The first step to inspiration reboot? GET BACK TO BEING CONNECTED
SUMMARY COJOURNAL2014 is a chance for people who care about making space and time for their writing to join in an experiment designed to give structure to just that.
What’s in it for me? This is about creating intentional space for you to write, in a dedicated way, with other people doing the same thing in other parts of your city or the world. They are, like you, people I’ve met or connected with on this journey, so far, meeting well-read, eloquent, and charming folks from all kinds of places and walks of life. I am building a space for us to share, together, for 2014.
Why this is different. You might be wondering why I am inspired to host a cojournaling course, in the first place. The thing is, I believe sharing is where all the beginning of all learning begins. Without a chance to make what’s in our hearts known (first to ourselves, and then to others), it doesn’t get heard. Sometimes our stories are painful—grief, loss, or hurt—but sometimes, behind those things, there is an enormous well of that which is positive, too. Love. Hope. If there’s anything I learned in my quest to find “the village,” the one that it supposedly takes to help you raise your little child, it’s that the sharing is where the real learning happens; without others we don’t know yet but might find great comfort in knowing someday, we’re all alone.
WRITE FOR YOURSELF. Write with others.
Application window is July 15-August 31. COJOURNALING FALL 2014 will begin on Monday, Sept. 3, and continue through the week of Monday, Dec. 29.
Read on to learn how to apply, details of what it is, and more.
Not ready now, but curious?
Stay connected. Be sure to click “cojournaling” when you join Kismuth, for updates and reminders about cojournaling-related news:
How this got thought-up
I’ve met loads of lovely people in my life, for which I’m grateful, while living in Ireland, Japan, America, and now am moving about through South Asia. Teaching my son to engage with others across language and cultural barriers, for example, has been a whole sweep of learning all in itself! I have been half of Design Kompany, since 2005, a place where we talk all about meaning-making and create space for our clients to talk about what is important for them in discovering a brand story.
My life and business partner, Akira, and I ran a great ecourse, STEER, in 2012, and I saw how big the simple act of putting aside time to deliberately and intentionally consider what’s valuable to you, personally, could be for people. Some shifted jobs. Others changed things up in their personal relationships. Still others told me they were simply happy to have time and focus to put together their thoughts. It’s not easy in our modern culture to give ourselves this permission. Space. To play, to look inward, to do the hard work that can unleash a world of new insight if we let it. Journaling is one way to bring out some of that which is subconscious. But the sharing is where the real start of a shift begins.
COJOURNAL2014. What happened was I realized one fine day that writing is great, but writing in a group could be even better: a dozen or so writers in southwest Ireland used to meet on Friday nights in the sort of quiet and empty West Cork Arts Centre to talk about stories we’d written in the days between. That single step of sharing, that was the most important part of the whole writing experience for me. (Until then, I’d kept a bunch of journals, from high school on through college, but they didn’t turn into anything except stuff to store. I’d worried that it would stay that way.) But the class, the informal circle in which no one was in charge, so to speak, but all of us participated and got something out of it because we did, that was the best. I’m hoping some of the fascinating people I’ve met through the years will get to know one another through this new project for 2014. We are starting with small groups to keep things cozy.
Okay, so tell me more. Give me the specifics?
This will be set up like an ecourse, but much flatter and more participatory, like a writing circle might be in real life. I’ll host, so as to give structure and framing. A lot of people I know want to write something, but they just don’t have the space to make that happen in a way that feels like it’s cumulative, instead of just writing today, and writing tomorrow a little, too.
WHO. A small group of people (intimate, not a giant group) who are (mostly) exclusively part of the Kismuth e-letter community already, so you’ll have some familiarity with the context ahead of time.
WHAT. A co-journaling course. Space and time to write in a structured way, with a goal of completing a fully-formed story, is what you’ll get from Kismuth. [Update: If that's not what you are looking for, see Self.] A community of others in the course with whom you can share and reflect is an added benefit, but also, what and how much you’ll choose to share is totally up to you. A
WHERE. Virtual. I’ll design the course based on feedback this month, and talk about: platform, syllabus, and schedule will be for this. Starting is what’s important, I feel, and so, we’re off! :)
WHEN. Starts Monday, September 3. Continues weekly through the week of Monday, December 29. Two-week trial in August is free.
WHY. So you have a space for writing, and a chance to share within a small, select circle. The big project idea is to create chords across a circle, rather than a top-down series of conversation-starters from me every week. I’d love to see this grow, flourish, and even become a place where people feel they have a real community coming together that isn’t based on anything but a shared love of words, and expressing feelings through them. That’s it.
HOW THIS WILL WORK. Each week, a fresh conversation-starter will be set. There can be discussion throughout the week. We’ll create a platform where we can share our writings with one another, based on how much or how little we want to make available.
The Cojournal is a virtual project that connects, in small circles, people who want to write more pages, more often, and better. When it began, that was the major objective. The surprising and happy side effect is that people are uncovering their own themes. Writing is a way to tell yourself about yourself—how you see things, what’s important—to yourself. Writing in a safe space that’s just amongst a few other people doing the same, well, that’s the cojournal project.
No judgment. No formality. No grades, and no expectations.
