Open For Inspiration, by D.M. Solis

Readers at my Twitter feed and here are inquiring about the idea-generating journaling practice I facilitate to spark creative thinking and re-energize the journey for anyone from renegade musicians, writers, and artists, to work-at-home mums and dads, to individuals and groups transitioning after a move, job change, or loss of a life-partner, to new lovers and/or mid-lifers, as well as corporate climbers, and retirees in the third and possibly most giving stages of their lives.

This is how it's evolving, how we're traveling so far. Picture the scene of a modern-day Canterbury Tales...where we all have something to puzzle with, a story to sort through, telling it as we go. To start with, I post thought-provoking questions, suggestions or invitations like those shown in the previous blog article and listed in the sidebar at right, about creative challenges, visioning, life-pathing, memories, hopes, dreams, patterns and relationships.

I've used these and similar questions to assist many types of travelers, from designers and visual artists to inspired scientists, communicators, educators, clergy and business entrepreneurs, even info-techies and gadget junkies, as well as young English students journaling for the first time, and sage elders writing robust memoirs. These questions are designed not just to be "sparks," but to inspire ongoing attentiveness, to further our individual practices of hearing and responding to the creative Muse. Coming along on this journey, you get to choose from the questions you feel drawn to answer, and the ones you may prefer to avoid. They're all optional. Some are lighthearted, others go very deep. But remember: It's quite possible that the question we most wish to avoid, is the one we most need to answer to unblock creativity or channel more of it.

Participants tend to set aside daily or weekly journaling/"idea-generating"/listening time, choosing one question a day, one or two a week, or some other variation that suits them. If you journal by entering a "Comment" here, and wish to keep your entry, you'll need to print it out at home or save it into your word processor -- because your responses aren't published on the blog unless they align with the trends, themes, issues or needs of the other participants (which are, so far, quite diverse).

For the most part, I like to keep participant replies private, and prefer to stay out of it once I've presented the initial questions, except for encouragement when it seems needed or highlighting some key theme or very fine metaphor that catches my eye. But if your response includes a question for me, I'll try to "Comment" back. Sometimes it's best to let such questions incubate there, while a deeper issue or question begins to reveal itself...for the participant. That's not a cop-out...any good teacher knows, you don't always give closure...and you rarely answer inquiries generated by the kinds of "inductive" questions I'm presenting here, without turning them back to the individual or group first. The purpose isn't about the facilitator's's about re-connecting with the curiosity all sentient creatures have when they're born, as well as fine-tuing how we listen, and learning how to learn more from our experiences and especially from our reactions, adding new ways of seeing and attending to something deeper than thought, even deeper than feelings, waiting in the tension of "not knowing," trusting your muse or Art Spirit, and letting go to discover more.

The point of this particular journaling practice and at this stage of the journey, is not to generate discussion, collaboration, networking, or even for everyone to become creative writers (though some of us will and are), the point is to instigate or co-create with each traveler and with this ad hoc group of characters sojourning individually and sort-of-together, a supportive "no pressure zone," a space in which to practice paying attention while logging discoveries which could result in important, compelling, complex and/or simple, sharper, more brilliant work, that serves our "crafts" and our business or personal relationships, far beyond this safe, even "sacred" pathway. It's about priming the pump that fuels visioning, listening, and discovering...nurturing curiosity...journeying further and further, wider and deeper...actively seeking, but also waiting, resting, watching and open for the inspiration that is all around us and for the innovation resting (perhaps temporarily) deep within us...being true to the art spirits we are and the ones we're becoming.

Now, if you journal by way of sending a response-Comment and DON'T want me to post it, add "PRIVATE" to the beginning or end of it, and I'll respect your wishes. This seems to be the trend. (When I teach creative journaling in a formal classroom setting, all entries are between the writer and me, until the writer creates a poem, story, or other project and shares it with the group. We're not doing that step as part of this online journey. For now, we'll see how this goes. I imagine the path will keep evolving. Wouldn't it be remarkable if we could have a number of voyagers, cross pollinating ideas and techniques from a number of different fields and worlds?)

You can begin any time. You can leave when you want and return if/when you wish. Travelers have a way of coming and going, then coming back again, responding to their muse. The important thing is that the journey is useful, that it serves a diversity of needs, helping us grow and develop as the artists of our individual lives, and artists on our chosen creative or entrepreneurial roads.

That's pretty much the shape of it. If you still have a question about the process, feel free to send it to me here or at my Twitter feed so I can continue to refine this. In addition to the journaling questions posted all along the trail, the sign at the initial gateway reads:


Yes, this sign is intended to have a number of possible meanings. Could it be a chant, a cyclical prayer and invitation...back and forth, back and forth, to and from your creative muse and you? Either way, thank you for venturing this far. Peace and all GOOD things for YOU in creativity and in Life.