JOURNALING · Motivation · PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

How to Write a 5-Minute Journal

When Tim Ferriss mentions his daily writing routine in Tools of Titans, I was intrigued. He calls the routine the 5-Minute Journal.

The 5-Minute Journal is a series of writing prompts that Ferris uses every day – morning and evening- to recall daily highlights and to improve himself for the next day.

These are the 5-Minute Journal Prompts:

Morning Questions

  1. I am grateful for…
  2. What would make today great?
  3. Daily Affirmations

Evening Questions

  1. 3 amazing things that happened today
  2. How could I have made today better?

 

I have incorporated the 5-Minute Journal Prompts into my daily writing routine for ten days. There is already a weekly goals list incorporated into my journal; I was searching for a way to remind myself daily of the tasks that should be completed by Saturday. The 5-Minute Journal Prompts bend to this purpose.

Early on, I would often write in the Evening Questions section that nothing amazing has happened today. It was then that I realized that I associate the word “amazing” with momentous and often unexpected occasions. I substituted it with the word “awesome,” which I associate with any size event or occurrence. That prompted me to change the wording in other places in the prompts to fit my life and the way that I speak.  I would encourage you to do the same.

After a few days, writing the same questions over and over became tedious, so I typed the questions, leaving a space for writing underneath each one. I then printed out a bunch of the pages to glue one every day to my journal. Then I start writing. That has been so much better than handwriting the questions every day.

Of course, if you’re already digital journaling, this series of  prompts can more easily fit into your daily writing without so many steps, and without the tedium of writing the same words every day. Just copy and paste.

What do you think of the 5-Minute Journal?

Peace,

Deborah

JOURNALING

Thoughts on Journal Writing

Thoughts about journal writing

  • The format of your journal is up to you. It can be like a captain’s log (” At 8:00am, I awakened to the sound of bluejays over the Sandish Hills.”); it can be a commonplace book- where all things that inspire you are included; it can be a progress journal to keep track of health, household, relationships; it can be more of a to-do list to help you organize your life with a customizable plan (like bullet journaling – click here for bullet journaling 101); you can even create an art journal and paint, or draw, or create a mixed media book; it can be an historical record for your family. Discover your reason for doing it and plow forward with that.
  • How many journals you keep should be dictated by what you want them to do, plus your own way of writing. There are those who do multiple journals, compartmentalizing their lives – jogging journal is separate from family history journal. There are those who keep separate subjects in one journal -keeping 30 pages for inspiring quotes, then another 30 pages for musing about interesting articles, the next 30 pages might be reserved for ranting. There are those who use one journal, start off with the date and then discuss what happened today, or their thoughts on some subject – a catch-all journal.
  • If you join a Facebook group, or any group, of journal writers, understand that talking about having the most expensive fountain pen or the most fabulous leather journal is more important for some of them than is the act of writing. If you want to collect fountain pens, there is nothing wrong with that. However, assess whether a group that is mostly about conspicuous consumption helps you with your journal writing goals.
  • For those of you who -like me- are introverted journal writers who tend to keep to yourself, and journal write wherever you go, look up once in a while. You might find a fellow journal writer right under your nose. I was writing in my journal while in a waiting room and that was the impetus for a fellow journal writer to strike up a pleasant conversation with me! Who knew?
  • If you journal in public, be aware that some people might think that you are writing about them. Some might be bold enough to ask whether you are or not. It might be best to put away the book at that moment, since you never know what someone will do when they are panicked. This rarely happens, but use your discretion.
  • You do not need to keep your journals if you don’t want to do so. Some journals are meant to carry you through a certain season of life and no further. Some journals might be filled with all the things you dislike and all the people you distrust; re-reading that can be repulsive or unproductive. If you need to destroy  or recycle a page or an entire journal, do so. The thing has served its purpose.
  • If you decide to keep your journals, and they are filled with things that you don’t mind reading, let me tell you what a joy it is to be able to go back and see what you were thinking 5 years ago on this date! Even if you ultimately disagree with the person you once were, it’s still a thrill to see the progress (or a kick in the pants to see how little you have progressed).
  • After a while, some journal writers develop a pre-writing ritual, e.g. setting the tea kettle on to boil before writing, exercising vigorously. Some even have  post-writing rituals. I like to sign the last page of my journal, as if I had just written a long, 140-page letter.
  • Reviewing past journals might leave you stunned. An idea that you think you’ve created recently might be in a journal from years ago; you simply did not take the initiative, did nothing about it, then forgot. It takes a lot not to become discontented at that point, thinking about all the things you could have accomplished between that time and this.  Learn to become a more forgiving person, starting with yourself. (Also learn to strike while the iron is hot!)
  • Too many beginners in journal writing behave as if the thing will be ruined if they make a mistake, need to erase something, or scratch through it. Journaling should be a joy, or something functional for you, not something that produces fear, or seems to intimidate you. Remember that journal writing tools -your journal, your writing implements, your ideal writing environment – are there to serve YOU. 

