Creative workouts require creative stretches

I said after returning from our vacation that I was going to start taking more artist dates, and so far this has been working really well. The point of the artist date, according to Julia Cameron (who articulated the concept in her Artist’s Way books), is to provide the creative inputs necessary to allow us to keep producing our outputs. In other words, you can’t make stuff up unless you’re taking stuff in. It’s really easy to shove these artist dates aside — “I don’t have time,” “I’m too busy,” “I don’t know what this would accomplish” — but I am finally coming to believe that they really are vital tools for creative health. Just as we need to stretch and strengthen our muscles to maintain bodily health, our creative muscles also need to be taken for a walk from time to time. And the more we use them, the more they need to be stretched.

Young Dancer, 5/09

Young Dancer, May 2009

Last week, I took my artist date in the Mission district of San Francisco, and it was fun. This week I ended up there again. I took another dance class, then I met Erik for a date-date. We had a delicious dinner at Mission Beach Cafe (this may be the first restaurant I’ve ever been to whose pies are up to my standard!) before heading over to the YBCA to watch the Smuin Ballet. I enjoyed the show, though I couldn’t help comparing it to the vibrant รšltima Vez performance I attended two years ago. (Wait, seriously, I haven’t gone to a dance show in two years? Yeesh!) But that was modern, and this was ballet, so I don’t really know if I can compare the two fairly. At any rate, as an artist date, it sufficed magnificently.

Julia Cameron says we need artist dates more when we are in the middle of creating. I’ve been writing a lot in preparation for VONA — 19 pages in the last week! — so I’m grateful to myself for seeing to it that I get this creativity-nurturing time. I’m behind on a lot of other things, but I’m not even close to burning out on the writing, and I think I have the artist dates to thank for this.