Spotlight on the Muse Machine

As one of my hooky projects while writing Life in Five Senses, I made a list of “indirect directions” to help me generate creative ideas. 

My inspiration?

Sometimes, when working on a project, I’d hit a roadblock. Then, as I was struggling to move forward, I’d hear an offhand comment, or I’d read some thought-provoking phrase, and with this “indirect direction,” I’d get a sudden idea.

I kept a document that listed every indirect direction I used, and when I felt stuck, I reviewed my list, and these directions often helped. As a digital document, however, this list on my computer felt insubstantial. I wanted to make it real.

Now I’ve turned my messy DIY creativity-generator into a beautiful finished product. It’s such a thrill to hold the Muse Machine in my hands and pull out a card at random. A huge thank you to my talented team for helping me bring this idea to life and share it with the world. 

The Muse Machine is a deck of 150 cards with (somewhat mysterious) creative prompts to consult whenever you feel stuck. These indirect directions are short, suggestive, and open-ended, so that they ignite unexpected insights.

Here’s an example of I’ve used this deck myself.

Back when I created my own DIY version of this tool, I wanted to find a better name than “Indirect Directions.” I couldn’t think of anything. So I pulled a card and read, “Find a fresh metaphor.” Some days later, during a visit to the Metropolitan Museum, the sight of the earthenware Inkstand with Apollo and the Muses gave me my metaphor.

I hope you find the Muse Machine as inspiring as I do.



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