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Connecting to Creation through Artistic Expression, Part II: the Artist Date

Connecting to Creation Through Artistic Expression

Part 2: The Artist Date

Introduction from Nancy Nason Guss

On our writing retreat, Ira Pincus shared a book with great strategies that increase creativity and a feeling of connectedness. One does not have to be a writer to enjoy these, for anyone can benefit from these seemingly simple activities. They are so simple that many put them off for another time, and before they know it, the opportunity has passed. This can be especially true when under stress or having a lot to do. It seems we often let life and its busyness launch is into constant cyclical activities without a way to stop, gain perspective, and mental clarity. In part 2, we are reminded to take time enjoying life on our own terms. I hope all enjoy connecting to creation and themselves by finding time for the self. Thank you, Ira.

Connecting to Creation Through Artistic Expression

Part 2: The Artist Date

Reconnect with your inner-artist by taking yourself on a weekly date. A perfect way to awaken and inspire the muse within.

By Ira Pincus

In my last post, I discussed the Morning Pages- a practice that involves waking up and immediately writing three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness (please see my previous post for more on this). This week, I introducethe Artist Date, a practice also from Julia Cameron’s book. This practice provides freedom, fun and the opportunity to treat yourself as you would others.

The Artist Date: Just through its name, the Artist Datemay seem like a trivial and insignificant self-care activity, and one that might be easily dismissed, but I have come to see the incredible value in the combination of writingthe Morning Pages and taking time for the Artist Date. These two activities are opposite sides of the same coin. The Artist Dateis just like that, listening, nurturing and pampering your creative child. “Spending time in solitude with your artist child is essential to self-nurturing,” Cameron says in The Artist’s Way, and she spends a great deal of time on ways to overcome the negative “killjoy” that will impede the Artist Date.

The Process: As regimented and demanding as the Morning Pages can seem at first, by contrast, the Artist Dateis a weeklyactivity. Here are some simple steps:

  1. Slice off a block of time. I invest at least two hours weekly and protect it. I try to block out the same few hours on the same day to make planning easier.

  2. The operative word here is solitude. This is a time for artists to connect to their creative child within. Even doing a simple thing like taking a walk or going to a movie is a completely different experience when done alone.

  3. Make a creative date every week. Options are unlimited, and I have enjoyed local museums, state parks, solo nature walks, movies, baseball games (with my mitt, like I’m ten) and even some retail therapy.

“Take time to do what makes your soul happy."

– Unknown

Keeping it Real- I related to Cameron’s discussion of the ways our consistent negative self-talk creates excuses to put off or cancel the artist date every week. It tells me that money’s tight and I can’t afford it, that it’s not a productive use of time, that there’s too much other, more pressing stuff to do, that there’s just no room for it in my tight schedule. All of those self-defeating voices sounds just like me, and recognizing it for what it was - just chatter - was a big step. The book has helped me overcome that noise by employing a more “can do” approach and using “offsetting” constructive talk.

The weekly artist date combined with my dailymorning pages practice has not only “unplugged” my creative jug again but opened me up to a source of inspiration that I haven’t felt before. As a result, I am producing actual work. The quality of that work is up for debate, but it’s nice to work on three completely different projects that excite me: a podcast, a novel, and screenplay.

Here are just a few things I have done so far since committing to my artist date...

  • A long, solitary walk, (without your phone). This inspires gratitude, humility and connection to our creation.

  • A visit to a local museum.I never realized Tampa had so many museums and so much history. So far, I’ve visited the Tampa Bay History Center, the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI), and toured a coffee manufacturing plant in historic Ybor City. Other great places are Tampa’s new River Walk, Tampa Museum of Art, the great museums in neighboring towns or counties. Check local papers and Chambers of Commerce for ideas.

  • Take “you” out to the ball game. Personalize and give variety to your artist date by including things you love, things that allow you to simply relax and forget about the day to day stresses. For me that’s baseball. Forever a thread that connected me to my father and grandfather, it provides the consistency of rules, tradition, aspiration and comfort that allow my inner child to be at peace.

  • See a movie, alone. A self-proclaimed movie geek, and being a former film student, this has been one of my favorite things to do. Attending a movie alone, especially during the day, is a completely immersive experience.

“When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life."

– Jean Shinoda Bolen

So, if you’ve been keeping up with The Morning Pagesand begun this journey to reclaim your long-lost inner artist, you’ve already done a lot! Congratulations, you’ve done the hardest part: getting started. I encourage you to keep at it and add the Artist Date; set a date and time for a date with yourself and keep it. Write about it and feel free to comment in the section below. I would love to hear how these, or other variations, work for you.

In part three, we will discuss ways to create the ideal environment in which to protect and nurture your active creative projects and your spirit by arranging a “sacred space” in your home.

Ira Pincus is a former public high-school English teacher who has survived the combat zone of hormone-driven and technology-dependent teenagers and lived to tell about it. A free-spirited child of the seventies, he hasn’t written anything you’ve heard of, unless of course you were a student in one of his classes. His work has been praised by fifteen year-olds throughout Central Florida - upon threat of failure - and has won him numerous free ice cream sandwiches from the lunch ladies. Nominated for “teacher of the month” and “teacher of the year” many times, he has never won. He lives in Tampa with his black labrador, Angie.

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