Seeking Inspirational Ideas • Lynne Garner
|The diary I'd received as a gift
For the last three years I’ve been working as a tutor for my local council. Part of my departments remit is to reach those who’ve had a negative experience of education or haven’t had access to education as an adult. We cover a vast range of subjects and I’m lucky enough to teach the creative courses including writing. I teach two writing courses, one of which is designed to encourage students to discover their muse and write what they want to, for whatever reason they may have. Be it for therapeutic reasons or to make some form of income.
My courses are just ten hours long, two hours per week, for five consecutive weeks. In January I started a new creative course. At the beginning of the first session I asked, “what’s stopping you from writing?” I received the normal replies, including:
“I don’t have an imagination.”
“I have no idea where to start.”
“I’d quickly run out of ideas.”
To convince my students they’d never run out of inspiration and that it’s everywhere (a prime example is Sandra Horn’s great post on how random thoughts and dreams can be used) I set the group a task. I asked them to shout out where they think they could ‘find’ inspiration. As they gave their suggestions, I wrote them on a board. Once they’d dried up, I added a couple of my own to their list. Just before I wrapped up the session I asked if any of them had received a diary for Christmas. A couple said they had. I shared with them I’d received one and was going to use it as my “I noticed today” diary. My aim was to write something I’d noticed in it every day. This could be anything including that I’d noticed a large bird of prey had chosen a very old, dying tree as it’s early morning perch. I admitted that although we were now in the second week of 2019, I’d still not started this process, but it was still my intention to do so.
A day or so later I still hadn’t written anything my diary. I’d noticed loads of things and told myself I was going to write them down but hadn’t got around to it. I was beginning to feel a little guilty. It was then another idea struck me. Perhaps I needed a jolt and needed to do something else with this diary. I came up with the idea of filling it with suggestions of where to find inspiration. It also struck me that if I completed this then I could use as a teaching tool. So although over two weeks had passed I started from the 1stJanuary by using ideas I’d shared with my students. As I wrote down my usual suggestions, I found new ideas forming and I was soon in front of myself. Sadly, now we’re into March and I’m slowing down and struggling to fill my diary. So, I’ve decided to enlist your help and ask the same question I asked my students.
Where can you find inspiration? Any and all suggestions are welcome.