Why You Need to Go on an Artist Date This Weekend (and Every Weekend After)

In her book, The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron guides you —over the course of 12 weeks— through the process of recovering your creative self. Although aimed primarily at artists, the step-by-step approach will work for anyone looking to transform their life and overcome limiting beliefs.

I’ve worked through the book twice, both times with significantly positive outcomes. Among other things, it helped me gain confidence in my writing ability, overcome my obsession with perfectionism and let go of the resentment I harbored towards my first grade teacher for yelling at me when I drew circles in the middle of my workbook.

The Artist’s Way is a wonderful book and one I highly recommend, but for now I’m going to focus on just one aspect of it. Out of all the tools outlined within it, going on weekly Artist Dates is the one that’s stuck.

What is an Artist Date?

benefit of artist dates

Artist Dates are assigned play. They’re all about indulging our inner artist; the little kid inside us who would love to break free from the confines and responsibilities of being an adult and just have fun. These solo expeditions are an opportunity to explore something that interests you.

Artist Dates don’t have to be ‘artistic’ per sé, they’re more about firing up your imagination, sparking whimsy and most importantly, encouraging play. As Julia Cameron says, “Since art is about the play of ideas, they feed our creative work by replenishing our inner well of images and inspiration.”

What Are the Benefits of an Artist Date?

If your car’s gas gauge goes into the red you immediately pull over and fill up; it’s not even a question. Yet, when it comes to self-care we’re not nearly as diligent. This aversion to looking after number one comes at a price, though.

Just like a car can’t run on empty, neither can you. If you want to up your creative output, you have to take the time to fill your creative well. For me, Artist Dates are how I side-step writer’s block and procrastination. I almost never skip these weekly excursions, but on the rare occasion that I do, I notice the difference in my work almost immediately. My ability to create slows down and I’m not nearly as excited about writing.

Artist Dates are also a lot of fun and a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with yourself as an individual. We’re so conditioned to operating in a unit (family, couple, etc.), that we lose sight of who we are. Artist Dates are a way of getting in touch with ourselves again.

How to Choose an Artist Date

benefits of an artist date

“When choosing an Artist Date,” says Cameron, “it’s good to ask yourself, ‘what sounds fun?’ — and then allow yourself to try it.” Because Artist Dates are solo quests, you can choose to do whatever you feel like. You don’t have to consider anyone but yourself.

Go to an art gallery, watch a movie, take a pottery class or spend the morning wandering through a craft market; the choice is entirely yours. Just keep in mind that’s it’s meant to spark your imagination in some way. Massages are wonderful, but they’d be a better fit for your ‘me time’ slot.

Artist Dates 101

The Artist Date rules are simple, but depending on how much of a workaholic you are, you may still find them to be a challenge. We’ve had this idea of multi-tasking and being super productive drummed into us for so long now that taking time for ourselves is a foreign concept.

The Rules:

  • You have to go by yourself (no kids, spouses, besties or pets allowed).
  • It can’t involve chores (no combining your Artist Date with your grocery shopping).
  • It must be a minimum of two hours long.
  • You need to go on at least one Artist Date a week.

If you’re still uncomfortable about taking time out just for you, then ruminate for a moment on these wise words from Brian Sutton-Smith, a developmental psychologist who helped pioneer the study of play and its importance for both children and adults. He said, “The opposite of play is not work, it is depression.”

Ready to go on that Artist Date now? I thought you might be.

Related:
Even Adults Need Playtime
10 Ways to Embrace Your Inner Child
6 Ways to Deepen Your Relationship With Yourself

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

53 comments

Emma Z
Emma Z2 months ago

Thank you

SEND
Mike R
Mike R2 months ago

Thanks

SEND
Mike R
Mike R2 months ago

Thanks

SEND
Rosemary H
Rosemary H2 months ago

Yes, I've just been to London and spent time in the National Gallery, looking for paintings that spark ideas in me. Then I went to the Natural History Museum and wandered happily around, at one time sketching elegant little seabirds, and on the way back, discovering Archaeopteryx! That got me interested! But I'm always seeing something wonderful, even if it's just the changing light on the hills in front of my windows.

SEND
Julia R
Julia R2 months ago

Good idea! Take care of your inner being so it can take care of you and help you through those tough times!

SEND
Ricky T
Ricky T3 months ago

FYI I'm an artist.

SEND
Leo C
Leo C3 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

SEND
Paulo R
Paulo R3 months ago

ty

SEND
Paulo R
Paulo R3 months ago

ty

SEND
Leo C
Leo C3 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

SEND