A Hot Date With Yourself


I’m notoriously bad at selfies, but I took this one on an artist date a few years ago. Obviously I was having fun!

As a creative being, which I know you are, it’s essential to keep the wellspring of your creativity clear and flowing. The best way I know of to do that is to take yourself on a hot artist date. Not once a year, but regularly.

I first heard of this idea in Julia Cameron’s wonderful book The Artist’s Way. She says to take yourself on an artist date every week for a couple of hours, but personally I’m more drawn to take a half or full day once a month or so. The frequency is totally up to you.

The idea is to go on a solo adventure of some kind, one that will open you to new sights and sounds, and refresh your imagination in the process. 

Summertime is ideal for this. I’m blessed to live in Maine, a place with an abundance of natural beauty. I like to go somewhere and walk around, exploring a beach or cute little seaside town. Then I’ll take myself out for lunch, ideally at a little cafe where I can sit for a while undisturbed. Art museums are also wonderful for artist dates. So are little funky coffee shops or independent bookstores.

On an artist date, the idea isn’t to immerse yourself in a book (as much as I love reading) or a movie, but rather to open yourself to inspiration via the world around you. Watch people or birds. Gaze at the clouds. Check out some music in the park. Daydream, and let your thoughts be free and easy.

If you really feel the need to do something during your solo date, bring along a sketchbook, art journal, or notebook. Let yourself playfully express what you’re seeing and experiencing. Don’t put pressure on your creativity. Your artist date isn’t the time to write that chapter or sketch a new design. It’s just for fun, to refresh your creative spirit.

Artists dates are productive, but not in the usual sense. They look and feel like playing around, just because. The productive part comes later, when your mind has had a chance to simmer all of that input together into a new creative idea, or a new way to approach a current project. Don’t worry about that part. Your mission is to go out into the world and have fun.

It might make you uncomfortable, the whole notion of spending time without an overt purpose. Or you might not be used to eating in a restaurant by yourself, or even spending quality time with you and you alone. If that’s the case, you can ease into it. Start with just an hour; a nature walk is a good beginning. Or find a creative friend and agree to try your first artist date together.

You don’t have to spend money to have an artist date. You can simply walk out your own front door and go exploring, on foot, opening yourself to whatever is there to be seen.

Routines can be helpful, and I’m an advocate of having a regular creative practice. However, getting into a rut where you’re going to the same places and doing the same things is draining to your creative mojo. Having a regular time set aside for an artist date brings new inspiration, like a breath of fresh air.

When I get really busy and forget to schedule in my artist dates, I notice the absence. For me, these outings have become an essential part of my Life of the Imagination.

Do you set aside regular time for artist dates? Would you like to? What are some of your favorite things to do when you get out to play?

I’d love to hear about your process. Leave a comment below or come join the conversation in the Book Birthing Center on Facebook. See you there!

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