COVID-19 Journal Instructions
You will be keeping a daily journal of what it’s like being alive at this pivotal time in history.
Why? These journal entries could go on to be primary sources later! Think about all the teenage journals/writing that have shed light on important eras in history: Anne Frank, Malala Yousafzai, Ishmael Beah, etec.. Plus, you will definitely want these later when you’re older and our world goes back to normal. Trust me on this one : )
How? Once a week, I want you to turn in four journal entries from life in social isolation. They can be four days in a row, they can be spaced out, they can be weekdays or weekends, but I would like for them to be on four different days because, as you’ve seen, things can change a lot in 24 hours!
Include things like:
- How you’re feeling—take this time to really check in with yourself. Are you scared? Anxious? Calm? Restless? Motivated by a new adventure? Are you wrestling with several feelings at once?
- How you and your family are spending your time on a daily basis. Don’t feel pressured to share more than you want, but with what you do share, be specific! What you may think as boring or inconsequential might be a super interesting detail later.
- Any changes you’re noticing in yourself or the world around you. It’s a good idea to look back at earlier journal entries before writing a new one and compare outlooks. What’s different since you last checked in?
Remember, good memoir writers:
- SHOW instead of TELL. Don’t tell us “I’m really, really, really bored”-- show us “I’ve dusted every surface in my room, cleaned my windows, and trimmed my dog’s eyebrows. Twice.”
- Avoid cliches (or overused expressions) in their writing.
- Let their personality shine in their writing. This includes interjections, honest thoughts, sarcasm, humor, opinions, the works. Unlike with formal academic writing such as research papers, now’s the time to let loose with your creativity and personality!
- Talk a lot about their inner landscape (thoughts and feelings) and their reactions to situations. It’s not all “this happened, then this happened,” but more “this happened—here’s what I think about it, here’s how my sister reacted, here’s how I’m processing it.”
- Use physical description to communicate emotion. Show us Mom’s raised eyebrows when you tell her you burned the banana bread after she warned you three times to check on it. Show us Grandma’s furrowed brow while she’s concentrating to figure out how to use FaceTime. Show us pressure building up in your throat instead of feeling like you’re about to cry. A phrase I’ve heard writers ask themselves is, “Where do I feel this thought/feeling in my body?”
- Think about their audience while they’re writing. Right now I’m your audience, but while you’re writing, think about what you’d want someone years from now to understand about this time. That can help guide your writing to be more informative.
COVID-19 Journal Template
Days in quarantine: