I suppose it could be argued that indie authors have no trouble being creative. After all, we churn out novels at an amazing rate. We never lack for inspiration and we never, ever suffer from self-doubt. Right?
Yeah, right. Not.
During the several years after I finished my M.A. in fiction writing, I concentrated on my day job and on raising my kids. My creative side finally got sick of being banished, and it was then that I picked up a book by Julia Cameron called The Artist’s Way. It’s a twelve-week course designed to help you jumpstart your creativity and give you some tools for fighting whatever’s holding you back from doing what you want to do.
I found many of the exercises helpful, but among my favorites were the two bedrock activities that Cameron explains right at the beginning of the book. The first is the practice of writing morning pages, which I’ll talk about next month. The second is the weekly artist’s date.
No, you don’t have to chat up an itinerant painter once a week. The point of the artist’s date is to spend some quality time every week with your inner artist, the wellspring of your creativity – your inner child, if you will. Spending time with yourself, and treating yourself to something fun once a week, can help you start thinking about things in a new way, and it’s a short hop from there to kicking your creativity into gear.
Cameron suggests setting aside two hours each week for this date. “Oh sure,” you say, “where am I supposed to find that kind of time?” We’ve all got commitments. We’re all overscheduled. We’ve all got people yammering for all of our time and attention. “And furthermore,” you say, “I can’t afford to take myself out on a date every week.”
But nobody said an artist’s date has to cost money. And it’s possible to work it into an activity you’re already doing. Take a long lunch hour and go for a walk. Walk into a dollar store or a thrift shop and see what you can bring home for five or ten dollars. Watch a movie. Listen to music. Even musing as you do some menial, repetitive task – chopping vegetables, vacuuming the floor – can replenish your creative wellspring. (Although I wouldn’t recommend house cleaning as an artist’s date unless you love doing it!)
Inevitably, someone dear to you will try to horn in on your date with yourself. Resist the temptation to invite them along. The artist’s date is supposed to be time alone with yourself – time for you to pay attention to your inner artist. If somebody else is with you, you could end up paying attention to them and what they want to do, instead of paying attention to yourself and what you want to do.
I say all this, knowing that I have been lax in treating myself to artist’s dates lately. I’ve been very busy, you know, and money’s tight. Hmm. I think I need to set aside a couple of hours this weekend for a date with myself.
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