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This prompt resonates with so many of the other #AcWriMoments this month -- e.g. we could ask ourselves “What is my body telling me right now?” (Michael Moses) or “What would Younger Self say?” (Margy Thomas) or “What kind of fuel can help my words to take flight?” (Sophie Nicholls).

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This is great! One of my most useful tools I’ve created for myself over the years is a set of 85 interconnected questions that I call my “Refraction Questions.” Whereas Reflection Questions are like mirrors that help us see ourselves, Refraction Questions are like lenses. They can expand our perception across scales and distances, like microscope and telescopes. 🔎🔬🔭 I use my RQs daily, and they help me so much with focus and intentionality. Thanks for the prompt, Katie!

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Nov 17, 2023Liked by Margy Thomas, Helen Sword

I echo Sophie’s point about inquiring into the contribution our work makes. For me, the most important question for a long time has been “What is the purpose of my writing?”, as I want the work I do to serve the world in some way. However, another question has become increasingly relevant and that is “Does this bring me joy?” At this stage in my life, I want to be able to bring all of myself to the work I do, so that it serves me as well as the world in some way.

The notion of questioning is also very pertinent right now, with the increasing rigidity and polarisation of opinion in the world. The writer Anne Lamott expresses this wonderfully in her book "Almost Everything: Notes on Hope":

“Nothing keeps us from changing more than our tendency — our willingness — to remain locked into versions of ourselves, into personae and identities barred in by heavy leaden rods of self-righteousness. Too often, we’d rather be right than understand — ourselves or others or the world — but it is only understanding, which only grows by leaps and bounds of wrong guesses and failed theories, that firms our grasp of reality.”

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Thank you for these questions, Katie. The question that is really resonating for me this morning is: “What larger contribution does my writing make?” I find this both focusing and comforting. Thinking about the bigger picture - what I'd like my words to do in the world - helps me to get clear and precise but also to remember that the real value of my work is in community, friendship, the process of writing and reading together.

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Nov 20, 2023Liked by Margy Thomas

For me right now, it's the very first question: “What is the purpose of my writing project?” The research world is new for me, so I am easily distracted by thoughts that take me off track, and certain writing pieces reflect this. Thank you for these reminders to sit with the writing and most importantly to revisit, especially since I am not blocked but inspired in my research journey. 🤓💫🙏

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What is the price of silence?

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