Portable Muse: Never Run Out of Ideas Again

Last year I wrote about how using prompts can help you spark ideas for those days when you can’t think of anything “good” to write about in your journal. I showed you many sites and books that you could use for resources. Just think, wouldn’t it be cool if you could take all those sites and all those books I’ve suggested with you, where ever you go? Of course, you can take all the websites with you as long as you got wireless connectivity AND a laptop. But it’s not very cost effective. As for all those books, you could use Steve’s EXTREME planner idea and always carry your personal library on you at all times.

While it’s not efficient to carry your laptop with a library of books at your side all the time, you can carry a stack of cards printed with prompts and writing ideas. I’m going to show you how you can create and use your own personal, portable oblique idea generator that can be easily tossed in any bag. This Portable Muse is a small bound notebook filled with images and quotes and questions that will never allow you to go without a quick jolt of inspiration. Never will you run out of ideas again.

Let’s talk about gear first. You’ll need a small, portable notebook to keep all your images and written prompts in. Myndology and Circa products are great for creating your collection of idea inspirers. I’ve got one of Myndology’s Muse | short ring bound books and I think it’s the perfect size to store lots of fun and thought generating images as well as those written prompts. Even a small style Myndology Note or a mini-Circa notebook (2 ringed custom version) can also work for your Portable Muse. The single ring allows you to quickly flip thru ideas and open the book to a random place of inspiration. And both rings and Circa discs also give you the freedom to sort as well as interchange and rotate through a rather large stash of new ideas and images. This keeps your Portable Muse from going stale over the long haul as it helps you to keep writing and being inspired at any given time.

Now that you have an idea of what to keep your idea generating prompts in, let’s discuss what you’re going to want to keep inside your Muse. Written prompts give you words or questions or statements to follow and write about. Images, and pictures or collages of images help evoke feelings and reactions. If a picture can be worth a thousand words, then you’ll want to keep images in your Portable Muse to help inspire those words. You can choose to keep only visual prompts in your Portable Muse or you can mix and match both for a rounded out experience.

There are several ways to obtain good prompts. I’ve listed several different websites in past articles that offered free journaling prompts that you can quickly write down and copy onto cards in your Portable Muse. Or you can purchase the books I’ve recommended in the past and write down your favorites. As far as visual prompts go, use sites like Flickr or cut favorite images out of magazines to paste on cards. Finally, you can also use your mind to generate your own prompts. One caveat, if you take words or images online from others, respect the owners creative copyrights. Give credit where credit is due and only use copies of images for your personal use. Don’t try and sell Portable Muses with information that isn’t personally yours.

Here’s a small list of links to sites with prompts to get you started:

  • Creativity Portal Prompt Generator
  • Sunday Scribblings
  • Embodiment Seven for Seven
  • Flickr.com
  • JPEG Magazine
  • iStock Photo
  • Oblique Strategies is a deck of cards first published by Brian Eno that contained a cryptic quote, question or remark on them to get your mind thinking. It was created as a way to quickly generate new ideas when your mind goes blank. While Oblique Strategies decks are hard to obtain these days, you can use this concept and the Portable Muse idea to hack together your own Oblique Strategies deck.

When you’ve gathered enough resources for your Muse, you can start adding them to your notebook. I recommend that you write one prompt per card or paste one picture (or collage of images) per card. This way, you give your mind a clear thought to help inspire and generate new associations for your problem or the journal entry to write on for the day. I know that once you start collecting small snippets of things to write about, you’ll want to keep on uncovering new and exciting things to expand to your kit. At that point, all you need to do is just grab a blank card, and write or paste the prompt down and insert it into your Portable Muse.

When you’re done, simply toss the Muse into your backpack or computer bag so it’s always by your side. Now, when you’re faced with a blank page that needs some inspiration… grab the Muse out and randomly flip through the book to a page and let the image or message inspire ideas from you. Or use your Muse like a deck of cards. Unbind them, shuffle them and then draw a card or two at random. Once you’ve read the words on the card(s): follow the direction on the card or write down your thoughts and reactions to the images on the card and what they mean to you. It’s that simple.

Feel free to post your experiences in making your own Portable Muse down below or add your own favorite prompt resource in the comments below. As always I love to hear your feedback on how you take my ideas and incorporate them into your working and journaling lifestyles.

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