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Journaling for Creativity.

Journal word games: Perpetual journal prompts

This post forms part of a serialisation eventually building into a complete reference on Journaling for Creativity and the writer's notebook. One that will demonstrate how to journal in order to improve creativity and effectiveness of artists, writers or anyone needing to be creative.

Introduction Contents Techniques About Method Games for Creative Development Perpetual journaling prompts

The game

Journaling for Creativity: Word games: Perpetual Journal promptsThis game is in two parts. The first part takes a few minutes to do, once a week and the second part is done once a day for seven days and then repeats. Once you’re into the habit of playing this game, you should never need to subscribe to a daily journaling prompt program ever again.

The game lends itself to becoming a regular 20 minute journaling slot and part of your daily routine.


How to play

The first thing you need to do is select a statement or question, which will be the focus of today’s game, and write it down in your creative journal.

Which focus statement or focus question you choose to use, can be anything that will generate ten or more items for your list. These can be relevant to a personal issue; your project in general, critical aspects of your project, personal issues or even about finding lists for journaling games.

Examples of focus statements and questions;

Why do I not have time?

The backstory of my protagonist.

Types of personality I have met.

Nice places to visit.

Scary places to visit.

First job experiences.

Interesting alien worlds.

Ideas for lists.


Then, under your focus statement, make a list of everything you can think of that is relevant to that focus statement.

If you are having difficulty populating your list, then use creativity enhancing tools such as cluster diagrams, mind maps, collages, freewriting or sensory maps to find more items.

Continue adding items to your list until you feel every possible association has been collected.

Once you have completed your list, look through it for the following two types of items.

The first type is any item that would form a good focus statement for further lists; for example, from “Types of personality I have met”, you could have “Evil types”. In a future game, “Evil types” could then become the focus statement “Different evil personalities”. Draw a rectangular box around all potential focus statements.

The second type of item are those which appear the most interesting. Draw circles around your seven favourites.

That then is the first part of the game finished.


What you have just done is produced seven themed journal prompts; one for today and one more for each remaining day in the coming week. With a little luck, you have also produced a few focus statements for other times when you play this game.

These themed journal prompts are particularly delicious, because they allow your mind to keep returning to and chewing on the same thoughts each day for seven days. The outcome of which is a slow-cooking of ideas over the week. This continuous consideration by the subconscious also means that by day five it is a good idea to revisit your list, as by then you may wish to change which journal prompts you will use for the last three days.

Important: The journal entry can be in any method or media. Don’t limit yourself to your core discipline when making an entry to one of these prompts.

If you make playing this game a habit, one to be played on a certain day and time each week, then you will never run out of interesting and personally relevant journal prompts.

If you are struggling for a list of new focus statements, all you have to do is just look back through your journal for a statement in a rectangular box and you are away again.



The purpose of the game

The game provides a perpetual source of personally focused and themed journaling prompts. The exact nature of which will closely track the current mindset and concerns of the writer. The use of a seven days theme allows the journaler to tap into thoughts that are slow to appear and might otherwise be lost if jumping between unrelated prompts.

It is also a neat demonstration of how the visual creativity tools we’ve discussed in Journaling for Creativity can be used to enhance the very journaling experience itself; providing a valuable lesson of how these visual tools can feedback positively into the journal, causing creativity to generate further creativity.

Your turn: In your calendar, diary, planner or organiser, mark on which day of the week you are going to start playing the first round of the ‘perpetual prompts game’. Pick a day that you are most confident of being able to play the first part of the game. If on subsequent days you don’t manage to journal about one or more of the prompts, don’t worry, but do try to stick to your weekly date with generating your new lists.



Photo credit: List Favorite Games, by Bianca J.

"Journal word games: Perpetual journal prompts" by Andy Shackcloth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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