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The Artist’s Date

Like everyone, Covid has affected my life in a zillion random ways. While I’ve had the very good fortune not to get sick, I’m somewhat weighted by certain repercussions. No writing classes, for example; I haven’t had a paying job for months; and my Literature Ambassadorship came to an end in the spring, so I’ve lost my literary anchor. And motor. I feel like I’m drifting in Quotidian Creek. So it’s time to fashion my own anchor, and take up some oars. Or get out of the damn boat and walk.

So I’m going to try Julia Cameron’s concept of the Artist’s Date.

Everything I know about the practice came from reading this Lit Hub article an hour ago. But it seems simple enough: once a week you take your artist self out to do something fun. You plan it, you go alone, and you pay attention to the experience. This, Cameron argues, replenishes your artistic well so, when you work, you have something to draw on. 

Photo by Piero Nigro on Unsplash
Photo by Piero Nigro on Unsplash

Planning the Plan

The plan can be as flexible, or as rigid, as you like. I find having a solid routine invaluable, but I need space inside my routine to be able to run free without crashing into its walls. I can get into a state whereby fulfilling the steps of the routine takes over from the things the routine is meant to feed. And then those things die. Thus, if I decide to make Fun Day a specific day each week, Thursday, say, I may find it becomes just another thing to tick off my to-do list. But if I don’t make it a specific day I’m pretty sure I’ll never get round to doing it at all. 

So I need to decided on a day. That’s the first part. The second part is to think of fun things to do.

Notes from a recent Fun Day

The Fun List

What things do I find fun that, a) I can afford to do and, b) I can do alone?

Cameron suggests making a list of five things you would like to do if you were still a child, in the first instance. 

Fun Things I would Like to do if I were a Child

•Skateboard round a huge park with lakes and the like, while wearing a tutu.

•Visit an ice-cream factory.

•Sit on a pier and watch boats with my dog (I don’t have a dog, but nor am I a child).

•Go shrimping with a new bucket and net.

•Go to the library and sit on the floor surrounded by books.

•Go to a science museum. 

Once you have your inner-child’s list, Cameron asks you to add another five things. The example in the article implies these don’t have to be childish. But it doesn’t say they can’t be. It also doesn’t say they have to be achievable, though you are supposed to be able to do them in a day. But I reckon if you put a few fantasy things on the list you may find a way to make them realisable. Or, you may find something in your back yard that would give you a similar sense of whatever it is you’re hoping for. There’s a lot to gain from letting your imagination run riot, anyway.  

More Fun Activities for Artist’s Dates

•Eat in one of the restaurants on the World’s 50 Best list, preferably no.6, Central in Lima.

•Do a pastry making course.

•Sit with my feet in a tank of dead skin eating fish.

•Watch condors flying in their natural habitat.

•Take an oil painting class.

•Watch chocolate being made: from pod to truffle.

•Wander round a French market, sampling cheese.

•Walk in a city.

Things I Could Do in an Afternoon, Given my Constraints

Obviously, I can’t go to Lima in a day, so that’s out. And I couldn’t afford to go to any of the top 50 restaurants at the moment, even if there were one in Scotland, which there isn’t. But I could, at a push, take myself for lunch somewhere not too grim. I could go to the science museum in Glasgow, I have a free bus pass now; and I could go up to Edinburgh and go to the National, or Poetry, Library, or both. I’ll check out the cost of the fish foot tank thing, I do like the idea of fish nibbling my feet. That would need a bus journey, too.

Actually, I’m thinking I could just make use of that free bus pass and, once a week, go somewhere. Anywhere. And then me and my date, also me, could just have a wee explore.

All I need do now is pick a day, and make a plan. 

And see how effectively my creative well gets replenished.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Scarlet

    I’ve always wanted to do that Julia Cameron book properly – I’ve had it years, but I never get much beyond the first couple of chapters.
    Last week I had a yen to go to a funfair and have a go on the bumper cars – I didn’t, but the yen was enough.

    1. Eryl

      Isn’t it odd how we want to do certain things, and nothing obvious prevents us, but years go by and we don’t do them?
      I used to love the bumper cars! X

  2. 63mago

    I have no idea who Ms Cameron is, sorry. But I have very nice memories of my father and me travelling by bus over land through the Bavarian forrest. It was a normal regular public bus. My father also told me that when he came to the place where we would live later, he wanted to explore the city and surroundings. So he jumped on a random bus and drove to the last station. There he would walk around or walk back, just being curious and trying to find out what kind of neighbourhood this is.
    Similar, but different, is what a friend here told me. He sometimes goes to town and tries to look at the city with the eyes of a stranger, a visitor, a tourist. I do not know how “successful” he is in doing so.”Binnenexotismus” comes to mind.

    1. Eryl

      The only thing I know about her is that she is a writer who was once married to Martin Scorsese. I’ve never read anything she’s written, or knowingly watched one of her movies.
      Travelling by bus through the Bavarian forest sounds wonderful. Your father sounds cool.

      1. 63mago

        The “exotic”, the strange, un-familiar, curiosity arousing “other” is not found in places on the other side of the globus, but just around the corner. We are our own exotics. I saw very strange clothes and masks in Bavaria. I saw very interesting, but alien paintings on walls of catholic churches that needed a lot of explanation and showed me another way of thinking or better looking at the world.

        My father was in his own way a very cool man. I only learned, or understood this after his death

  3. 63mago

    “Writer’s leg” comes to mind – very late, sorry.

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