Continuing my journey through a twelve-week “unblocking” course, The Artist’s Way
“This feels pointless,” I complained aloud, while wrapping a scarf around my neck.
My husband, used to my pessimistic jeremiads, smiled.
“If it’s not helpful, you don’t have to do it again. Just try it and see.”
Try it and see.
I’ve always been so bad at that. Trial-and-error computation during math was tops on my list of Thing-I-Hate.
Probably a deep-seated fear of failure, coupled with a stubborn pursuit of perfection. Or are those the same…
This past Monday, I stole a few hours and took myself on an artist date.
According to Julia Cameron, the author of The Artist’s Way, an artist date is a time set aside for the purpose of “nurturing your creative consciousness, your inner artist.”
For this mama, it meant a few hours out of the house, alone, without having to run errands or dislocate my shoulder by passing goldfish into the backseat. And despite my protesting, I was thrilled at the prospect.
It was MLK day, which made things interesting. My first plan was to go to the library.
(This introvert can’t think of much that sounds more fun than getting lost in the stacks without somewhere else to be, someone waiting for me to finish, or someone to keep from pulling every. single. book. off close-to-the-ground shelves.)
But as I got to the end of the driveway, I remembered the library would be closed, due to the holiday.
I quickly checked Facebook for any MLK-related events that sounded interesting or “nurturing towards creative consciousness.” The parade didn’t start until the afternoon, and most other events were in the big city, not my college town. I wasn’t dressed for a work day, and although I am sure there were plenty of events happening, Zuckerberg apparently hadn’t picked up on many of them.
So, I drove. And, I skipped the podcasts. I listened to Andrew Peterson chase hope and sing questions, and I took the wrong lane, and ended up on the loop.
It was great.
Eventually, I pulled into the parking lot of a bookstore, and spend the next hour leafing through magazines. Poets & Writers, Writer’s Digest, Sidetracked, Bella Grace.
I regularly carry a bullet journal with me, an encouragement to myself to pay attention. Part of reading for pleasure, for me, involves the capability to save the thoughts and words that jump out at me — typically, they build upon another theme that has already been playing out in my life.
As I read one poet’s interview, my own words from earlier floated back to me…. “This feels pointless.”
I had to smile, as I read:
“I have grown a deeper gratitude for the idea of production that isn’t entirely based on what I put on the page and more on how I honor the moments of living off the page.” Hanif Abdurraqib
Living off the page is not pointless. Living off the page gives us what we need to put something worth reading on the page. Right there was a comforting confirmation that I was on the right track.
I left the bookstore empty-handed, but with a heart full of peace. I may not be a fan of morning pages, but I think I’m a convert when it comes to the artist date.
When I got home, I was able to hammer out the rest of the article I had been working on in the morning, and finished the day feeling successful.
If you’re a writer, or any sort of artist — and truly, you are, whether you even realize it or not —, you cannot consider time to search out inspiration as optional.
Some people call it rest, others call it self-care, some call it an artist date. Whatever you title it, you know you need it. Without it, your work suffers, your loved ones suffer, and your soul suffers.
Look at your calendar.
Go on, seriously…look at it.
Find one hour of white space, among the boxes that define your days this week, and mark it off for Inspiration.
Just one! Take that hour, turn off the work tech and the social scroll, and do something inspiring. Absolutely anything.
Do it alone. That’s a prerequisite for going on an artist date. Even your favorite people can’t come.
Go shoot baskets. Go ice skating. Go get a coffee and stare at people in the coffee shop.
You don’t even have to go anywhere — if you have kids, sometimes that’s just not an option, and that’s okay. But choose one hour of quiet, put a chair in front of a window, or a blank wall, make a hot drink, and just be.
Read. Rest. Draw. Paint. Listen to music. Do origami. Watch a movie that takes you somewhere you’d like to teach others to visit.
I didn’t spend a dime on my day out. If you have the money, for sure use it, but it’s not a necessity.
I’m keeping a list of ideas for next time — because there is absolutely going to be a next time. If I get nothing else out of these twelve weeks, my weekly artist date will be enough.
The other parts of my journey through The Artist’s Way course can be found here:
Your turn…if you could do anything for an artist date, what would you do? Where would you go/stay? Share your thoughts…I want to add to my list! ❤
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