Journal Prompts (what’s next?)

The alarm rang at 3:30 a.m. The ride to the airport would leave in an hour, so I struggled out of sleep and into the shower. On the ride to Chicago’s airport the sky shifted from black to dark blue, moving silhouettes to three-dimensional forms.

The sky is not yet light when we get on the plane. A truck pushes the plane back from the gate, and the plane begins to roll forward, gathering momentum. Then, as the pilot checks her controls, she brakes and checks the flaps. We roll forward and the plan makes a Haloween-moaning sound. As the pilot hits the brakes, the plane slews and squeals. My stomach lurches. That’s not supposed to happen. The pilot’s voice comes on the intercom, “We seem to have a problem in the auto-brake, and while we can take off without using it, we can’t land again at National without it. And the runway at National isn’t forgiving, so we’re returning to the gate to have someone look at it.”

I’m grateful for a cautious pilot. But I begin to wonder, and I write down a few questions. They are not meant to be morbid or stir the fear in you. They are questions that we need to answer sooner rather than later. And, of course, they make good journal prompts.

–To live a complete life, one without regret, there are things I must do. Sure, I’d love to travel extensively, but let’s say I have one week left to live. What should I do in that week?

–What important thing must I say to [my significant other, my child] that they must know while I can still say it to them in person?

— If I were on a plane, and had to leave a note that would be read to all my friends when I’m gone, it would say. . . .

–If I had a few minutes left to live on a plane, and there is no one on the plane I know, I would. . .

–Quinn McDonald is a certified creativity coach who teaches journal-writing. See more at

5 thoughts on “Journal Prompts (what’s next?)

  1. thanks for the help
    I had this doubt when I started to write a journal but I was not sure whether I was gonna write a journal or a diary but your answer made it clear so thanks a lot

  2. Pingback: Ezines and Web Magaizines » Journal Prompts (what’s next?) QuinnCreative

  3. If I only had one week to live, I’d spend half of it saying goodbye to my family & friends, then I’d fly to Paris for the other half and be buried next to Proust in Pere Lachaise cemetery. If I only had minutes in a plane and knew no one, I’d introduce myself to the people next to me and ask them to hold my hand.
    Good questions, Quinn.

  4. Those are all great questions, Quinn. Whether we journal them or not, they are wonderful food for thought. When I was in high school, I received a poster as a prize from a magazine subscription drive. It was of a beautiful sunrise, with words something like this on it: Each dawn is a new beginnning. Show kindness and love today, for tomorrow’s chance may be lost.
    I won’t say I’ve always succeeded in that (that would be a horrible exageration and a big huge fat lie to boot) but I’ve tried to hold those words in my heart – much like the questions you have posed. All good things to keep in mind.

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