help bring me back to earth. 🙂

2. Narrate One Crazy Dream Coming True

I was challenged to do something like this recently, and it was eye-opening! I don't know about you, but I'm a crazy dreamer. Like, I fantasize about being the lead singer of every song I listen to while I run. I am Katy Perry. That's more of a fantasy, but I think sometimes we don't allow our big dreams to ever become more than fantasy to us. We refuse to believe that big dreams can't happen. So this writing time will be all about narrating the present-tense moment when I achieve one of my crazy dreams. Does this mean my dream is more likely to happen? I don't know. But I do think this exercise forces you to think about what you really want, deep down. It's also kind of a fiction writing exercise since it's set in the future.

3. Write About My Favorite Memory From the Year

Can you believe 2014 is almost over?! We still have some time left, but towards this time of every year I start to get reflective about life. And it's healthy to rediscover special moments. I'm not sure which I'll write about yet (I have two in mind, so I'll have to pick one), but remembering the good moments, achievements, or the loved ones in our lives is so healthy. 

Anyone else out there journal? You gonna join me? Or is anyone doing NaNoWriMo this year?! xo. Emma

Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photo edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

  • great timing! i wrote in journals a lot in high school and my first couple years of college and then gradually stopped. i was just thinking recently about how i hadn’t written in about ten years and i got really sad. i had planned to pick it back up and then i saw this post and now i am even more inspired. i wouldn’t hate if this was a monthly feature. haha. thanks for sharing! 🙂

  • I totally agree that journaling can be very insightful, therapeutic and grounding. I need to learn how to make it a habit.
    this may sound like a silly question- do you ever have more than one journal (like a journal for goals, a journal for gratefulness, a journal for reflection, etc…)? Or do you write everything in one book?

  • I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year! Did it for the first time last year and haven’t stopped writing since. Not done much journaling before but I might give it a go – especially thinking about goals and dreams 🙂

  • I will be joining you :)… One of my greatest, most sacred dreams is to write a novel. And I firmly believe that writing (as well as reading… obviously) makes you a better writer. Maybe we can all share little (non-private) bits of our journaling with each other for fun. You could pick a hashtag (or am I just WAY too obsessed with Instagram…)

    This post prompted a question to pop up in my head though! Do you scrapbook like Elsie does? Scrapbooks are another great place for writing… sometimes I fill an entire 8×10 page with words (not the prettiest to look at… but it helps me recall the memory haha)

    Thanks for sharing this project idea! xo


  • I’ve never heard of this, but I totally want to do it! I’ve got a journal that is beggin’ to be written in. Thanks for sharing this!

  • My little sister is a writer (she’s been trying for the past few years to get several finished books published) and when she was younger she completed NaNoWriMo several times. She’s already very motivated and diligent, but I think it was a great challenge for her!

  • Oh my gosh! I’m doing Nano! It’s the most fun thing ever- this is my third year, and I do camp Nano too (Nanowrimo but in the spring and summer).

  • What a great idea Emma, I really like the prompts you chose. Cant wait to get started!

  • Love these ideas. I use to journal every day for more than six years, but stopped sometime during college and decided to leave my blog as my sort of journal/memory collector.

    I was actually thinking about trying out NaNoWriMo, but realized my schedule is looking a bit busy this year. Maybe I’ll steal one of the ideas above as a blog post idea though. Probably the first given that November is Thanksgiving’s month after all.



  • I love these ideas! I love the idea of keeping a journal, and I kept one on and off pretty much since I learned to write, but now I find myself either forgetting or not knowing what to write. I’m actually inspired by #1 to get a journal for my daughter. She’s just learning to read/write, but it’ll be a great thing for us to do together and for her to carry on once she’s writing on her own 🙂

  • Oh wow I had no idea it was nanowrimo this month!! My friend gave me the write a novel in a month book for my birthday TWO YEARS ago, and this is the perfect motivation to do it- so excited! 🙂

  • I’m doing NaNoWriMo for the first time this year, and I’m loving it so far. I’m an engineer so writing a novel is like the total opposite of who I am, then again I’m a blogger too so maybe I’m just right brain/left brain ambidextrous is that a thing? regardless wish me luck!

  • I’ve done NaNo for many years and loved it! Unfortunately, last year was kind of hard. I wasn’t feeling inspired so I pushed myself to write a novel I didn’t actually like very much. I’ve decided to take this year off and start again next year when I’ve had a bit of a break. It’s been such an incredible rush for me in past years, though!

  • Never kept a journal before…but these prompts are tempting me to start writing one… and NaNoWriMo, really? thats cool, learned something new..


  • ah i’m giving nanowrimo a shot for the first time ever! it’s so fun so far.

    and i love these journal ideas, especially the dream narrating one. 🙂

  • LOVE this idea!! I have been tempted to join NaNoWriMo for years, but never have. Must be sheer laziness. But this is a great way to get my feet wet in writing, even if it’s in a less grand way. Thanks for sharing!

  • I love the shout out to Nanowrimo! I’m doing it this year and have done it for the past two years. My novels are terrible, but it makes me feel good just to get some writing done! I like the journal prompts too!

