Last week I spent a bit of time looking at other museum websites.  I wanted to see how they were encouraging their communities to record the strange times we find ourselves in during Covid-19. I found something really good on Poole Museum website I thought I would adapt and share with you. That is – starting a visual diary.

Starting a visual diary during these unprecedented times can be useful for mindfulness and well being.  It allows you to be creative, expressing thoughts and feelings.  One day it could even be passed on to younger members of your family and become a precious heirloom.  It may even be deposited in a museum or archive, becoming a valuable piece of local history.  We’d love to see yours, if you’d like to share!

I was fascinated to hear extracts from ‘A Journal of the Plague Year’ on the radio.  Written by Daniel Defoe and published in 1722, it is an account of one man’s experiences of the year 1665, in which the Bubonic Plague struck London.  Defoe himself, was only a small boy at the time of the plague.  It struck me how some things were similar to now, such as people disobeying rules and breaking lock down!

What do I need to get started?

A scrapbook or notebook would be useful.  You could even make your own by stitching or taping bits of card and covering with fabric.  If you prefer, it could be a digital diary using your phone, tablet or computer.

What if I’m no good at art?

It doesn’t matter.  Doodles and cartoons are easy to do.  You could create a collage by cutting out pictures or words of interest.  Why not include photographs too?

Do I have to do a lot of writing?

No, your diary will be more achievable if you aim to record one ‘thing’ a day. This could even by a quote or saying, perhaps a joke?

What kind of things should I record?

This is up to you as you are the ‘curator’ of your own diary.  Ideas could include: the weather, music you are playing, a film or TV show, a meal, thoughts from chats with a neighbour or an online meet up with friends or family, observations of nature, a hobby or interest.

You may be a volunteer for a charity.  How did you help someone today?  Or perhaps you are self isolating or being shielded? Have you received an act of kindness?

Should I include the news?

You can if you wish.  However be aware that news can be speculative and upsetting.  It is best not to dwell on anything that is going to make you anxious, unhappy or that you can’t control.

How do I find inspiration?

I would suggest stepping outside or looking out of your window.  Shut your eyes.  What can you hear, smell or imagine? Open them. What can you see?

Perhaps explore websites or blogs on subjects that interest you?  Libraries are sharing links to magazines, museums are giving digital tours and there are many on line concerts.

Connecting to people is important, so why not go on line and join a coffee morning or quiz?

Does it have to be serious?

No, there are no rules and humour is definitely allowed! If you are creating a digital diary you could make a video of yourself, family members or a pet doing something funny.  Adding special effects is a good way to make you laugh.

Finally… Enjoy your diary.  It shouldn’t be a chore but an opportunity to record moments in you life which you can keep private, share with loved ones or even a wider audience.  I hope that it will help you to express yourself and get you through this strange time.