How To Start A Visual Diary During Isolation

Category: Visual Storytelling, Visual Storytelling Tips

This splintered reality we all find ourselves sharing has the potential of becoming a tipping point for creativity.

As a mother and a daughter, being part of a defining moment in our history is scary. As a journalist, it is awe-inspiring. And personally, a part of me would be missing if I didn’t find a way to visualize my ups and downs. 

I’m not assuming you share my feelings, but I’m talking to those that do feel the urge to document what is happening right now.

Without access to the things that normally inspire us, we have to get creative about – well, being creative.

And it’s completely fine if you don’t feel like doing anything during this period. We are in an exceptional time, and just maintaining the status quo every day is enough. Wearing so many hats at home right now, if taking on one more thing causes mental overload — I get it. Appreciating art has just as many therapeutic benefits.

I first thought of producing visual projects during this time as a channel to maintain my sanity.

First, what is a personal visual project?

A personal visual project is exactly as it sounds. It can be any media that you want to work in –  it doesn’t just have to be video or photo centered, either. I work in this medium, so it will be no shock to anyone that’s where I feel most comfortable.

Ideas can come from drawings, journaling, clips from magazines, or mementos like pressed flowers or postcards are also all great vehicles for your projects. If you don’t have access to physical items, websites like Pinterest are a great place to find inspiration and keep your thoughts organized.

I’ve never been great at consistent journaling, but I know so many people who get so much out of it. I think it’s a great place to start jotting down thoughts that pop up during the day. 

This was my entry from yesterday (and pretty much every day, for that matter…)

Goals incomplete

In my Master Visual Storytelling community (which is almost at 1,000 members!), I did a live about and asked everyone how they find inspiration. The answers were awesome! One of the more creative ideas was writing down thoughts in the shower with kids bath crayons. That kind of freewheeling scrawling sounds excellent to me.

This is the visual diary I’m working on:
Light Therapy

Here are just a few tips and ideas to help jumpstart your visual diary journey

Tip 1 – Find Inspiration

Sometimes this is the toughest part. That’s why I encourage you to start doing your research on your favorite platforms.

Image Credit: @ivan.paniotov

  • What are the world’s top photographers shooting? The New York Times’s profiled what they’re documenting in isolation.
  • Bored Panda highlighted a freelance illustrator in Spain that is passing the time in lockdown by creating an illustration a day.
Image Credit: Varvara Fomina/Bored Panda
  • Jessica Bal, a photographer and teacher, shared an absolutely amazing document with me that she put together for her students. She wrote, “I was looking at various ways to approach, anything from photographing those close to you, to working with existing archives, to using photography as a source of mental healthcare.” I highly encourage everyone to take a look at her comprehensive resource.

Tip 2 – Try something you haven’t done before

If there is a medium you’ve meant to try — why not give it a try!

For photography, try some techniques that you haven’t worked with yet.

For instance:

  • Play with contrast. That’s what I’m doing with my Light Therapy photo project. 
  • multiple exposures 
  • Take old images, work them over in photoshop, and add new elements as layers.

You can also try some fun apps. I like the list put together by Expert Photography. I particularly liked #7 through #10 apps and will play around with some of them

Tip 3 – Don’t aim for perfection

Right now, many of us are raw.

It’s normal, but also should be acknowledged.

You may find that as your emotions change, so does your work. And that’s fine, acknowledge it and pivot. 

Tip 4 – Share thoughtfully

Everyone is sharing on social media these days, but are you getting the feedback you’d like?

You might want to consider creating a group with others to share the projects you are all working on.

Or share in the Master Visual Storytelling Community. If there is enough interest, we can even create a subgroup to discuss everything we’re working on.

Have we connected on Instagram yet? Feel free to reach out, and we can bounce ideas off of each other!
Tags: Bored Panda, Coronavirus, COVID-19, creativity, Facebook, Instagram, Master Visual Storytelling, new york times, photography, project ideas, social isolation, visual storytelling tips, visualstorytelling, youtube


Want to get my tips on becoming a better visual storyteller?

Please enter your name.
Please enter a valid email address.
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Recent Posts


NFTs: New opportunities for crypto-storytellers

Screen Shot 2021-03-24 at 12.20.32 AM

I’m a visual storyteller, should I care about Clubhouse?

small big

Size doesn’t matter: Effective comms tips for every team


Ten virtual conferences for storytellers in 2021 (plus two possibly? real ones)

one of my zoom presentations

Zoom in: Top storytelling tips for online presentations

If you liked this post, check out these:

Screenshots 2.0: A primer for a pandemic photoshoot
Photo by  Alice Dietrich
Finding inspiration: How to deal with a dry spell of ideas
Screen Shot 2020-05-19 at 09.42.13
Three Tips From Pandemic Powerhouses For Your Next ‘Live’
Syrian Refugee Camp
How Should NGOs Respond To COVID-19?
Screen Shot 2020-03-27 at 15.54.35
Scientific Storytelling During COVID-19: Visualizing Critical Data
10 Coronavirus Visuals Guaranteed To Make You Less Stressed
Improving Your Visual Storytelling Skills In 2020
What Is Your Purpose? Get Clear!
Screen Shot 2020-02-07 at 15.22.29
In The Face Of Global Crises, How Do We Keep Audiences From Feeling Overwhelmed?
Has The Internet’s Visual Content Issue Been Solved?

1 Comment

  1. […] you’re interested in your own project check out my blog post on creating a visual diary, but your kids may just want to paint dinosaurs and mermaids, and that’s ok. They may well […]

Leave a Comment

Subscribe to my NEWSLETTER

Want to get my tips on becoming a better visual storyteller?

Please enter your name.
Please enter a valid email address.
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.