 

Sincerely,

Deborah

JOURNALING · Writing

Journal Prompts -After Listening to a Music Album

Have listened to a music album recently and wish to write about it in your journal? Here are a few prompts to get you started.

Journal Prompts for Listening to a Music Album

  1. Name the album. Why did you choose it?
  2. Is it your first time listening to this album? If you listened to it before, what spurred you to listen to it again? What prompted you to listen the first time?
  3. Who is/are the artist/ artists?
  4. When did you first hear of the artist?
  5. What was your initial impression of the artist? Has your opinion remained the same? Changed?
  6. How would you describe the genre?
  7. Do you have other albums of this artist? Which ones?
  8. How does this album rank with that of this artist’s other albums?
  9. How does this album rank, in your opinion, with that of other artist in this genre?
  10. How do you think future music will be consumed? – we’ve had records, CDs and now digital downloads. What is next?

 

All the best,

Deborah

JOURNALING

Journal Prompts for After a Concert

Do you need journal prompts after attending a concert? Here are a few prompts to get you started.

Journal Prompts for After a Concert

  1. What concert did you attend?
  2. What is it about this artist that induces you to spend time at one of their concerts?
  3. Recall the first time you ever heard a composition or song from this artist.
  4. Who attended the concert with you?
  5. Why did you attend this particular venue (as opposed to buying tickets for this artist at a different venue)?
  6. Affix the concert ticket (or a copy of it) to the journal page and write about the process of buying it.
  7. Affix any other ephemera (or a picture of it) to the journal page. E.g. A concert program, a piece of confetti shot out of a cannon. Write about its purpose at the concert. What excites or interests you about it?
  8. What did you wear? Why?
  9. Describe the process of traveling to the venue. Was it fun? Why? Why not?
  10. What are your two favorite compositions or songs from this artist? Why?
  11. How many more of this artist’s concerts would you like to attend?
  12. Has this artist inspired you in some way? Describe how.
  13. What do you think this artist’s career will be like in ten years?
  14. Where did you go after the concert? Who was there with you?
  15. Will you ever be able to return to life as usual? (Sure you will. Just give yourself a couple of weeks. :))

 

All the best,

Deborah

JOURNALING · Writing

Journal Prompts for Aunts and Uncles

You are an aunt or uncle and you have read the tips for being the best aunt or uncle ever. Tip number six is to savor the moments. One way to savor the moments is through journal writing.

The following writing prompts are not only to help you capture the moments, but also to help you think through the relationship that you would like to have with your nieces or nephews, whether they are minors or adults.

Let’s get started.

