“An artist date is a block of time, perhaps two hours weekly, especially set aside and committed to nurturing your creative consciousness, your inner artist. In its most primary form, the artist date is an excursion, a play date that you pre-plan and defend against all interlopers… If you think this sounds stupid or that you will never be able to afford the time, identify that reaction as resistance. You cannot afford not to find time for artist dates.” ~(Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way,18)
In my February 3rd essay, “Outside the Machine,” I wrote about the benefits of taking what artist and creativity expert Julia Cameron terms “artist dates.” It was, in fact, one such “artist date,” in the form of a peaceful overnight stay in a beautiful location, that I now realize was the catalyst for the establishment of my current regular writing practice and maintenance of this Blue Flower blog. In this piece, I share about the significance of this particular, transformative “artist date,” in the hope of inspiring you to carve out artist dates for yourself, if you ever feel the desire to prioritize being more creative, more often.
Cameron explains the essence of an artist date in the passage above. An artist date is time that you intentionally set aside to inspire and feed your artist self. Cameron suggests taking artist dates regularly, ideally weekly, and she underscores the importance of not allowing other duties or opportunities to encroach upon that sacred time. Cameron notes that one common excuse for not taking an artist date is being “broke,” but little to no money must be spent in order to complete an artist date. She urges, “Your artist is a child. Time spent with a parent matters more than monies spent. A visit to a great junk store, a solo trip to the beach, an old movie seen alone together, a visit to an aquarium or an art gallery – these cost time, not money. Remember, it is the time commitment that is sacred (19).”
Every time I make time for an “artist date,” I feel the truth of Cameron’s assertions. Before discovering Cameron’s book, I organically honored my creative, soulful side at various moments of every day, however briefly: stopping to smell and meditate upon the glory of fresh bloom, stepping outside at night to reflect with wonder on the night sky. While these momentary, daily connections with my artist’s soul are vibrant and vital, I am now a keen proponent of taking pre-planned, longer “artist dates,” as often as I can, and especially working in an overnight or two a year, if possible, dedicated to inspiring my artist self.
Gallery Photo Credit: The Blue Flower
Here’s why. In June of 2021, my husband and I rented an Airbnb for one night in Wilton, NH from hospitable hosts, Bridget and John. The Airbnb is a cottage located beside a waterfall outside of an old, red mill and nestled amidst rose gardens. Serendipitously, we visited in the heart of rose season, and the sun blazed upon the roses, infusing the air with their lush scent and causing each blossom to glow. The very air around the cottage seemed gauzy and luminous. The sleeping space doubles as a kind of artist studio with whimsical, artistic artifacts abounding and invitations to create calling from every nook of the light, airy, adorable rooms. Everything about both the cottage and the property is magical, and after just that one night, I felt reminded of my true self: that I am a writer who needs to be writing. I wondered why I had let myself go so long disconnected from my creative self.
Inside the cottage. Gallery Photo Credit: The Blue Flower.
The call to get serious about pursuing my art began at the cottage’s entry. In the entryway, we were greeted by a print depicting the three Brontë sisters and a quote from Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, “ I am not an angel, and I will not be one until I die. I will be myself.” I asked myself, “Have I been being myself? Or have I been allowing a myriad of other priorities and pressures to draw me from my purpose?” I found I had to truthfully answer that I had, for too long, been disconnected from my call to write, and when we left that whimsical, glorious Airbnb, I determined to use the summer as a kind of writer’s workshop to get myself out of my inertia and to catapult me into some kind of regular writing practice. This Blue Flower blog has been the result.
Old Red Mill Gardens. Gallery Photo Credit: The Blue Flower.
I do not believe I would be writing every week and sharing my writing with such regularity if it had not been for that overnight immersion in beauty, peace, whimsy, and so many creative and inspirational artifacts. I left Wilton radiant with encouragement and firm of purpose. I was determined not to let the inner fire fanned by our stay to dwindle away. If one overnight in a beautiful, serene, and creativity-honoring space could do all that for me, can you believe that a similar get-away might provide just the catalyst you need to reawaken your creative self? You do not have to begin with an overnight. You could begin with a thoughtful stroll in a park, a visit to a historic home and grounds, a trip to the theater, or a camping trip. You might find your soul inspired by a quirky antique shop or even a visit to an old-fashioned candy counter or country store. You are the best person to know what will minister to your artistic self. Will you make a commitment to book an artist date sometime this week? Once you have set the date, do not allow anything to interfere. Honor your artist date and banish all resistance. You will feel better, live better, and be better when you honor your inner artist.