Journal Writing: Benefits, Examples & Prompts

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  • 0:12 What is journal writing?
  • 1:23 Benefits
  • 2:43 Essay writing
  • 3:23 Journal Prompts
  • 4:11 Lesson summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Diedra Taylor

Diedra has taught college English and worked as a university writing center consultant. She has a master's degree in English.

In this lesson, you'll discover the benefits of journal writing, including increased writing output. Keep listening and watching to find out how journal writing can improve your critical inquiry, formal essay writing and reflective thinking skills.


Have you ever been assigned to write a class journal? While an informal and sometimes ungraded assignment, journal entries can help you develop other transferable writing skills. So, what is journal writing exactly?

Journal writing is the process of recording personal insights, reflections and questions on assigned or personal topics. Journal projects assigned in class may include your thoughts about daily experiences, reading assignments, current events or science experiments. Journal entries are a form of reflective writing, in that you can use them to consider and respond to something you have read or learned.

However, journal entries should not merely summarize what you have read, nor should they focus only on your feelings. Instead, they should demonstrate your ability to conduct a critical inquiry. The term, critical inquiry, refers to the steps involved in collecting and analyzing ideas or information.

Because journal writing allows you to examine different ideas and writing strategies, it's also a form of exploratory writing. Keep in mind that a class journal is not the same thing as a private diary, in that the writing may be a little bit more formal, although not as formal as an essay. And while a personal diary is private, your teacher may have access to your class journal or require you to share portions with other students.


Depending on the class and teacher, class journals may or may not be graded. But whether or not a journal counts towards your final grade, it can serve as a great place to explore ideas and improve your writing skills, among other benefits.

Journal writing can also provide you with the opportunity to:

  • Become more confident about writing
  • Broaden your perspective about topics
  • Gather material for later essays
  • Identify progress in writing
  • Overcome writing blocks
  • Spend more time on self-reflection
  • Write without fear of criticism

Additionally, journal entries can help to alleviate the stress associated with writing, a task some people find daunting. When you're journaling, there's no need to worry about grammar and spelling or polishing your work. Instead, you can use your journal as a place to brainstorm and form your points. Writing regularly also makes writing easier, which can help you feel more comfortable approaching formal documents, presentations and polished essays.

In relation to reading, you can also use your journal to summarize what you've read, remember important points and organize arguments. Sharing journal entries about the same readings with other students can also serve to broaden your own perspective and understand opposing positions: a key benefit when it comes time to write a finished essay.

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