Journal Prompts for Aunts or Uncles

  1. How many nieces and/or nephews do you have?
  2. How would you like them to remember you?
  3. What traditions would you like to begin or maintain in the lives of your nieces /nephews?
  4. What does being the best Aunt or Uncle mean to you? What does it look like?
  5. How can you set aside time to know your nieces /nephews and their goals in life?
  6. How can you help them achieve their goals?
  7. What is your relationship like with their parents (or the people who are raising them)?
  8. How can you improve or maintain your relationship with the parental figures so that you may continue to have access to the little ones?
  9. If your nieces /nephews are adults, what do they need from you now that you did not or could not provide in their childhood (For instance, a routine or act might not have been appropriate for the age or mental development of the child)? How can you incorporate whatever the newer elements are into your relationship?
  10. If your nieces /nephews are adults, what should you now omit from your relationship that was appropriate when they were children, but does not help them to progress today?
  11. If your nieces /nephews are adults, what traditions will you continue from their childhood?
  12. “I feel loved when my Aunt/ Uncle does______.” How would your nieces /nephews complete that sentence?
  13. What are your Aunts /Uncles like?
  14. What have your Aunts /Uncles taught you that you will add to the relationship you have with your nieces /nephews?
  15. How can you encourage your nieces/nephews to write in journals?
  16. Create journals about your nieces/nephews which
    • Record thoughts you want them to remember
    • Capture words or concepts that they have uttered to you
    • Include pictures of them, pictures of them with you
    • Include notes from them
    • Tell them about your childhood relationship with your sibling(s)
    • You present as a gift to them at some point (You can leave the journals to them in your will, even.)

Peace be with you,

Deborah

JOURNALING · REVIEWS · Writing

The Q & A a Day 5-Year Journal and The One Line a Day 5-Year Journal [A Double Review]

Yours truly started writing in both the Q&A a Day: 5-Year Journal and the One Line a Day: A Five-Year Memory Book back in October of 2015. I committed to writing in them for just over a year before putting them to rest. They did not work for the way I journal, but they might work for you.

Both of the 5-Year Journals use the same principle – they are each a “condensed, comparative record for five years, for recording events most worthy of remembrance,” according to One Line a Day.

Each page has Month and Day printed on it; it also has five sections on it. Each section is comprised of a space for a year date and a handful of blank lines.

Additionally, Q& A a Day gives you 365 one sentence questions to answer, such as ” If you were a literary character, who would you be?”

One Line a Day comes with a ribbon page marker. Q& A does not.

Both The One Line a Day Journal and Q&A Journal might be for you…

  • … if you prefer a small, hand-sized journal that can fit in your purse (But not your clutch. I have tried it.)
  • …if you have little time but want to jot something down in a journal
  • …if you do not need much space for writing all your thoughts
  • …if a larger blank page is intimidating
  • …if you would like to have notes from 5 years of your life on one page (That’s the most awesome feature.)

Additionally, the Q&A a Day Journal might work for you…

  • …if you need a random prompt every day
  • …if you are just getting started and you don’t know what to write about yet

Additionally, The One Line a Day 5-Year Journal might work for you…

  • …if you want to note a few ideas for a specific topic (e.g. This journal might be great for guests to leave a note about their stay in your rental space; it might also be a great health progress journal – just enough space for a few stats; it might be your gratitude journal.)
  • …if you want to give it as a present to a child. (The other journal, the Q& A Journal, assumes that teens or adults are using the journal. The questions reflect this audience.)
  • …if you prefer a ribbon bookmark already in the book.

Neither journal might be for you…

  • …if you prefer leather journals. They are made of some kind of heavy cardboard.  (You can have them rebound in leather.)
  • …if you feel like you’re about to explode from all the things you didn’t write because there is not enough space to contain your genius!
  • …if you prefer wide journals.
  • …if you prefer to journal with a fountain pen. (My fountain pen bleeds through both.)

I love the idea of seeing 5 consecutive years of the same day on 1 page. Seeing your progress (or lack of it) is fascinating. The concept is great. I just need more space to write; I like to write anywhere from  2 pages (average) to about 10 pages a day.

Because I was also writing extensively in my main journal, the 5-year journals became a brief summary of something I had already written. The redundancy really burdened me. I began skipping days in the 5-year journals, then writing in them retroactively. It was a mess.

If a 5-Year Journal was my only journal, of the two, I would go for the One Line A Day version. There are no prompts to ignore, so it’s a miniature version of my main journal.

I also feel a little sick to my stomach that I recorded pretty much the same activities on the same days of the year – I had not altered my life one bit. My lack of progress was staggering. And the year had gone by so fast! I might return to this journal one day, just for that kick in the pants.

