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The Power of Journaling During the Pandemic

Yesterday public TV ran a bit by historian and biographer Janice Nimura about journaling during the pandemic. The piece grabbed me because in it Nimura echoed so many things we have covered thus far in the blog.

The focus of the interview was on the legacy people can gift to those who come later about what it was like living in 2020 and dealing with COVID-19. But in the process of sharing her thoughts, Nimura made clear that writing words only you see creates a vitality of composition and a corpus of language our children and grandchildren may one day discover, treasures buried in the field.

Here are a few snippets from Nimura’s piece:

You see, the rhetoric of powerful people can persist for millennia, but that kind of writing is a polished mask for an audience. Journals, on the other hand, are scribbled in private, and full of naked feelings. They preserve the voices we don’t usually hear, the very young, the elderly, the powerless. …
So, keep a journal, find a notebook or jot notes on your phone. Write about what you had for dinner. Write about what makes you angry. Write about what you want. Or, if you don’t feel like writing, draw. Paste in a photo of your cousins on Zoom or of a protest or your best friend wearing a mask. …

“Scribbled in private,” “full of naked feelings.” That’s what I’m talking about. That’s what we have dubbed in our blogs unfiltered writing. It is writing which captures the purity and power of the words trapped in our hearts and souls.

To cap it off, Nimura put this beautiful flourish on the end.

Write like no one is watching. That is, write like no one is watching right now. Someday, a historian or your own great-grandchild may lift your notebook from a dusty shelf or open a file on a forgotten hard drive and read your words with growing excitement. They will hear your voice reacting to the turmoil of 2020, figuring out what to feel.
And they will learn something from it, just as you learned something about yourself when you wrote it (emphasis added).”

Amen and amen.

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