Writing and well-being for busy people

Why have people written diaries, now and in the past? Can private diary writing help promote well-being? Is it time to ‘reimagine’ the diary for the contemporary era in an era where people publicly share life-stories on social media?

What did the project involve? 

This Ideas Exchange explored the different reasons people give for keeping diaries and the impediments that sometimes prevent diary-writing, particularly amongst professional people who often say they do not have the time. They investigated what encourages or dissuades diary-writing in professions that have a high level of inter-personal interaction or retention issues, such as teachers or NHS staff. Could diary-writing help improve well-being in these settings? They also explored if the form of the diary itself can help encourage ‘healthy’ self-reflection. Is it time to reimagine the diary for the twenty-first century?  

Together the team created partnerships and connections that were essential in creating a larger coproduced and interdisciplinary project to reimagine the diary. They would have meetings with prospective external partners to develop ideas and to devise a series of events that will underpin future project proposals. These meetings included

  • An ideas session with potential creative partners,
  • Connecting with professional groups who might benefit from diary writing to discuss project involvement,
  •  Discussing the ethical implications involved in taking this research further.
  • Meeting with University of Bristol Theatre Collection and Special Collections to discuss and plan events working exploring the diaries within the archives.

Who are the team and what do they bring?

  • Lucy Kelly (Education, University of Bristol) is a tutor on the PGCE English programme and is interested in student teacher wellbeing, and teacher wellbeing more generally. Her main research area is diary keeping as a positive tool for teacher wellbeing.
  • Grace Huxford (History, University of Bristol) is a social and oral historian of modern Britain interested in the histories of people affected by war and militaries, such as military families and children, as well as the long-term impact of conflict on memory, gender and selfhood.

What were the results?

The team successfully applied for Brigstow Experimental Partnership Seedcorn funding with a larger project bid . This bid was built around a series of events that cumulatively help answer broader research questions. It was built around three distinct phases: Diary-keeping; Reflection on diary writing; and Re-imagining the diary.

Read about the follow on Experimental Partnership “Reimagining the Diary: Writing and wellbeing for busy people”

After which, the project has developed and expanded further with the following projects:

Reimagining the Diary: Reflective practice as a positive tool for pupil mental health and wellbeing.

Reimagining the Diary: diary-keeping as a positive tool for teacher wellbeing.