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Philosophy for Creatives - inspiring new work

This week I had another adventure in creative facilitation, providing an online workshop for Sheffield Young Writers. What a talented group of people they are! It was a great a joy to be among them for a couple of hours and I'm grateful for their willingness to try out a new way of working.

Building on the sessions I provided as part of the Sheffield Year of Reading we used the Philosophy for Communities method as a way in to creative writing. Taking the poem Dear Life by Maya C Popa as a starting stimulus, the usual early steps of enquiry encouraged participants to draw out concepts, ideas and questions.

All the way through this process I'm always struck by the huge potential of questions. I'm currently fascinated by the way thinking is harnessed and progressed by forming questions. This enquiry was no different and the young writers came up with a whole lot of great questions, all of which could lead into more big ideas, more questions, more thinking.

Questions such as:

  • Is it worth it?

  • Is bravery masking vulnerability?

  • How long is a piece of string?

  • Is isolation the worst kind of punishment?

  • What does it mean to be alone?

  • Is life itself a punishment?

  • Why do we forget things?

  • Do we need to suffer when we long for things?

For this enquiry though, instead of discussion, I set them off to use the shared thinking to inspire individual new writing. It was exciting and moving to hear people read from what they'd written at the end. There were poems and prose, on a diverse range of themes. Some continued the enquiry with philosophical reflections, others took things in an entirely new direction, focussing on a detail or using a question as a jumping off point for fiction.

As a writer and a creative facilitator, I'm keenly excited about the potential of Philosophy for Creatives. As well as inspiring individual creative practice, there are rich possibilities for collaborative, participatory work using P4C too.

Get in touch if you want to find out more, would like to experience a P4C enquiry or have ideas for a creative project using P4C.

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