Last updated on January 3rd, 2022
Journaling is an essential practice that anyone can benefit from. Journals are like best friends who hold onto your secrets and help you process your experiences. Journaling regularly can lead to a lifelong daily writing habit, but teens may struggle with figuring out how to start. We’ve put together 50 Creative Journal Prompts for Teens to help them cultivate this beneficial habit.
This post was originally published on March 19, 2021. It has been updated to include more prompts on December 22, 2021.
The Benefits of Journaling
Renowned thinkers of our time and generations past frequently kept journals or diaries to record their thoughts, ideas, questions, and observations. Many of these historical journals have now been archived and we’re able to see just how important they were in shaping the thought processes of some of the most influential people in history.
Perhaps one of the most well-known journal keepers of all time was Anne Frank, a young girl who is likely only known to us because she kept such a detailed diary. Of her desire to record her life in a journal, she wrote:
“It’s an odd idea for someone like me to keep a diary; not only because I have never done so before, but because it seems to me that neither I—nor for that matter anyone else—will be interested in the unbosomings of a 13-year-old schoolgirl. Still, what does that matter? I want to write, but more than that, I want to bring out all kinds of things that lie buried deep in my heart.” —Anne Frank, The Diary of Anne Frank
Here are some reasons why teens and adults should consider starting a journal.
Journal writing helps you process your thoughts
For teens, especially, who are going through emotionally tumultuous years, journal writing can be highly therapeutic. Journals are like the best of friends. You can tell them anything without judgment or reprimand. They will hold all of your unpolished thoughts and deepest secrets for as long as you need them to.
Thoughts and emotions can be really hard to process if you don’t have an outlet for them. Writing them down in a journal helps you work through them and make sense of what you’re thinking and feeling.
In my experience, no matter how upset or distraught I am, taking the time to write about the situation—and my reaction to it—inevitably gives it a new context and puts it into perspective. From there, I’m able to see more clearly what I need to do next.
Journal writing increases self-awareness
Journals aren’t just for writing a detailed account of what happened in our day, though they can be that too. While we may start out writing about our day, we will, at some point, turn to the effect our day has had on us. How did it impact us? What did we notice? How are we changing?
Reflecting on these types of questions as a normal part of the journaling process increases self-awareness by putting us more in touch with our deepest selves. Journals provide a safe haven for us to pour out thoughts that aren’t fit for public consumption, thus creating opportunities for learning and growth.
Journal writing helps you form a writing habit
While some people are kinesthetic learners who process everything by writing it down, not everyone finds regular writing so simple. For many, writing for pleasure is a puzzling notion. Why, a non-writer might wonder, would anyone want to write so much if they don’t have to? What is the point?
True, not everyone will grow to love writing or maintain a lifelong daily journaling habit, but it’s such a valuable practice that it’s certainly worth trying to cultivate.
Keeping a journal gives teens a starting point for developing a daily writing habit. They can write about any topic that is dear to their hearts without worrying that their parents or teachers will offer unsolicited (and unwanted) feedback.
In their journals, teens are free to explore and discover their own writing style in their own unique way and time.
What is a Journal Prompt?
But what should teens write about in their journals? For some, the answer is obvious: write about whatever is on your mind. But for others, this answer doesn’t suffice. They may doubt that what’s on their minds is worth writing about, or they may not even have the ability yet to articulate what it actually is that is on their minds.
That’s where journal writing prompts can be helpful.
A journal prompt is a short question or situation that directs the writer on what to write. For the prompts that we develop for My Cup Runs Over, we differentiate journal prompts from other non-fiction prompts with the following distinction: our non-fiction prompts are designed to improve specific writing skills, such as exposition, persuasion, and description, while our journal prompts for teens and kids are designed to elicit thoughts, feelings, opinions, and reflections.
For example, many of our journal writing prompts for teens ask them to reflect on things like their high school experience, their plans for the future, and their use of social media. We also ask them hypothetical questions to get them thinking about how they would react in specific situations.
Why Use Journal Prompts for Teens
Creative thinking and reflection don’t come as easily to some people as they do to others. For those of us who get overly caught up in our logical left-brain thinking, slowing down enough to make observations about the unfolding of life all around us is a challenge.
Journal prompts for teens solve this problem by giving teens short, specific topics to write about. These questions address ideas and issues that are familiar to teens, such as social media, friendship, and their own outlooks on the world. There is comfort in writing about that which you already know well.
Also, unlike some other writing assignments, journal prompts don’t ask teens to do research or find out about things they’ve never heard of. There is no pressure to write a compelling argument or create a polished piece of writing.
