A journal of the outside

We have two prompts this month, both related to keeping a journal or diary. We are collaborating, again, with Mass Observation to encourage Immeasurable Events writers to join their Diary Day on 12 May. And for our own prompt, inspired by Annie Ernaux, we're playing with the difference between a journal and a diary. 

Mass Observation Diary Day, 12 May

In 1937 Mass Observation called for people from all parts of the UK to record everything they did from when they woke up in the morning to when they went to sleep at night on 12th May - the day of George VI’s Coronation. 11 years ago Mass Observation began to repeat this process annually. The resulting diaries have become an invaluable resource and offer a wonderful glimpse into the everyday lives of people across Britain. 

You can send your 12 May diaries to Mass Observation, to OCLW, or to us both:

Mass Observation have their own method for accepting Diary Day submissions, including templates you can download and use if you wish. Their submission process is explained here.

If you would like your diary to be included in our LIVE writing project as well, please send it to us in the usual way, here.

Due to the university's ethics guidelines we can't pass any diaries we receive to Mass Observation, but we hope you won't mind on this one occasion sending copies to both projects. Last year we ran the same challenge and you can see some of the resulting submissions here. Mass Observation collected 5,000 day diaries for 12th May 2020.

A journal of the outside

A Journal of the outside

Conventionally, a ‘diary’ is a record of each day’s events as they happen, while a ‘journal’ records feelings and thoughts as they develop. But what if we challenged ourselves to write a ‘journal’ that focused on the external world rather than the self, like French author Annie Ernaux's: Exteriors and Things Seen. Ernaux keeps  diaries of travelling by public transport, visiting the supermarket, reading the news and other quotidian experiences, but her thoughts and feelings colour the details she captures and the way she represents them. 

Could you challenge yourself to take some brief notes when you are in public space - the shopping centre, the pub, the bookshop, the bus, the city streets - this month?  Who do you see, what do people say to you, what do you overhear? How does your body feel moving around your environment? Where do you hurry and where do you linger, and where do you feel belonging or ownership?

We hope that you might find some inspiration in this writing prompt but as always if you would like to write something else - a diary entry, poem, your reflections on something else about your life at the moment - we'd be delighted to read whatever you would like to send. To go directly to the submission page and send us your writing, click here