A core principle of The Forest is to work from the inside-out. This means we're not searching the external world for other people's answers about how to approach our creative work and business, but instead digging inward. If our goal is a joyful, true fan business, fueled by the Creative Individuation process, the answers we seek are already within us. Following other people's paths might feel more comfortable and safe, but they will never lead to a flourishing life in the same way as carving your own.

Targeted Inquiries are a tool for self-discovery. They'll help you search your psyche and soul, and uncover all sorts of raw ingredients, which you can then combine in any way that feels alive and resonant to you. When I say I am not an expert, nor a guru of any kind, it's because everything in The Forest is predicated on this personal inner work. What you discover here, and where those discoveries lead you, will probably look different from what I'm doing. And that's great. Our goal isn't to follow the same blueprint and build lookalike businesses. Internet culture has already been poisoned by mimicry at scale. Our goal is to build something that is uniquely our own, and connect with people who value us for the pure expression of our authenticity (ie. true fans).

With that, here are the directions for how to do Targeted Inquiries. My suggestion is to read this through 2-3x, and do the same for the Freewriting and Freespeaking explainers. Deeply familiarize yourself with the process and instructions, so that when you sit down to do an inquiry session, you've internalized the guidelines and don't have to think about them much. Lastly, expect the first few sessions to be the most uncomfortable and uncertain. Like everything worthwhile, when you put in the reps, it starts getting easier. Eventually, as you navigate through The Forest, inquiry will become second nature, and you will be well on your way towards becoming more fully yourself.

The Targeted Inquiry Process

Step 1: Prepare your physical/digital environment

  • expect this to get a bit uncomfortable, as you'll be giving your psyche a workout in a way it's not used to
  • you can proactively take away outlets for your brain to distract itself from the discomfort
    • turn off notifications everywhere
    • tell your spouse/roommate/cat not to disturb you
    • if you need a distraction blocking app, or to put your phone in another room, do it
    • our goal is pure, focused single-tasking. set up your environment accordingly
  • and remember, if you feel the urge to check twitter, email, etc during a session, that means it’s working
    • lean into the discomfort. double down. let your brain sweat. very often this type of tension precedes the most delicious insights

Step 2: Prompt yourself with a question or idea

  • open-ended inquiry can be good and worthwhile
    • but for our purposes in The Forest, we're looking for specific types of insights that we can use in creativity, marketing, and business
    • so it helps to be a bit more intentional and point yourself in specific directions
  • for every targeted inquiry exercise in The Forest, I will give you a group of prompts or questions to consider
    • personally, i like to look over multiple prompts before diving into a session
    • i'll start with the one that feels most interesting, but by looking at the others, my brain starts working on them in the background
  • if none of my prompts resonate or spark anything, come up with your own. there are no rules here!
    • you're better prepared to journey into your own psyche than me. so do whatever you need to do to make it a fruitful journey
  • without a timer, it’s easy to let your subconscious off the hook before it's unearthed the juicy stuff
    • there will be a flourish of immediate and obvious ideas, and you may be tempted to stop there
    • but the real magic happens when push far beyond the obvious ideas and keep digging
  • 10-20 minutes has been the sweet spot for me
    • long enough to make my brain sweat quite a lot
    • but short enough that it doesn’t freak me out and lead to procrastination
  • also, if you get to the end of your timer and the ideas are still flowing, keep going!

Step 4: Write or record yourself speaking about the prompt

  • here are some important principles/guidelines for how to approach this
  • move at the speed of thought
    • the goal is pure stream of consciousness. let everything in your mind flow out unimpeded
    • doesn’t matter if the ideas are gibberish
    • doesn’t matter if you don’t actually believe what you’re saying
    • doesn’t matter if your spelling, grammar, or punctuation suck
    • doesn’t matter if you express something that scares you, or that you’ve never told another living soul
    • just keep dumping the next thought that pops into your head onto the page
  • try to keep the ideas flowing, no matter what
    • momentum and energy are your friend, as they keep your mind active
    • if you stop for too long, it lets your subconscious off the hook, and it can be hard to start back up
    • so if you get majorly stuck, use another, related prompt, or just write whatever pops in your head
      • personally, i’ll start writing about how i’m feeling in the moment. i’ll describe, explore bodily sensations and what i think they mean
      • or i’ll just write about what i plan to have for lunch, or what i'm doing later that day
    • just keep moving, and trust that your brain is still working on the important stuff in the background
    • if you keep at it, relevant ideas will sprout back up organically
  • and remember, this is only for you. no one else is ever going to see it.

Step 5: Conduct a Resonance Review

  • read through what you wrote or captured
    • ideally wait for a bit of time to pass from when you first wrote it
    • a few hours, or maybe a day
  • highlight or underline anything that resonates. be on the lookout for...
    • positive resonance - things that feel good. usually signaled by a Felt Sense of warmth or energy or vitality in your body.
    • negative resonance - things that fill you with heaviness, dread, anger, sadness
    • both types of resonance can be useful, and can give you clues about what's worth moving towards, and what's worth moving away from.