It looks like this:
The Cojournal Project: Prompts arrive every Monday, and discussion follows in very small groups. Here is the first one, “Find your time.”
How it works. Monday prompts inspire small groups (4 people per group) to write independently or together about a specific topic. Meant to take 20 minutes or less of focus per week, the idea is to make space to practice. Hold each other accountable, or be held accountable by me! As host I remind you of what your goals were at the start and check in regularly to keep you on track. After a free two-week trial, if we decide it’s a good fit, the cost is $7/week, payable by PayPal. Sign up for free-trial
Experience to date. Since its start in January 2014 this project has witnessed the opening of doors to hearts that are personal and intimate in ways that we couldn’t have begun to imagine at the start. The 1:1 conversations between host Dipika Kohli and the participants in Europe, Asia, and both US coasts are moving and shapely, and the 4:4 conversations that bring together people in all layers and places who are sharing in the journey of telling their own stories, together, in a whirl of self-reflection and the buddings of self-awareness, are beautiful to witness, too.
Experimental, iterating, and organic. Because the work to discover one’s own deepest self begins with looking closely at what’s in front of us, but also being able to abandon the notion that to write is to create a work for some sort of Purpose (often ‘publication’), we are able to simply free ourselves to speak. There is no grading system here. There are no rules. Content is the only bit that matters, it’s the yield that comes from thinking within and thinking together, sometimes, it depends on the week and the prompt and how people are moved to share.
- After three months, we began to see banter.
- After six, there is camaraderie.
- There are pourings of emotion and sharing of that which is within.
- Things that might not have been spoken, or said, or arrived at, were it not for a simple commitment.
Cojournal Project participant Melinda Hunt: “My writerly friends (those who do so publicly and privately), I’ve been participating in Dipika Kohli’s CoJournal project since just before the new year. It’s a unique project and it’s pretty special. If you’ve been looking for some structure or accountability in your writing—and supportive community in very small groups, this could be for you. Dipika is a compassionate leader and offers some accessible assignments that are helping to shift my writing lens. I love it.”
A bit of backstory
Mood board collage for a client of Design Kompany, co-founded by Dipika Kohli (pictured), now editor of Kismuth Books.
“I USED TO WORK in newsrooms. In the early 2000s we heard a ton about blogs. How that was going to revolutionize the way we talk, think, and write. We learned, too, in the years since, about authenticity and story becoming more of what people wanted to hear about,” says Dipika. “I wanted to create a space where people who might not be able to start the process of self-questioning for self-awareness could do that, in a way that wasn’t so hard to start, so they could enjoy the things I saw clients of Design Kompany beginning to enjoy: figuring things out, from the inside.”
The big thing about this is there are no “right” answers. Only the journey to discover, along the way, what becomes true for us and us alone, and to figure our way back to the time when we were small children figuring things out as we went, not worried about how people perceived us or what we looked like or how we sounded. We just wanted to know things. And we asked ourselves many questions. We asked each other, too. T.S. Eliot said, “We must not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive at the place where we began, and to know it for the first time.”
That is the history and love and conversation that is behind this, the Cojournal Project. People who care are the ones who are making it work. People and their honesty are what is driving this project.
I want to write, but I’m not sure I can commit each week. Can I still join?
This project is best suited to people who are interested in sharing and contributing to the conversation. When you feel like you’re ready to dive in and discover, that’s the best time to apply.
OK. I’m curious. But can I just test it, first?
A two-week free trial is available to anyone, automatically. When you set up your payment system through PayPal, you will see the free trial weeks are a built-in part of the package.
Can I jump on, then take a break, and join in later?
No. The project works because people have become members of the space, and it’s really about having access and holding ourselves accountable together, in real time. When someone leaves the project, that’s fine, but it changes the group dynamics and makes space for new voices. Holding the safe space is what Kismuth is here to do, and we want to have people on board who feel comfortable. That doesn’t mean you can’t leave, of course! Cancel anytime, no problem. But you’ll have to wait until the new year to reapply, and preference will be given to new candidates.
What if I get overwhelmed and can’t keep up?
No problem. It’s pay-as-you-go, so you can cancel anytime.
Where do my fees go?
Kismuth sends e-letters to a group of curious, open and self-selecting people from around the world about twice a month. Fees go towards creating a holding space for conversations that link us, across boundaries and perceived differences, so that we can all use social media at its best: for personal, deep, and meaningful connections.
What happens to my writing? Do I retain copyright?
Copyright is always yours. No part of any of what you share in the email circles, or with me directly, will be used anywhere without your permission. We may ask to quote some of your words for our e-letters, but that will be made clear to you ahead of time. You retain all rights to anything you share.
How to join
Our application review period will be from July 15 through August 31. There’s no cost to apply.
To join COJOURNAL FALL 2014, all you have to do is two things:
1. Submit your answers to the two questions below
2. Create your PayPal profile. (See below).
Cost is USD $7/week. It’s pay-as-you-go, and you can cancel anytime. A free two-week trial is available if you’re curious to try it, first. Just click here or the Subscribe button just below to register.
Don’t have PayPal? Just e-mail and let me know you’d like to find another way.
Now, here’s Ira Glass.