At the beginning of February, I received an email from author and creativity coach Beth Barany with the subject line “Get Intimate with Your Novel Writing Process”. It’s a great title and it got me to open the email. More than that – as soon as I started reading it, I printed it out, saved it and then followed the exercises she suggested. They made up the bulk of my Morning Pages for the next three days and when I was done I realized I was in need of scheduling a weekly Artist Date with myself.
Morning Pages. Artist Dates. Familiar words only if you know Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way so I’ll explain. Morning Pages are three hand written journal pages you do every morning, first thing. I’ve been doing them consistently for over two years now (and on and off for several years before that). I am not only more creative but more effective everywhere in my life when I’m doing this. They are my therapy, mediation, and spiritual journey all rolled in to one.
Artists Dates are, as described by Julia: …Are assigned play. They are a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you. 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.
In her video on this (which you can watch here) she also says. “You should look to enchant yourself. By date, we mean wooing.” If you’ve never read The Arist Way, I can’t recommend it enough. I’ve done it completely three times and I’ll likely do it again later this year.
So, back to Beth’s article. In her post (which you can read here) she asks about writers who are struggling:
- What is their relationship with their creativity?
- What would they like their relationship to be like?
- Have they listened to their muse lately? Have they listened to all the voices? If so, what are the voices saying? If no, what happens when they listen and hear what their creativity or muse is saying?
- What actions can they take to be in better relationship with their creativity?
And these are the four questions she uses as a kick off for her exercises. As I wrote my asnwers to and really looked at this relationship, which in many ways is one of the most important ones in my life, I realized how clearly I’d been neglecting this connection. It’s been so much about work and “needing” it to be a certain way at a certain time that we (my creativity and I) haven’t had any fun! My muse wants to play. Which is when I remembered Julia’s Artist Dates.
For the next month, I am going to be blogging about the dates I am taking and the ones I am considering in the future. It’s not easy to look at my weekly schedule and see – here is where I am going to plan time just for me to play with my Muse, to have fun with my creative side, but I can see where I am draining the well and that’s going to become a more serious problem if I don’t do this.
I’m looking at different things I can do, and there are lots of resources on the internet to give you ideas if you don’t know where to start. I’m a fan of taking $10 to a craft store and buying something fun or silly (or both). I’ve also gone to galleries (there are many in my town) and museums. You can go out or stay home for them and I’m hoping to mix it up as the month goes on. I’m curious to see what changes I notice after doing this for the next several weeks.
This week I’ve scheduled time to go through a pile of old magazines, put on some fun music (probably something from the 80s) and cut out pictures and phrases that I want to use in my visual journal. Not familiar with a visual journal? Then stick around, because that’s going to be my Artist Date for next week.
How’s your relationship with your creativity?