In moments of great uncertainty, I’ve always turned to my journal.
When covid hit, I left my apartment in New York City and spent the next few months quarantining in my parents’ attic. I was no stranger to isolation: I spent much of my twenties in treatment for leukemia, unable to travel, eat out, see friends, even take a walk. Suddenly isolation was back—this time on a global scale. To turn that isolation into creative solitude and connection, I asked my favorite writers, artists, and community leaders to share some words of inspiration and a prompt, and I invited my community to journal along with me.
By the end of the first 100 days of the Isolation Journals, there were 100,000 of us: writing, searching, seeking, connecting, making sense of our lives together. But isolation did not begin with the pandemic—more and more it’s a feature of everyday life. So I continued to send out a weekly newsletter with an essay and journaling prompt from a different contributor, along with a missive where I try to make sense of the ups and downs of life and learn to swim in the ocean of not-knowing.
Then in late 2021, I learned my leukemia had returned after almost a decade, and I had to re-enter treatment and undergo a second bone marrow transplant. This relapse has reminded me of all the lessons I’ve learned before and new ones too—lessons about learning to live on fault lines, about holding the unspeakably beautiful and unbearably cruel facts of life in the same palm.
Here at the Isolation Journals, we navigate life’s interruptions together. Here, we use creativity as a tool for survival. Here, stories of vulnerability become stories of resilience and strength, and they unite us as a community.
I believe a creative life is for everyone. I hope you’ll join me.
Why subscribe? You’ll get access to:
Poignant meditations on the creative practice like this podcast with my husband Jon Batiste,
Special events like this workshop with the beloved Elizabeth Gilbert,
The Hatch, our virtual creative hour;
Our Studio Visits archive, a collection of conversations with extraordinary artists, along with other opportunities for creative inspiration and community;
Early access to merch like our Isolation Journal No. 1,
Most importantly: a way for people who appreciate my work to support & sustain the Isolation Journals.
I do this work because I know it works, and it’s necessary. Through this practice, we create ourselves, and we write our way through. My hope is that you’ll join us.
If a paid subscription is out of reach, and you’d like access to these offerings, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We do provide scholarships.
From the Archive
Here’s a snippet of our Studio Visit with the dazzling Elizabeth Gilbert.
The journal is oceanic. It is capacious. It is memory, reverie, distillation. It teaches us to pay attention, to examine, to reflect, to play. The journal is tabula rasa and terra incognita. It is a mirror for the self—past, present, and future—and a portal onto the not yet known. It is refuge: a hiding place, a finding place.
—from the Isolation Journals Manifesto
About Suleika Jaouad
Suleika Jaouad is the author of the NYT bestselling memoir Between Two Kingdoms, an Emmy Award-winning journalist, and a cancer survivor. She reports from the in-between places—on the people and topics that elude easy categorization.