On Writing in Your Journal (During a Pandemic)

If there was ever a time to journal, this is it.

If you have a lot of time on your hands, you’re at home self-isolating, going a little screwy, it’s might be a good opportunity to build in a daily break from your screens, your phone, Netflix, and just find a place to sit with a pen and a notebook. Making an effort to do this once or a twice a day might help with a bit of structure and mental decompressing, while also being a record of a very unusual time in recent history.

For us as a small business, we’re hustling, we’re pulling out our hair, we’re throwing all sorts of ideas at the wall to see what sticks. If these are scary and uncertain for you also, I imagine you will appreciate having even a brief record of what went on in these days, your thought process, your fears, brainstorming ideas, even if it’s a while before you look over it again. Just looking at the past week is a bit surreal.

If you haven’t had a lot of success with regular journaling in the past, or just aren’t sure where to begin, now’s a good time. You don’t necessarily have to get introspective: you can start off with just detailing the facts of the day, your new normal. Coffee? Breakfast? What did you spend your day doing? How’s your cat? In the morning you could think of a few things for the day ahead, whether it’s a virtual work meeting or cleaning out your kitchen pantry or treating yourself to the last of the chocolate mini eggs. In the evening you can write about how your day went, what happened, what you got done, if your kids built a fort or if you spent some time with some microwave popcorn and a good book.

A page-a-day format is great for this, because the structure on the page helps you to fill in the blanks. Really, though, any sort of pocket notebook is great. The ones below are the Field Notes Wilco Boxed Set (enough to last you through this pandemic??), and another good option are the Stalogy A6s, which have good paper quality and a spot at the top of the page for bubbling in the date. Write the date at the top of a page if it’s not there, and just get started. Today, I…

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For me, I’m continuing to keep up with the few lines a day in my 3 Year Diary. These are both bigger and smaller things (school officially cancelled, library is closed, Caleb got a new bike, Super ate Jon’s lunch), and looking back over the week it’s unreal to see how the situation unfolded—I can’t imagine how it’s going to look after six months.

Of course I have my beloved Traveler’s Notebook. The dated calendar insert is languishing a bit now, but I’m filling up my lightweight insert with a nightly overflow of everything that’s going on and all the insane places my mind is wandering to. I’m currently using my Hobonichi Techo Avec to keep track of work to-do lists and plans, ideas, blog posts. Taking things a day at a time.

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From less stressful times:

(2018) Jon: Caleb, I’m not very happy you lost my wedding ring.
Caleb: You went to a wedding?
Jon: Yes, when I married your mom.
Caleb: Your mom?
(2018) Toronto Public Library book sale. At (underground) car park, Liz opens Caleb’s door into low concrete beam, chips some paint off.
(2019) Mama: What are your eyes for?
Caleb: Nothing. A little bit of shooting laser beams.

8 Comments

  1. RUTH MARTIN

    Shooting laser beams — love it!

    Although at certain times in my life I have kept a journal for cathartic purposes, right now I feel like this is too big for me to write much about. I’m in the third year of my Leuchtturm Some Lines a Day journal and have been enjoying looking back each day at our lives last year and the year before. It’s giving me a sense of perspective to think how interesting my entries now will be this time next year, even though they are brief and definitely don’t record all the momentous details of current events. Now, if I were a diarist of L.M. Montgomery’s ability, it would be a real historical record!

    • wonderpens

      Perspective is exactly right—-in the middle of this, it’s wild and scary, and I’m with you in how overwhelming it can be to spend too much time ruminating on it. I can’t imagine what the next few weeks will look like, but hopefully in a year’s time we will have some perspective to help us see it.

  2. Lisa Pacarynuk

    I have been using my Traveler’s Notebook weekly planner with memo for my “some lines a day” – it had been languishing as a planner until now, but it has really helped kick-start the journalling! Thanks for the post – we’re out there with you!

    • wonderpens

      That’s so great to hear. Sometimes having some structure in your journal can also help keep you on track. My Traveler’s Notebook is a mainstay for me, and I’m glad to hear it’s working for you too. Stay well!

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