25 Journaling / Writing Prompts to Start Writing Now

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Do you keep a journal? Perhaps you’ve always meant to, but have several beautiful notebooks lying around, mostly empty, because you thought that buying a new journal would help get those creative juices flowing? While the excitement of a new tool can sometimes be the push you need to get into the habit of writing, sometimes it’s better just to say to yourself… “Today, I write” and then simply begin. So pick up a pen or open up a new Word Document or note in Evernote, and try your hands at one of these 50 prompts that I’ve decided to come up with today.

  1. What was the last dream you remember having? Describe it in great detail. Then, write about what you think it could mean.
  2. Who do you most admire? Are they a fictional character, or real? What qualities do you like the most about them? What about their flaws? How do you see yourself in comparison to this person?
  3. How would you describe color to someone who is blind? Or music to someone who is deaf?
  4. What surprises you most about your life, as it is today? What would 15 year old you think of the person you are today? What about 5 year old you?
  5. Imagine you suddenly became your favorite animal. How would your life change? Can you write about a typical day as this animal?
  6. Imagine that you have invented a time machine. What would you do with it first? Would you go back in time or visit the future? Would you refuse to use it at all?
  7. What do you imagine the after life might look like? If you don’t believe in the after life, what would the absence of an after life mean for human beings?
  8. The world is ending in 5 days. What do you do now? Perhaps you try to assemble a crew with a hodgepodge of skills to battle zombies, or make do without electricity. Or maybe you decide that you should just meditate on the meaning of life?
  9. If your life was a video game, what would be the obstacles that you need to get around or defeat?
  10. What is your most prized possession and why? If you had to give it away to someone, who would you give it to?
  11. What is something that you wish you could get off your chest? Write a letter to someone that expresses your feelings. (But you don’t have to send it!)
  12. What kind of technology do you think we will have in 10 years, 100 years, 1000 years? Will technology improve society or be harmful to us? What do you imagine will be the consequences of these new innovations?
  13. How much do believe that your circumstances affect who you are as a person? What kind of person do you think you would be if you were born in a different country? As a different race? As a different gender?
  14. Are babies born good or evil? Or do they become good or evil later in life? Are people mostly good or mostly evil, or, something in-between?
  15. How satisfied are you with your hobbies/interests? Do you get to spend enough time enjoying them? What more could you do to further your interests?
  16. Do you consider yourself an extraverted or an introverted person? Do you enjoy being around people in certain situations, but not others? Do you act differently among friends and family than among strangers?
  17. If you could magically have the answer to one of life’s greatest questions, what would you want to know? Would you tell anyone else, or keep it a secret?
  18. What is something that you enjoy that others don’t seem to enjoy as much? Why do you like it? Why do you think others dislike it?
  19. What would happen if you won the lottery? What would you want to do with the money? Would it change your life for the better, or the worse? Would it have a major impact on you, or not?
  20. What is your favorite memory? Describe it in detail. Why does it still have such a positive effect on you?
  21. If there’s one lesson you could teach the next generation, what would that be? How would you help them to understand the importance of what you’re teaching them? How would learning that lesson affect their futures?
  22. If you could snap your fingers and instantly be an expert in some skill, which skill would you choose? Would you want to pursue this skill in your real life, even if you may likely never become an expert? What’s stopping you from pursuing that skill?
  23. How often do you cry? Do you feel like you should cry more or cry less? What kinds of things make you cry? Do you only cry when you are sad, or do you also cry when happy, angry, or experiencing any other kind of emotion?
  24. What is your favorite holiday and why? What do you think the holiday symbolizes? Is it a religious holiday or a secular one? What traditions does your family have regarding that holiday? What new traditions would you like to create to honor that holiday?
  25. What is something that you wouldn’t want to change about yourself? Is it your kindness? Your intelligence? Your unique sense of humor?

Enjoy this prompts and good luck with your writing!

The Holiday Season and the Act of Giving

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It’s the beginning of December and I’m sure you’ve been hearing Christmas and Holiday music since just after Halloween. There’s a wide range of attitudes towards the holiday season, everything from Mistletoe Minions to Holiday Grinches. I tend to fall towards the end of the spectrum that absolutely adores the Holiday season. I enjoy watching the Nativity Play and hearing Christmas Carolers sing. Don’t even get me started about how much I love Gingerbread cookies.

However, one of my favorite traditions is the exchanging of gifts with close family and friends. Yes, I know that gifts shouldn’t be the focus of the Holiday season, but I just love seeing the look on my sister’s face when she opens my present and I can tell that she loves it. (She was never very good at pretending to like presents).

I find great joy out of giving presents, but I sometimes experience a bit of gift-giving regret when I look at my credit card bill. I am, indeed, an over-spender when it comes to purchasing gifts for my family. That is why, this year, I’m aiming to give gifts that are meaningful, but also easy on my wallet.

Here are some ideas that might get you inspired:

If you’re a Writer…

  • Write them a poem
  • Write them a letter
  • Write a list of the reasons why you love them

If you’re Crafty…

If you’re a Programmer…

  • Program a “Choose Your Own Adventure” game featuring your loved one
  • Create a random generator that gives names all of the great things about them

If you’re good at cooking…

If you’re not quite sure what your skills are…

  • Help out by doing extra chores
  • Tell them you love them and all the things about them that you appreciate
  • Make a gift basket with inexpensive items from a discount store (I like TJ Maxx)

How To Be Motivated

Motivation is something we all want to have. With motivation, we can tackle tough goals and achieve dreams that we may have never thought possible. Motivation makes going to the gym a fun and rewarding experience, while lacking motivation seems to bring our energy level down to the point where even watching a favorite television show seems like too much effort.

Over the years, here are a few insights that I’ve learned regarding my own personal motivation. While you may not feel the same way about it that I do, I hope that some of these ideas may click with you and provide some insight to your own motivations.

Motivation versus Will Power

When I speak about motivation, I’m also speaking about something that some people call will power. However, the reason that I prefer the word motivation is that will power has the connotation of being innate to your character, while motivation is a kind of powerful energy that I believe people can cultivate.

I used to worry about whether I had enough will power to achieve my goals. However, by doubting whether I already possessed enough will power, I was sabotaging my ability to motivate myself.

Motivation ebbs and flows

If you’re like me and many others that I’ve spoken to, your motivation ebbs and flows throughout the year, the month, and even the day. For example, many people find the New Year to be a motivating catalyst. In the days leading up to the New Year, people make New Year’s Resolutions and goals that they hope to achieve in the upcoming year. This is the reason that so many people are going back to the gym for the first time in a while come January 1st. However, many people’s motivation tends to peter out in a few weeks or months.

You may find, as I did, that my motivation is higher at certain times of the day. I tend to be most productive during the afternoon, when the sun is shining and I’ve already had a cup (or two) of coffee.

My boyfriend, on the other hand, loves to wake up early and go to the gym. If he gets up early, he is able to accomplish a lot in the morning before even going to work.

So, think about your energy levels throughout the day. When are you most inspired? When are you most creative or focused? By answering these questions, you can tailor your hardest tasks to the times when are most motivated to do them.

Getting things done when you’re not motivated

Although you may be a morning person or a night owl, sometimes you have responsibilities that require you to be productive outside of your comfort zone. If you have an important meeting first thing in the morning, you better make sure that you show up on time, even if you tend to be more productive in the late evening.

If what you’re working on is important to you, but doesn’t have an urgent deadline, one way to build up your motivation is to start with a small, but somewhat related task. For example, if you want to improve your blog and increase your readership, you know that you need to write frequent blog posts. But, if you’re not feeling motivated to write the blog post, try starting off by brainstorming some ideas to help get the creative juices flowing.

Another technique is to put on a timer and work on the task for 5 minutes. If you’re still stuck after 5 minutes, you can allow yourself to do something else for a while. 9/10 times though, once you start on that task, you’ll get into a flow that helps to motivate you. This is momentum at work.

Ask yourself why a task is important to you

You can’t be motivated to do something if you don’t believe that it’s an important thing to do. If you believe that cleaning your apartment is a waste of time, then guess what? Your apartment is going to end up being a mess. To motivate yourself to accomplish a task like cleaning the dishes or decluttering your closet, imagine the benefits of having a clean kitchen and a spacious closet. What does it feel like? I would imagine the sense of calm that I would have once my apartment was cleaner and more organized. If you can visualize the end result, then you can remind yourself of why the tasks you don’t want to do are so important to you.

 

I’d love to hear your comments about motivation. What motivates you? What do you have a hard time motivating yourself to do? 

 

Sometimes You Just Get Stuck

This is one of those moments for me. I’ve been scanning a coding project that I’ve been working on in Codecademy’s Javascript course, and I have been unable to debug it. In fact, I keep getting the same error. Maybe you have a similar problem. Maybe you’re stuck on how to write the next chapter of your novel, or on what your next priority should be at work. It’s easy to get frustrated, but wouldn’t you rather do something productive?

