Weekly Artist Dates

For years I had heard about The Artist’s Way. It was this magic book that would help artists produce better, do more, and feel like they were brand new sparkly people. I put it off because I doubted it could do much for me as a non-visual artist. I’m also not a spiritual person, which is a big piece of Julia Cameron’s philosophy.

Then I saw yet another review talking about how the book helped an artist dive deeper into their creativity, and I finally requested the book from the library. I committed a significant amount of time to the daily and weekly tasks and found I saw myself and my work differently. I was more optimistic, I was more willing to take creative risks, and I felt I was validating myself as a creator along the way.

I completed the 12-week workbook in December and have incorporated the two main practices into my routine. The first is Morning Pages. I journal three pages first thing in the morning every day except Saturday. This gives me space to workshop issues and clear my head before sitting to write. For a writer, this felt right. Almost effortless. 

Rebecca holding The Artist's Way outside

The second piece of the practice has been much harder. That’s the Artist Dates. The idea is every week you go do something that’s good for your artist soul. 

Rigorous daily journaling? Check. 

Filling a block on my schedule with something….fun?! 

The thing is, I do a lot of fun things in my life! I go to dinner with my husband, I play board games with friends, I attend community events, I play video games, I travel. I prioritize fun. 

But it’s been quite some time since I let impulse guide me. Or felt like I could use my time to do something other than try to reach a set goal. 

My very first Artist Date was last fall. I took a snack, a book, and a picnic blanket to the park and felt just simply glorious laying under the autumn trees.

Then the next week, I didn’t know what to do. What else was fun? And it kept getting harder to come up with new ideas. It felt like I was trying to check off another box again. 

Towards the end of the book, Julia writes that most people can incorporate Morning Pages easily, but the Artist Dates are difficult because we forget to play as adults. Artists Dates are something we do by ourselves so we feel it’s inherently selfish. It doesn’t make any money. And why would we go lollygagging in a park when the dishes need to be done? 

There are so many social forces that keep us from spending our time how we like. I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find I’ve succumbed to internalized capitalism, sexism, economic classism, and all the other things that tell me to keep my nose to the grindstone and never look up. 

Play is an act of revolution. 

Once I embraced that, it didn’t feel so flippant. I painted for the first time in years. I wrote poetry and decorated my office. I opened that trunk we keep all the old letters in that never see the light of day, and actually read them. I took time just to be and I was better for it. 

And, as I hope you’ll see soon, my writing was better for it too.

Picture of I'm Rebecca Zornow

I'm Rebecca Zornow

A science fiction author living in Wisconsin, I love traveling, eating good food, and reading long books.

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