Making Time for Julia Cameron’s Artist Date

As part of our August blog theme about breaks and celebrations, I posted this essay at SMACK DAB IN THE MIDDLE BLOG.  

Many years ago a poetry teacher introduced me to Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. It’s a structured program that guides the reader through steps to becoming more creative. There are two basic tools that Julia asks the reader to commit to doing during the program. One tool is to journal first thing each day – Julia calls it Morning Pages. The other tool is called the Artist Date. Here is the basic Artist Date concept:

…An artist date is 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…

Excerpt from The Artist’s Way, page 18

I’ve put myself through this program twice now – and both times The Artist’s Date has been one of the most rewarding aspects. At first it’s daunting and sounds so decadent, especially, I think, to people newly claiming their position as a creative being. For me in the beginning, I wanted to be taken seriously. I felt that I needed something tangible to show for my efforts, to show that I was worthy of the title of writer. A play date sounded decadent, fun. How could I be taken seriously if I was out having fun? But I trusted the process and started taking myself on Artist’s Dates. Eventually it began to make sense to me in the vein of the old adage of “all work and no play…” And the best part was that my writing time didn’t suffer, and it was actually enhanced by the dates. And not just by virtue of taking time away – the experience of the dates themselves opened me up to additional creative thinking, which transferred to creative doing/writing when I did get back to my desk.

I’m at the point now where I take this creative break naturally and regularly. Some weeks it may be a grand date such as a splurge on art supplies, seeing a movie all by myself, or a trip to a museum. Other weeks it might be as modest as doodling with markers, a browse through an antique store, or a walk outside with my camera. The only consistent factor is that I do take the time for my Artist Date. It’s one of the best habits that I’ve formed over the years, and one that rewards me every time I do it.

I wish you luck on your own creative journey and finding the type of breaks that work best for you.



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