What to do first: 

  • First thing’s first, before you switch to another task, write down a question that sums up the problem that you are having. You don’t want to forget what it is you were thinking about!

Next… 

  • Think about what resources are available to you. If you have an internet connection you have a vast resource of information to you online. You can even think about a friend, family member, or coworker, who either has experience with what you are working on, or would be a good person from whom to get feedback.
  • Plan to use these resources after a short break from your current task.

How long have you been working on the problem? And how urgent is it?

  • The answer to these two questions can help you to determine whether you should switch to doing something else, and how long you ought to spend time away from the problem at hand.
  • If you’ve been working on a task that should only take 30 minutes for an hour, then you need to give your brain some time to rest. If you switch tasks and then come back to the problem, you will be able to see it with new eyes, and will likely be able to find the solution that you weren’t able to see before.
  • If something is urgent and must be done within the next few hours or so, then you should give your mind a quick 5 or 10 minute break. Don’t stray from your project for too long, or you will find yourself struggling to meet your deadline.

What should you do instead? 

  • The type of thing you do is probably a personality preference. For me, I like to do an easy task that I can do quickly. Being able to check something off of my list makes me feel productive and more confident.
  • You may also want to take a break and watch a funny video, but set a limit for how many videos or how long you will watch them. You don’t want to let a short break turn into procrastination.

Anyway, after writing this blog post, I now feel ready to approach my coding project with a fresh look. Hope this post was helpful to you!

Scrambled Eggs with Sour Cream

Scrambled Eggs

I tried something new this morning, scrambled eggs made with light sour cream. I topped it with chopped onions and some parsley.
The sour cream really bulks up the eggs but keeps them light and fluffy. I only used two eggs in this recipe and two tablespoons of light sour cream.
On the side, I had a slice of whole wheat toast with pear butter and a bit of real butter. (Land o’ Lakes salted is my favorite). I continue to use real butter even though I’m on Weight Watchers because I find that even a small amount of it will help me stay fuller longer.

Bucket List (In Honor of the New Year)

Have you ever made a Bucket List? Some people call these lists Things to Do Before You Die, but I find that a bit morbid. Though I do believe that the term Bucket list also derived from the idea that those are things you want to do before you “kick the bucket.” Whatever you’d like to call it, having a list of things you want to do someday allow you to dream, plan, and anticipate some of the greatest possibilities that life can hold for you.

My Bucket List is in constant flux. Most of the time, I’m adding new ideas. Though periodically I will look through my list and realize that some of the things I wanted to do in the past, simply don’t interest me anymore. Or, rather, I’ve come up with new ideas that are even more important to me. My favorite part is when I actually get to cross something off of my list when I complete an item.

I’d like to share a few items on my Bucket List, and would love to hear some of yours in the comments. 

  • Go to a Murder Mystery Dinner

I love attending plays, but Murder Mystery Dinners add a new dimension to the show by including you. I know that there are several in the Boston area, so this is something that I’m planning on doing in the next few months or so.

  • Create a home bar cart and learn to make cocktails

Holloway Bar Cart

These bar carts by Society Social are simply gorgeous, though a bit outside my price range. (The Holloway Bar Cart sells for $650).

  • Volunteer at an Animal Shelter
  • Learn to make my own cheese

 

What are some things that you want to do for 2015? Let me know in the comments!

Back to Blogging

After a long hiatus, I’m back to blogging. I’m going to really push myself to be more active with posts. I’d like to make this blog into more of a lifestyle blog, where I can talk about a variety of things.

You can look forward to posts about the following:

Fashion and Beauty

Though I’m currently in a bit of a budget crunch, I will include finds that are both budget friendly and things that I may only ever dream about. Like $500 shoes. I think designer shoes are amazing, but I always wear through mine after only a year or two.

Recipes and Healthy Eating

I recently joined WeightWatchers and have been trying out some awesome recipes with my boyfriend. Admittedly, he currently does most of the cooking. I really act as more of a sous chef and help with the little tasks. However, I’d like to step it up and try to make some dishes on my own.

Technology

I have an iPhone6, which I love. However, I’m definitely interested in learning more about Android. I’m a huge productivity app fan so you will see frequent posts about those kinds of apps.

Lifestyle

My lifestyle posts will include posts about the fun things that I do with my boyfriend, friends, and family. I do live in New Hampshire, close to the Boston area, so a lot of my posts will pertain to the local area.

What is your ideal self?

When you imagine what your perfect life would be, what does it look like? Where would you work? What would you wear? Who would your friends be? 