Peace Be With You,

Deborah

P.S. You may purchase  the Q&A a Day: 5-Year Journal or the One Line a Day: A Five-Year Memory Book by clicking on the titles.

P.P.S. Have you used one of these journals? What did you think?

JOURNALING · Writing

Journal Prompts – a Journal That You Will Leave to Your Children (Heirloom Journals)

Not all journals are for yourself exclusively. Some would rather leave their writings to their children as heirlooms. Here are  a few writing prompts to get you started.

Journal Prompts for a Journal That You Will Leave to Your Children (Heirloom Journals)

  1. Tell your children how much you love them.
  2. List and explain life concepts that you find imperative to know.
  3. What is your name? What is the name of the other parent?
  4. How did you meet the other parent? Describe this relationship.
  5. What are your children’s names? Why did you name them this?
  6. Describe something that is unique about each of your children.
  7. Describe a special moment that you have enjoyed with each of your children.
  8. When were you born?
  9. When were your children born?
  10. Where were you born?
  11. Where were your children born?
  12. Where did you live during childhood? Did you enjoy it? Why? Why not?
  13. Where did you raise/are you raising your children? (Author’s note: The early years are especially crucial to record, since the children might not recall the details.)
  14. Who raised you? What is your relationship like with your parents or parental figures?
  15. Describe your childhood.
  16. Describe what you hope your children will take from their childhood.
  17. Do you have siblings? List your siblings. Explain what your relationship was like with them in childhood and what the relationship is like now.
  18. Describe what you’ve learned from your relationship with your siblings.
  19. Did you have pets as a child? How was that experience for you?
  20. What were your favorite toys?
  21. What from your childhood have you incorporated into your parenting?
  22. What from your childhood have you not permitted in your parenting?
  23. What traditions would you prefer that you children maintain?
  24. How would you prefer that your children remember you?
  25. Share quotes from your favorite people – e.g. relatives, authors, speakers, neighbors, etc.
  26. List and explain books, songs, or other media that you want your children to remember.
  27. What are your food preferences?
  28. What are your dietary restrictions?
  29. Are any of your food choices related to significant family traditions? Explain them.
  30. Quote your children, anything that stands out to you. (Author’s note: It has been my experience that older children ask, “What was I like at the age of X? “ “Did I have a catchphrase back then?”)
  31. Affix notes from your children into the journal and explain the circumstances under which you gained possession of them.
  32. Who is someone important to you that your children never met? (e.g. Their deceased great grandfather) Describe that person.
  33. Explain why journaling is important and why you have given this journal to your children.
JOURNALING · Writing

Date Headers for Your Journals

When organizing a handwritten journal or day’s log, many people enjoy writing the day’s date at the top. To help your eyes see the start of your day’s entry with the greatest of ease, many journal writers embellish the date or create a unique header.

If you search online for “date headers,” you’ll find many ideas in the Bullet Journal community.

Here’s an article from Hannah Emily Lane on “Headers and Inspiration.”

Here’s another from Tiny Ray of Sunshine – “Add Stylistic Headers.”

I have created a few headers below that you can try.  You artsy folk can do it even better.

it's deborah - date header examples - with site logo
Here I’ve dashed off a few headers that, hopefully, with spark something in your own imagination.

 

 

Let me drop a word here. Please remember why you are journaling. Do not spend all your time trying to choose the “right” color or the “perfect” header or you’ll not actually write anything. Make progress, not perfection.  Yes, I mean you, Kimberly. Onward.

