I couldn't agree more with this article below from the New York Times. I've been offering online sessions to help people journal & connect during our quarantine. Attendance has been good, discussions have been potent and oh-so-necessary.
Sharing our experience during this time in our history, and recording it in our journals wise and therapeutic.
I'm so happy the NYTimes has promoted journaling at this time.
Happy Inklings! Jill
Why You Should Start a Coronavirus Diary
It’ll help you organize your thoughts during these difficult times, and may help educate future generations.
By Jen A. Miller | April 13, 2020
On March 16, Ruth Franklin of Brooklyn tweeted: “Today has been quiet, sort of, so far. Take a moment and make some notes about what’s happening. Call it your Coronavirus diary, your plague journal, whatever. It’s important. Later, you will want a record."
Ruth Franklin ✔@ruth_franklin Today has been quiet, sort of, so far. Take a moment and make some notes about what's happening. Call it your Coronavirus diary, your plague journal, whatever. It's important. Later, you will want a record. 1:07 PM - Mar 16, 2020 Twitter Ads info and privacy See Ruth Franklin's other Tweets
This was before New York City public schools closed, before nonessential workers in New York State were ordered to stay at home. It was two days after the first two confirmed New York coronavirus deaths. Now, as the death toll rises and this pandemic stretches on, your observations matter, and jotting down your thoughts and feelings may also help you make sense of them. These are all reasons you should consider starting a coronavirus diary right now, even if you don’t think what you’re seeing, experiencing and feeling is important. It is. “People tend to think that some random person’s daily journal isn’t as important as an exchange of letters between two politicians,” she said. But you never know what impact it may have.
“It’s incredibly useful both for us personally and on a historical level to keep a daily record of what goes on around us during difficult times,” said Ms. Franklin, author of “Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life,” which won the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award for biography. She’s also currently working on a biography of perhaps the most famous diarist of all: Anne Frank.
Ready to start your coronavirus diary? Here are some tips to get started:
Know Your Story Has Value
Herbert “Tico” Braun, professor of history at the University of Virginia, said that just starting can be a challenge, especially for those who aren’t writers. “We have to convince ourselves that we’re writing something that perhaps other people want or need to read,” he said.
But the main point of this exercise shouldn’t necessarily be about what other people will think about our thoughts right now. “That doesn’t matter because we’re writing for ourselves to find out how we feel about things,” he said. He doesn’t even like to call them diaries — he prefers the term “jottings” instead. “When we write these words, they don’t have to be great. They don’t have to be perfect. We don’t even have to write a complete sentence at first,” he said. Dawne E. Dewey, head of special collections and archives at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, said that when she talks to people in her community about donating their papers, she often has to convince them. (The Wright State University Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives have asked volunteers to document the pandemic for the library’s records.) They usually tell her that they’re just ordinary people. “Some of the best stories we get are from ordinary people who are experiencing something extraordinary,” she said.
Ms. Dewey has been looking in the archives about what life was like for the Dayton community during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, and sees similarities, things like social distancing, the closing of schools, actions by local health departments. “Historians do use this material,” she said.
Record in a Way That Works for You
Ms. Franklin keeps a notebook with her and writes when she finds something striking or has time: when she’s cooking dinner, when she hears something on NPR, when she’s working at her desk. While she tries to write in her diary multiple times a day (because it’s so easy to forget what happened this morning if you wait to write at night), she isn’t strict about keeping a regular routine. “It’s important not to create additional stress for yourself at this time,” she said.
While she likes to keep a paper record because she finds the act of writing soothing, it’s not a requirement. She’s also taking photos and keeping notes on her phone, and saving sections of the newspaper. But other options include audio, video, drawing or whatever creative outlet works for you. Wright State University has also posted questions as prompts for those who don’t know where to start. For example:
What did you do today (or this week)? How was that different than what you would do on a “normal” day/week?
What changes have you personally experienced (physically, mentally and/or emotionally) since this crisis began
What has been the most difficult thing for you personally about this crisis? Do you think there’s anything positive that may come from what’s happening?
But if none of those work, just write what you want, Ms. Dewey said. “Everybody doesn’t have to be a novelist or screenwriter to do this,” she said. “Don’t worry about grammar and punctuation and what words you use. Speak from the heart.”
Who knows, maybe one day your diary will provide a valuable window into this period. “I have faith it could be useful even if I don’t know exactly how,” said Ms. Franklin. She pointed out that people today collect old postcards and black and white photographs, and that the senders or takers of those things probably had no idea they’d become collectibles. “I envision a yard sale 60 years in the future. I’m gone but some kid picks up my corona journal and flips through it,” she said. “He says ‘Hey Mom, here’s a notebook of someone who was in the coronavirus epidemic.’”