As we all embrace this remarkable extraordinary time in our lives, historians are encouraging individuals to document their experiences. Like any major historical event, future historians will research and write about the impacts of COVID-19. There will be access to the major newspapers and government reports and statistics but what of the human stories? The wide and varied experiences of how our communities were affected. Each person, each generation will cope in their own way.
We encourage you to journal your experience. This could be a daily entry or a reflection piece or some thoughts noted down once a week. Here is a list of questions to get you motivated, some broad and some specific and not all may suit your specific circumstances.
How has this situation affected your education?
How is your school / University responding and supporting you?
How has this situation affected your job / business?
How has your employer/ business responded and supported you?
How is your life affected?
How have your immediate family members been affected?
What feelings are you experiencing?
Have you noticed any new changes, strategies, or realisations?
What do you miss?
How are you making use of your time?
What is your “new” routine? (more family movie nights?)
What are your “positives” from the experience? (Have you set a goal to learn something new or finish that long-ago started project)
What are you doing to maintain “good spirits”
What has been your favourite books, films and TV series consumed during this time?
Do you feel more creative or less so?
How are you supporting your children while they are home from school?
Are you doing anything to support others in your neighbourhood? (writing letters to aged care facilities, sharing garden produce, phoning others)
How have your domestic and caring duties changed?
What is your reaction to news and media reports?
What is your experience falling ill or caring for someone who is?
How are you safely getting your groceries?
Do you have new eating habits?
If you have become unemployed, how are you coping?
In 10 years when someone reads your journal, what would you want them to know?
Consider writing up in detail what your employer or your church or community group is doing specifically in response.
See this Writing Your life Stories list which includes websites that can provide further advice and inspiration.
How to journal
Research has shown that handwriting has health benefits for the brain.The manual act of putting a pen to paper can be therapy in itself. Writing also taps into the brains learning and creative zones. Handwriting also taps into the slow movement which has certainly been another aspect that some of us can appreciate in these current times. It is about being mindful of the now. Something all ages can do. Find a nice pen to write with and a clean journal to start.
But by all means use technology to take notes on your phone or make a voice recording if that is easier for you. Keep relevant emails and documents and ephemera and take screenshots from social media and news agencies that you may wish to document or respond to in your journal.
State Library Victoria have put a call out for donations. Make a note in pencil of the date if not already recorded on the item. They have recently launched their Memory Bank Project to archive what everyday life in Victoria is actually like now, during this time of collective isolation.
We are also keen for our community to take photographs. Documenting home and work life, life while social distancing and/or in quarantine, scenes from neighbourhoods and other communities, as well as life for small business owners, medical and industry workers affected by the crisis.
YPRL will be putting a call out in coming weeks as part of a project Sharing Our COVID-19 Stories, via a written reminiscence to be archived on Wikinorthia. We will also be inviting you to contribute your photographs and audio stories.
The archive website A Journal of the Plague Year: An Archive of COVID-19 is dedicated to collecting photos, videos, documents and other submissions in order to provide a comprehensive look at life during the COVID-19 pandemic. The website's name was inspired by Daniel Defoe's 1722 novel, which tells the story of a man during the bubonic plague in London. Access via Open Library
Michelle Obama notes in her book Becoming: A guided journal for discovering your voice: “Write down your experiences, thoughts, and feelings, in all their imperfections, and without judgement.. writing is a way to grow, and yes, to remember”.