In her excellent book The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, Julia Cameron shares one of the tools for reconnecting to our creativity: the artist date.
She defines an artist date as:
a block of time, perhaps two hours weekly, especially set aside and committed to nurturing your creative consciousness, your inner artist. In its most primary form, the artist date is an excursion, a play date that you preplan and defend against all interlopers. You do not take anyone on this artist date but you and your inner artist, a.k.a your creative child.
On her website, she further explains:
The Artist Date need not be overtly “artistic” — think mischief more than mastery. Artist Dates fire up the imagination. They spark whimsy. They encourage play. Since art is about the play of ideas, they feed our creative work by replenishing our inner well of images and inspiration. When choosing an Artist Date, it is good to ask yourself, “what sounds fun?” — and then allow yourself to try it.
According to Cameron, the intention of an artist date is to “enchant yourself,” which I love. She also refers to artist dates as “assigned play” and “wooing your own consciousness.”
In The Artist’s Way she notes that our artist “needs to be taken out, pampered, and listened to.” This is different for everyone. As Cameron writes, it might be visiting a junk store, seeing an old movie, seeing the sunset at the beach, bowling or attending an art exhibit.
She stresses the importance of listening to your “artist child” for how they feel about these dates. Because your artist child might feel like an art exhibit is too serious. And it might yearn for something more playful. As she writes, “We forget that the imagination-at-play is the heart of all good work.”
At first you might avoid taking yourself on an artist date. This is natural. One reason for the resistance is the fear of intimacy, according to Cameron. Because these dates call for solitude. They call for reconnecting to our creativity, which means they call for reconnecting to ourselves.
As she writes, “In order to have a real relationship with our creativity, we must take the time and care to cultivate it. Our creativity will use this time to confront us, to confide in us, to bond with us, and to plan.”
Another reason for the resistance is play. That is, an artist date involves play, but as adults, we are used to working instead. And this is where we’re most comfortable. Because work proves our worth. Being productive is worthwhile. Play is a guilty pleasure: We think it’s petty, insignificant, unimportant. We rarely talk about it. And if we do play, we do so in stolen moments, likely feeling bad about it.
However, play is powerful. Even for us adults. Here’s an excerpt from a piece I wrote about play several years ago:
In his book Play, author and psychiatrist Stuart Brown, MD, compares play to oxygen. He writes, “…it’s all around us, yet goes mostly unnoticed or unappreciated until it is missing.” This might seem surprising until you consider everything that constitutes play. Play is art, books, movies, music, comedy, flirting and daydreaming, writes Dr. Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play.
Here are other ideas you might try for your artist date:
- Going to a candy store and feeding your eyes all sorts of colors and patterns, feeding all your senses with sweet scents, crunchy textures and rich flavors. A candy store, to me, is play.
- Going to an art supply store, which also is filled with bright colors and possibility (whether you can “draw” or not).
- Going to a garden center, nursery or park to bask in nature’s beauty.
- Taking a long walk or hike and savoring the stillness.
- Riding your bike, breathing in the air, breeze and your surroundings.
- Going to a toy store to better understand play; to remind yourself that you know precisely how to play.
- Going to the bookstore or library to surround yourself with different worlds.
Think of the various ways you can enchant yourself, feed your senses and play. Because not only are these powerful ingredients for reconnecting to our creativity, but they’re also powerful ingredients for creating a meaningful, joyful life.
How will you nurture your inner artist? How would you like to enchant yourself or woo your consciousness?