Bless me, Julia Cameron, for I have sinned. It has been twelve years since my last artist date.
Well, I’m not sure of the exact time, but it’s in that area. For those of you who are not familiar with her work, Julia Cameron is the author of the book the Artist’s Way, and quite famous for her contributions into bringing out the dozing artist in every single one of us. I quite enjoyed reading her books, but I haven’t really followed her teachings. I tried for a bit, but at that point in time it just wasn’t right for me.
But I loved the concept of artist dates.
Here is a wonderful video where Julia Cameron explains what it is all about in more depth. I just love the way she seems so… nurturing about it.
On this video she explains how artist dates are supposed to be like an actual date, but one on which you go with your inner artist. The rules are to go on your own, and to do something that makes you perhaps slightly uncomfortable but is playful and fun. This can be anything that tickles your fancy. You don’t have to do any felting or even enter an art museum if you don’t want to.
Julia Cameron makes the point on the video that most adults today find it very hard to play and enjoy themselves. The thinking goes that playing eats into working time and detracts from productivity. I’m a victim of this mindset too, and right now I spend far too much time writing or trying to write, and far too little time living and doing things that would feed my writing. When I’m done, mostly just I collapse on the sofa. I do read books and newspapers and other people’s blogs, so I guess that’s something, but mine is not exactly what I’d call an inspiring life at the moment.
Psychological research is quite unanimous on the fact that taking breaks while working is not only good for you, but even necessary to produce quality results. The brain is simply not built for spending hours upon hours focused on a task. Stress is very counter-productive where creativity is concerned.
“Creative breaks” as they are often termed, give the brain a breather. It would be ideal to have mini-breaks scattered throughout the day. Some people recommend using a timer and spending 25 minutes on work, then 5 minutes taking a break. Some others recommend 52 minutes working, 17 minutes break. These time limits sound arbitrary to me, but maybe some ways do work better than others. Who knows.
Small breaks are good on a regular basis, but artist dates should happen around once a week.
Here’s a list of ten things I might want to do on an artist date off the top of my head.
- Visit an abandoned house
- Visit a ruin
- Go to the sea and look at the waves
- Take a train to a nearby town and have a walk around
- Go and draw in a park
- Watch an old black-and-white film
- Stand naked in the rain (I wrote dance first, but that’s too weird and too prototypical at the same time)
- Cook something totally foreign
- Wake up real early and go out to watch the sun rise
- Try a new dance class, something I’ve never even heard of before
Artist dates are perhaps the kind of thing some people do spontaneously, but if you don’t, then you can perhaps schedule it into your timetable. Think of it as resuscitation for the poor creative artist within.
What would your artist date be like? Suggestions welcomed in the comments!