Document This Time

You might feel like life is mundane and you have nothing significant to say right now. Keep a journal anyway.

Nicole Peeler
Forge
Published in
3 min readApr 6, 2020

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A photo of a woman writing in her journal while her laptop is on her lap.
Photo: Cavan Images/Getty Images

TThese are scary times, but they’re not exactly exciting ones. Unless counting toilet paper rolls is your idea of a raging Friday night, you’re probably not living your most thrilling life right now. So why in the world would you want to record it?

It’s a fair question. But weirdly, I can’t think of a better — or more necessary — time to start journaling.

First, there’s the big-picture rationale: We’re in an unprecedented time in American history. If, like me, you’re fascinated by stories of how people lived during World War II or after earthquakes or through the Depression, know that you are helping to create the narrative of this moment. Document your experiences for posterity. What have you gone through? What have you learned about yourself, your neighbors, your nation? What has surprised you? Angered you? Captivated you?

On a more personal level, we’re spending a lot of time in our heads right now. Psychologists have found that journaling can help combat anxiety, depression, and stress and that freewriting exercises can help us maintain our mental health.

And on a practical note, journaling can be productive. This is an opportunity to meet yourself where you are and assess what you’re doing with your life. I’ve been thinking through a lot of my priorities and don’t want to forget what all of this alone time is helping me realize.

There are all sorts of ways to get started. You might try the time-honored tradition of “morning pages,” featured in the creativity bible The Artist’s Way, in which you basically write whatever the hell comes to your mind for three pages right after you wake up. I’m also a big fan of Nicole LaPerla’s “future self journal” prompt, which asks you to think about how you want to be in the world and how you can get there.

I’ve been doing it for a while, but the experience is especially striking to me right now. It’s helping me parse the various lessons I’m gleaning from living through this pandemic and think through how I can make those lessons stick. For example, I’ve become hyperaware of how much exercise contributes to my general…

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