Artist Way’s author Julia Cameron prescribes Artist’s Dates
We all know we have to show up at the keyboard if we want to get the work done but when is it okay to play? Do you ever have a passing thought that maybe “you need to work on your creativity?” We all know that creativity demands a certain playful spirit if it’s too be fully unleashed. What have you done recently to lure your inner playmate?
Work’s the problem – play, the solution
So says Julia Cameron in her book The Artist’s Date Book: A Companion Volume to The Artist’s Way. The bedrock of Cameron’s Artist Way program is the daily ritual of writing morning pages. For some, that may seem like work. In a larger sense, it is.
Over time a writer, artist, musician, or entrepreneur may find their creativity locked, blocked, even hocked by the weight of day-to-day sludge. Morning pages help clean out that sludge and reopen the creative pathways. Is that enough? No, says Cameron. There is another equally important part of the unleash creativity equation: Play.
Feed the muse, nurture your creativity
That seemingly pesky muse is not as recalcitrant as we think. It doesn’t take much to plump her up and set her free. A little sensory stimulation goes a long way. A play date or Artist Date, to use Cameron’s term, is in order.
Art is an image-using system,” I tell my students. “Think of yourself as having an inner trout pond, filled with images. When you use your creativity, you are drawing on this inner well. When you draw on it heavily, you will overfish your pond unless you learn to consciously replenish your store of images. Taking your Artist Date restocks the pond.” ~ Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Date Book
What is an Artist Date?
For Julia Cameron, an artist date is essentially a date with your muse. There are three simple yet major elements:
- It’s an activity that you do solo. No friends, no family. You and you alone.
- It should happen at least once a week.
- The activity should be something new, something you haven’t done before.
You would be amazed at how much resistance people can marshal when it comes to practicing these three things, but the payoff is amazing. I’ve watched the rewards first hand over more than six years of facilitating several long-term Artist Way groups, and I can tell you that the practices, when done as outlined, do work.
A guide to help you nurture your creativity
Julia Cameron’s hope for The Artist’s Date Book, a 365-day Artist Way companion, is that it will offer you the key principles in a fun, illustrative way and also function to prime the pump and encourage you in your quest to maintain and replenish your creative well. You can use the pages to monitor your morning pages efforts and track your artist dates and your responses. You won’t find a lot of text in this book, although there is a handy glossary to help you with The Artist Way’s terms and tools. Instead, you’ll find daily cartoons that present the principles and suggestions as you go through the year. It’s a good way to train yourself to focus on this aspect of your creativity.
You don’t have to be in the midst of The Artist Way program but it wouldn’t hurt. The Artist’s Date Book is a fun book that can easily serve as a daily reminder to do something we all should but seldom do.