Every artist needs some space to get out of their own head and their comfort zone. And when I find myself feeling stuck or stagnant, I peruse my personal list of ideas for artist dates, and schedule myself a date posthaste!
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If you’re not familiar, an artist date comes from The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. The book is a 12-week program to help heal art scars and create a routine to make you feel more creative and grounded in the work you do. I vlogged my way through it back in 2020.
Do I recommend The Artist’s Way? Yep.
Is it a super easy thing to get through? Not even a little bit.
But if you’re in a place with your creative work where you want a little more personal accountability and what kind of feels like therapy for your creative self, you’re going to love it.
So, find a season in your life when you have a 12 weeks you can devote to the process. You’ll still have time for real life stuff, but you’ll need a few hours each week to complete the necessary activities.
The Artist’s Way Activities
Whether you’re going through the book or not, there are always tons of things for artists to do. So don’t feel obligated to try this if your creative plate is full and you’re struggling to keep up. Again, I always recommend you try this during a season when you know you’re going to have some time.
There are some non-negotiable activities you complete as you go through the program: morning pages, artist dates, and the weekly homework.
I’ve written about morning pages before, and I think it’s a practice that can be helpful even when you’ve completed The Artist’s Way. Every morning, you write 3 pages by hand in a notebook. You put the pen to paper and you just keep going. It’s all free writing, so just write whatever comes to mind. It doesn’t matter what it is.
You’re just getting your brain on paper and clearing your head before the day.
(Note: You can type or dictate these pages too. I know the old guard of writers say it’s not writing if you use a computer or a transcription app, but that’s ableist as hell, and I’m not down with that.)
Each week, you’re assigned to go on an artist date. The idea behind it is you need something to give yourself room to play.
I like artist dates for a number of reasons. They clear your head, give you some space to decompress, and let you get away from the creative work you do.
Artist dates can be as big or small as you’d like. You’re just getting away once a week and doing something out of the ordinary.
(There are tons of ideas for artist dates below!)
At the end of each chapter in the book, there’s some homework. It’s not a ton, nor is it anything that would require you to do school-style homework.
It’s mostly activities that reinforce the ideas in the chapter, and all of it is very introspective and chill.
But beware! Some of the homework is maybe a bit more soul searching than we typically enjoy, and for that, I recommend you give yourself the time you need to complete it.
Ideas for Artist Dates
I’ve written about artist date ideas before, and it’s something that I truly enjoy coming up with. The Artist’s Way artist date ideas are fun to plan, and even more fun to partake in. I’ve create a few lists of ideas for artist dates in this post to help you plan out your next creative outing.
Artist Date Ideas at Home
If you prefer not to leave the house, or if you’re trying to avoid a global pandemic, there are tons of artist dates you can do at home. You may need to purchase a few things to complete these, but many of them you should be able to do without paying a dime.
- Set a timer and sketch. You can use a prompt, or you can try to draw something in your home.
- Do a photoshoot. Put on an outrageous outfit, set your phone up on a shelf, use the photo timer, and have yourself a blast.
- Reorganize a cluttered space. Getting rid of clutter is a great way to feel more creative, and you’ll feel accomplished when you’re done.
- Start a blog.
- Repurpose old books and magazines. Collages are super fun to make.
- Plant something. It can be a whole garden or some herbs.
- Write a letter. You don’t have to send it, but you can write to anyone.
- Rearrange your furniture.
- Sit on the porch/balcony with a cup of coffee. Contemplate whatever crosses your mind.
- Live like a fictional character for a day.
- Make a Pinterest board full of inspirational images.
- Draw a self-portrait.
- Move your body in a way you normally don’t. Yoga, dance, pilates, tai chi, or whatever sounds best. Make sure you aren’t pushing yourself to injury.
- Go nude. But only if you don’t have windows people can see into.
- Write poetry.
- Follow a YouTube craft tutorial.
- Make playlists for people. Rekindle your love for the mixed tape.
- Write a bucket list. Write out everything you want to do before you die.
- Repurpose some trash into something new. Craft with it or make something useful.
- Rewatch your favorite movie of all time.
- Make an ideas journal.
- Read old journals.
- Fall down a rabbit hole. Research something weird and keep following the tangents you come across.
- Bake something you’ve never baked before. Then, of course, enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Outdoor Artist Dates
If you’re the fresh air type, then it’s time to step outdoors. These dates can mostly be done for free too!
- Walk through an old graveyard. Sit by your favorite headstone and chat with the owner.
- Go to a park and swing.
- Walk through a part of your city you don’t normally go through on foot. Take in the sites.
- Explore your city’s downtown. Make note of your favorite buildings.
- Go to a state park or wildlife preserve.
- Go to a neighborhood full of yard sales. Bonus points if you find some stuff that can be used for future artist dates.
- Admire public art. Take pictures of murals, statues, or whatever else your city has to offer.
- Pick wildflowers. Try not to trespass when you do this.
- Visit a farmer’s market. Buy some produce if you feel inclined.
- Rediscover your love of sidewalk chalk.
- Watch the sky. Find constellations if you do it at night, or see what shapes the clouds have to offer if you do it during the day.
Artist Date Ideas for Writers
Now, writers are a particular type of weirdo (I know because I am one) so it only makes sense that they would need a specific type of artist’s date. Here are some more bookish ideas.
- Live like your favorite character. Dress like they would and do something they’ve done in books.
- Visit a messy used bookstore.
- Pair the book you’re currently reading with a local beer. See if you can find beers to enhance the story.
- Cook a recipe from one of your favorite stories.
- Go new notebook shopping. Try not to spend all your money though.
- Write out all the lyrics to your favorite album.
- Write a short story in a genre you’ve never written in before.
- Fill an old blank journal.
- Illustrate the book you’re writing.
- Make a Pinterest board for your WIP.
- Try out your protagonist’s daily routine.
- Get rid of old journals. Throw out your old journals, or burn them if you’re fancy.
- Visit a place significant to your favorite author or book.
- Listen to an audiobook while staring at the night sky.
- Write bits of poetry and leave them around your city.
- Read something that’s been sitting on your shelves that you’ve never read.
- Write a fake journal about exploits and adventures you’ve never had.
Got Other Ideas for Artist Dates?
There’s nothing quite like a good artist date. Gimme all your artist date ideas in the comments below! Bonus points for stuff I can do at home, and even more bonus points if they feel writerly!