I’ve always loved reading magazines and aspired to be the person who truly lives out the editor’s tips and tricks. I wanted to be that person who hosts parties, bakes key lime pies, and makes artisan cocktails. I wanted my closets to be pristine, filled with enough fashionable clothing to ensure I wouldn’t wear the same thing twice. 

All this imagining makes me feel good in the short term, but then leads to self-criticism when I fail to meet those high standards. While I liked the idea of being that perfect woman I imagined in my head, maintaining that ideal made no sense. 

So, I needed to rework what my ideal self would be. Since we’re all only human, I decided the word perfect should be banned from my vocabulary. My ideal self therefore would be purposely imperfect. With achievable goals, I could literally become my ideal self. Of course, there will always be days where nothing seems to go right. I know that I’ll get angry, cry, and become frustrated at times in the future. By being more realistic about these challenges, I think I can enjoy the person that I’ve become. 

What does my ideal self look like? 

 Well, she eats healthily, including vegetables and fruit. She goes to the gym regularly and also gets exercise by walking her dog. She wears clothes that match her unique style, and can combine high end and low end pieces for a great outfit. When she gets upset, she can take a few breaths and start to feel better. When someone insults her, she realizes that the problem is with the other person. When someone hurts her, she forgives but won’t allow herself to be hurt again. People get a second chance and that’s it. Finally, she surrounds herself with people who love her, friends and family. 

What does your ideal self think and act? Please feel free to leave me your thoughts in the comments section. 

Using Evernote to Simplify Your Life

Evernote has always been one of my favorite apps. I first downloaded it sometime at the end of high school, when I still had a Palm OS phone. I was amazed to see that they had made a compatible version for my phone, since everyone at the time was narrowing their focus onto Android and iOS. Honestly, though, it was a very wise move for Evernote, who was able to produce superb UIs for every iteration of its product.

Lately, I’d been toying with the idea of moving towards a paperless life. As someone who admittedly uses an iPhone, iPad, and Macbook on a regular basis, I am much more likely to stay organized if any information I need is stored in the cloud. Not to mention, I have a horrible habit of accumulating useless pieces of paper, such as receipts, post-its, and envelopes during my day to day life.

To do this, I decided that I needed to revamp my Evernote workflow by reorganizing it. To my horror, I realized that I had over 300 notes, many of which were now useless or irrelevant.

The First Step: Review and Declutter

Since it had been a while since I had reviewed all my notes, I began by going through each one and deciding whether to delete it or keep it. After doing this for about 15 minutes, I started to recognize patterns on the kinds of notes that I tend to want to hold onto. For me, though it may probably be different for you, some of my most often clipped items were articles I wanted to reread, things I wanted to buy/listen to/read, personal documents, career articles and resources, and bits and pieces of my writing.

Second Step: Evaluating Notebook Categories

With each major category, I created a new notebook. By the end of the process, I had the following:

  • Career Reference
  • Apps to Download
  • Books to Read
  • Movies to Watch
  • Music to Listen to
  • Recipes
  • Things to Buy (Shopping)
  • Apartment
  • Financial
  • Health
  • Inspiration
  • Self Improvement
  • Blog
  • Writing

In total, 14 notebooks.

Third Step: Mastering the Stack

14, of course, was far too many to allow myself to easily view all notebooks at once. So, next I tried to see what these notebooks had in common. I came up with 4 major categories:

  • Personal Life
  • Career
  • Writing
  • Entertainment

I then made these each the titles of my Stacked Notebooks. By organizing my Evernote into 4 major areas of my life, I now know exactly where each new note that I clip belongs.

Items such as bills, lease agreements, self-help articles, for example, would go into my Personal Life stacked folder.

Within my Career stack are business cards, resumes, tips on job searching, and other resources.

I store anything that I wish to try out for fun, apps, books, movies, clothes, etc… in the Entertainment stack.

Finally, I place my own writing, whether it be for my blog, my (eventual) novel, or other bits of my creativity into the Writing Stack.

The Final Step:

My final step was to sort all of the misplaced notes into their correct categories and add tags as I saw fit. Tags are something that I think will evolve for me as I learn more about what does and does not work for me.

Conclusion: How Do You Evernote?

Evernote is certainly a powerful tool. With many affiliated apps by other developers and the ability to store almost anything, Evernote is one of the most essential apps. How do you use Evernote? What apps and add-ons do you like to use in conjunction with Evernote? Let me know in the comments or by tweeting me at @cohalls.