With schools off for months and all of us living through an extraordinary time, I have an idea to help with both. All of us should keep a daily diary. This would be brilliant for adults, too, but for young people, it serves three specific purposes:
- Something genuinely creative, educational, practical to do each day
- Writing, especially about one’s own feelings and experiences, is therapeutic – it helps us process what we are dealing with
- A historical record which I absolutely promise you’ll be glad of in years to come
“But we will never forget this,” I hear you say. Oh, you will! You will forget almost all the details – and you will have no control over which you forget and which you remember. You’ll even forget the emotions. Just a few weeks after all this is over (because, yes, it will be) you’ll have forgotten 90% of what it really felt like. Our memories of fear, stress, upset, confusion fade fast – it’s a psychological defense mechanism that keeps us mentally well.
What we remember are statements such as “It was really scary”, “It was very confusing” and general things like “There was panic-buying” or “Schools closed”. But you will – trust me – forget most of the details and most of the feelings. You’ll remember the words about the feelings but you’ll have little emotional context to put those words in. In order to remember properly, we need details.
So, write them down. In your own words, your own style. It can be notes or something longer. It could be a letter to yourself or an imaginary friend.
Do it every day. Things are moving so fast that writing two or three days later won’t be enough – you’ll have forgotten half of it already. If you want it to be accurate and true, you must do it every day.
Give detail – a lot of detail. Record not just what happened but your feelings about it. If you don’t put enough detail in, in many years you won’t know what you meant. I’ve written a diary since I was 14 years old but in those early years I didn’t put enough detail so, when I re-read it now, I often don’t know who or what I’m talking about.
You don’t have to be “good” at writing! No one else has to read this. No one is marking it. There is no exam on it.
….I have a creative writing competition. I’m offering lots of books (from me and my publishers, Hachette Children’s Group and Walker Books), other stuff and even two free school visits as the prizes.
But just write for yourself for now
Don’t think about the competition for now. Just make sure you write about your experiences, thoughts and feelings every day. I promise you won’t regret it and in years to come you will be able to tell your children all about it and you will know that you are telling the truth.
Hold this thought: one day, and in only months, this will be over and we will be looking back and recovering. We will move forward. We need your words from today so that in the future the past is clear and true. It’s up to each of us to make that so!
Competition details here: www.nicolamorgan.com/news/antiviral-creative-writing-competition/