The only thing these journal prompts for teens ask them to do is to slow down, observe, and reflect. What’s important to you? What’s hard for you? Who do you admire? What do you wish you could change?
Taking the time to think about these questions and put their answers into words is the first step in a growth process that will last a lifetime. It’s only when we’ve thought about and answered questions like these that our observations can start having an impact on our lives.
So, without further ado, here are 50 of our favorite journal prompts for teens. Use them at home or in the classroom to help middle school and high school students develop a habit of and love for the art of journalling.
50 Journal Prompts for Teens
- Have you ever had to have a really difficult conversation with someone? How did you handle it?
- If you could spend a day with one of your ancestors, what would you ask them?
- What brings you the most joy?
- Write about a time when you admired the way someone took the lead in a difficult situation.
- You have to relive an entire year of your life. Which year would you pick and what would you do differently?
- To you prefer to be in the spotlight or behind the scenes? Do you ever make an exception?
- It’s graduation day. What words of wisdom do you have for your younger self? What’s the first thing you’re going to do after the ceremony?
- If you could live in the fictional world of any book or series, which one would you choose and why?
- Are you a saver or a spender? In what ways does this habit help you or hold you back?
- You’re stuck in an elevator. Who would you most want to be stuck with? What would you talk about?
- Think of an area in your hometown that needs improvement. What would you do to transform it? Describe what it would look like after.
- If you could change three things about the world, what would you change and why?
- What effect do you think social media has on you and the people around you?
- What do you want to be remembered for?
- You want to get a summer job to help earn money for college. Based on your talents, what job would you be best suited for?
- You’ve just won $10,000. Make a list telling how you will use it.
- What are the best ways to give back to your community?
- What is one thing your parents do now that you will never do when you have children?
- What motivates you the most?
- Do you think our society values personal privacy enough? Why or why not?
- If you could travel to any time, past or future, what year would you go to? What or who would you want to see or learn about?
- What’s your funniest memory from your childhood?
- Are you usually on time, late, or early? What does this say about you?
- When you hang out with your friends, do you prefer to stay at home or go out? What are your favorite things to do together?
- Which fictional character do you relate to the most? Describe the similarities between them and you.
- Oprah Winfrey has just called you for an interview. What does she ask you about? Write down how your conversation might go.
- Write a letter to your future self.
- Someone has just offered you a bus to convert into your own personal hangout space. Describe what you would do to convert it into a perfect space for you.
- If you could be an expert on any topic in the world, what would you choose and how would you use your expertise?
- Do you enjoy playing video games? What lessons from video games are do you think are relevant to real life?
- What is your favorite book? What impact has it had on you?
- What’s the best thing you’ve ever done for someone else? How did it make them feel? How did it make you feel?
- Do you have a best friend? If so, what makes them so special? If not, what qualities do you look for in a friend?
- If you had the power to create a new holiday, what would it be, and why?
- What family member do you most enjoy spending time with? What do you love to do together?
- Describe a great way to spend a Saturday.
- Which famous person do you most admire? What makes them stand out?
- What’s your favorite season? What do you like best about it?
- What was your favorite toy as a young child? Do you have any special memories together?
- What are the top five tasks you’d put on your bucket list?
- What would your dream house look like? Where would it be and who would live there with you?
- Describe your best summer vacation memory.
- What is your greatest accomplishment so far?
- What is your favorite place to be alone?
- Describe your favorite food.
- If you were a wild animal, which one would you be and why?
- Write a list of questions to your older self. Save it, and open it in five years.
- What three items would you take with you if you to a desert island?
- What is your earliest memory?
- If you could invent a new technology to do one task for you, what task would you have it do?
We hope you’ve enjoyed these journal prompts for middle school and high school. We’d love to hear about how you’re using these with the teens in your life. Leave us a comment below and let us know.
Want more writing prompts?
Check out these awesome resources:
- 100 Writing Prompts and Story Starters for Middle School
- 50 Gratitude Journal Prompts
- 100 Poetry Writing Prompts
- The Big Book of Writing Prompts for Kids: 500 Prompts, Ideas, and Story Starters to Get Kids Writing
Sophie Agbonkhese is a writer, veteran homeschooling mother of four, and a recovering overachiever (who occasionally relapses). She is the founder of My Cup Runs Over, a site dedicated to helping busy women simplify and enrich their lives, homes, and homeschools. When she’s not writing or debugging websites, Sophie spends her time reading with her kids, gardening, listening to audiobooks, and striving fruitlessly to have a clean house for at least five minutes. She lives in southwestern British Columbia with her husband, Ben, and their children.