Journaling your way through COVID-19
The year was 974. A Japanese woman known as Michitsuna no haha, or “Michitsuna’s mother,” kept a journal detailing her life in the Japanese royal court. Her writings captured the loneliness she felt living among nobility, the joy of seeing her son grow and succeed, and the grief of losing her mother. The journal, which survived the passage of time, is known today as The Mayfly Diary and widely praised as a work of classical Japanese literature.
Centuries later, girl kept a diary between 1942 and 1944. She shared her hopes, fears and dreams with the diary, which she lovingly named “Kitty.” Today, we know of her writings as The Diary of Anne Frank.
These historical examples point to how the practice of recording one’s experiences and emotions can be therapeutic, especially in times of emotional distress. And given the global pandemic, many people are turning to journaling to cope with the strange and new stressors that COVID-19 has brought to their lives.
For many, however, starting on a blank journal page can be daunting. So, The A List asked Singaporean artist-illustrator Anngee Neo, who is no stranger to using art to process her emotions, for journaling tips. Neo posts her illustrations on Instagram (@illobyanngee), and they include pieces that express her anxieties and frustrations caused by COVID-19.
Here are her three tips for journaling:
Lower the barriers to getting started
If having a dedicated sketchbook or diary will motivate you to start journaling, treat yourself and buy a nice one. If having an expensive journal intimidates you, use a cheap jotterbook or scrap pieces of paper that you can put into a file folder.
Then, just start. Put pen or pencil to paper and make the first mark. Once you get started, you will find it quite easy to keep going.
Don’t be too serious and hard on yourself, especially if you are new to journaling. Remember, you are writing or drawing to express your feelings, there is no need to critique what you put on the page. Stay engaged, let your emotions flow and trust the process.
Something is better than nothing
Journaling is a habit and all habits are formed from repetition, but staying committed can be challenging at times. To get over the inertia, Neo allows herself shortcuts, just so she creates something, anything.
Don’t feel like drawing a human? Draw a blob character. Don’t feel like writing a whole journal entry? Sum up your day in three words. The key is to keep going; persistence pays.
If you would like to share your journal entries and illustrations with us, post them on social media and use the hashtag #SGCultureAnywhere.