  • Oh my goodness, I was totally just thinking about this. Thanks for sharing this and I am definitely going to pick up my writing/dreaming in my journal again. 🙂

  • I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year! Trying to write 50,000 words of blogs to post up over the next few months. This post really helped and I sat and wrote the Thanksgiving post – what a lovely feeling to have so many things to be thankful for! xxx

  • One of my daily practices is writing down at least 3 things I’m grateful for before I go to bed. It’s a wonderful way to reflect on the day, and I usually turn off the light smiling. I love the other prompts too!

  • I go through phases of lots of journaling/fiction writing and none at all. If you’re interested in writing prompts, you might like the book The 3AM Epiphany. I found it to be an interesting read in addition to being a good reference. As in, I enjoyed just sitting down and reading it from beginning to end, but I can also pick it up and flip to a prompt and start from there. I like that the prompts are intentionally limited to a short period of time, so I don’t feel pressured to come up with something brilliant.

  • I keep planning on getting back into journaling, which was also very big for me in high school, but with everything that I have going on, its very difficult, so I keep pushing the idea way back in my mind. But I think I will start small like with challenges like this!

  • I’m so into this! I used to write a ton and now I never do. I really miss it.

  • Hi Michelle!
    Actually I have several kind of journals: the chronological one (a beautiful book), one for my goals and projects of the year(a power-point presesentation) and certain “special interest journals” (either pp-presentations or cheap exercise books that children use, too). I established them for two reasons: firstly I don’t carry my journal with me, but have some ideas at work f.e. that I quickly put into the presentation. Secondly…I don’t want to fill my precious journal with irrelevant stuff in order not to “profane” it. If I may give an advice: start journaling by using one single book regularly. Time will show if you’ll need to diversify your entries. Have fun! Kind regards, Bea

  • Not to be all proofreader, but this seems important– I think you meant to type “we refuse to believe that big dreams CAN’T happen” instead of “can happen.” At least, that would seem to make a lot more sense given your commitment to inspiring people and dreaming big! 🙂

  • These are great, good to really get you thinking (and thinking positively at that). Might be a good monthly article. 🙂

  • This is a great idea plus it gives me a chance to snag a cute journal from TjMaxx. There are always such adorable journals and I always have to refrain from buying one just because it would look pretty sitting on pretty much anything in my house. I used to journal all the time which is pretty much why I started blogging. Hope your having a wonderful Wednesday!

  • Emma, you have no idea how much this post meant to me. I really needed to see this and do this. Things have been tough lately but there are always things to be thankful for 🙂

    Thank you

  • Thanks for the ideas! I always appreciate journaling and scrapbooking tips. Sometimes I feel like I get into a routine of writing the same type of stuff and it gets repetitive or I don’t do it at all for months at a time. Good timing as well since I just read an article about how writing down thankfulness actually makes you more grateful than just thinking it. Speaking of dreams coming true, I also have started writing down the crazy dreams I have at night. Anyone else feel like their dreams are out of this world?

  • I like Kristina’s idea of sharing some of our journaling tidbits. Might offer some further inspiration to the rest of us. 🙂

  • I think I could do well with 1 and 2…I’ve had a blog that I write in but I’ve not been good about journal writing…I think you’ve inspired me to give it a try again…it’s not like I don’t have at least 100 notebook/journals hanging around in my office…
    Now I’ve got to Jet because I have to check out NaNoWriMo…never heard of that…thanks for putting me back on the track…

  • NaNoWriMo? Not this year. I’ve participated in the past, but it’s too much pressure for this time.

    Rather, like you, I’m hitting the journals.

  • Ooo these are some great journal prompts. It’s been a long time since I’ve written in a journal, perhaps I’ll start with these.

    I even have a great journal sitting on my shelf calling my name. Cheers!

  • I am doing NaNoWriMo for the first time this year, it is really fun but I hope to get some time to sit down with these journal prompts too 🙂

  • I hope you keep posting regular journal prompts! I love documenting life, but sometimes I need fresh inspiration for topics that ponder more than just a day’s events.

    I’d also love to see some journal doodling ideas. I’m not an artist, so I can’t easily generate images. But I do love adding interesting touches to my pages!

  • I just re-started writing a journal last night (although it’s hard to say I’ve started), after maybe more than 10 years. I don’t even remember when was the last time I had one. So, I really loved this post and your ideas. I will be definitely join you on this one and write about the three subjects you proposed. Thank you for sharing!

  • I have journaled consistently since I was in elementary school. It became my outlet into middle and high school. Writing took a backseat in college because I was an English major and all I did was write! I journaled through my first year of marriage and gradually let life get in the way… until I found a “One Line a Day” Journal!


    It allows you to write a few thoughts per day, then the next year you can see exactly what you were thinking the year prior, and so on for five years! Although I may still write an extended entry in my standard journal, it’s so cool to have little snapshots of five years of your life all in one book! It’s a great start if you feel like you don’t have time to journal, because it only takes a few minutes a day, and you’ll be so glad to have it in the future! Just thought I’d pass it along because I really enjoy it!

  • This sounds like a fun idea!

    I remember having a journal back in high school, before internet and facebook and twitter and instagram. I’m thinking about going offline for some time just to enjoy these pre-internet things a little bit more.

  • I’m also a fan of sharing our writings! Maybe A Beautiful Mess can start something like it, simular to the book club 🙂

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