Peace be with you,

Deborah

JOURNALING · Writing

Journal Prompts for After Watching a Movie

Journal Prompts for After Watching a Movie

  1. What movie did you screen?
  2. Summarize the plot.
  3. What would you change about the plot?
  4. Why did you watch that movie?
  5. Where were you?
  6. Who was with you?
  7. Were there snacks involved? Which?
  8. Do you have a favorite actor in this film? Who?
  9. What would you change about the casting?
  10. If this is an old film, how would you re-cast it with actors working today?
  11. If this is a new film, how would you re-cast it with actors from the past?
  12. If it is a film from the early 20th century, compare it with the radio version of the film.
  13. Is this film up to the usual standards of this actor/ director/ writer/ studio/franchise? Why?
  14. How was the soundtrack? How was the score?
  15. Did you like the film? Why? Why not?
  16. Does this movie remind you of a different one?
  17. Is this a reboot, remake, sequel, pre-quel? How does it compare to the original?
  18. If this film is part of a series, rank each one.
  19. If this film is part of a series, what do you think is misunderstood about the series or its fans? What do you think is great about the series or its fans? What do you think could be better about this series?
  20. If you watched it in the theater, do you plan to purchase a copy later? Why? Why not?
  21. Discuss the poster art/ cover art for this film.
  22. Discuss the advertising for this film. Did it intrigue you?
  23. Is there memorabilia accompanying this film? Do you plan to purchase any? Why?

 

All the best,

Deborah

JOURNALING

Journal Prompts for After a Play or Musical

Have you attended a play or stage musical recently? Here are a few journal prompts to get you started writing about your experience.

Journal Prompts for After a Play or Musical

  1. Which Play/Musical did you attend?
  2. Where was the venue?
  3. What is interesting about the venue?
  4. Why did you attend this play?
  5. Who attended with you?
  6. When did you first hear of this production?
  7. Do you know people in the play (or behind the scenes) by name? List them and discuss why they interest you.
  8. Describe the plot.
  9. Does the plot (or do the characters) remind you of a different play?
  10. Does the plot (or do the characters) remind you of a different form of art or different discipline in life? E.g. The two lead characters in The Taming of the Shrew remind me of two boxers going in for the kill.
  11. Which actor caught your attention the most? Why?
  12. Which character surprised you the most?
  13. Which character is your favorite? Why?
  14. How were you dressed?
  15. Attach a photo of the evening (such as a selfie taken in the lobby or a picture of the program) and discuss it.
  16. Where did you go after the play? Why?
  17. What play/musical do you plan to attend next? Why?

All the best,

Deborah

JOURNALING · PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

Journal Prompts for Writing about Childhood

Hi! It’s Deborah.

I’m part of a journal writing group on Facebook. One of the members mentioned that he has used old family photos as journal prompts. You start writing whatever the photo brings to mind and get a glimpse into your own mind, or record an old memory. What a great idea!  Especially if you add a copy of the photo on the journal page.

Do you need journal prompts for writing about your childhood? Here are few to get you started:

  1. What is your earliest memory? [The other year, I read What Your Childhood Memories Say about You . . . and What You Can Do about It” by Dr. Kevin Leman. In it, the author posits that since the brain always remembers what happens to you, the memory that you subconsciously select as your earliest one reveals your true perspective on life.]
  2. What is one thing that you enjoyed doing as a child?
  3. Did you have pets as a child? Which was your favorite? Why?
  4. Choose a piece of childhood memorabilia. What stories does it bring to mind? How did it come into your possession?
  5. Where did you attend school? Did you enjoy it? Why? Why not?
  6. What did imagine you would do as an adult? Did you do it? Why? Why not?
  7. What foods did you enjoy as a child? Which ones did you dislike? Do you still enjoy/dislike them? Why?
  8. Write about your parents. What are their names? What are their occupations? How would you describe your childhood relationship to them? How does that compare with your adult relationship with them?
  9. Were your parents great with handling money? Why? Why not? Did you learn anything from the way they handled finances in your childhood?
  10. List 2 people other than your parents who stand prominent in your childhood memory. Who were they? What relation were they to you? Did you enjoy that relationship? Why? Why not?
  11. What were the family traditions? Have you changed any of them in your adult life? Would you like to change the traditions? Why?
  12. If you’re the letter writing type, write a letter to someone from your childhood in your journal. (You do not need to send it. This is simply a device to help you explore your past.)
  13. How is your spouse’s childhood similar to yours? Or does it differ? How have you dealt with this?
  14. What childhood would you like to provide for your children (or future children)?

That might hold you for a fortnight (or longer if you’d rather not write in your journal every day).

Peace be with you,

Deborah