In a recent post I talked about the events that brought me to writing in the first place. I suppose this has been on my mind recently because I am struggling to finish what I hope will be the last draft of my novel before I begin sending it to agents. (Cross your fingers for me, people.)
My personal writing practice has, of late, been a bit disappointing. At first I was dealing with the exhaustion that comes after completing my MFA, but at this point I have to admit that laziness and a lack of motivation are also contributing factors.
Do I still have students I am responsible for and lesson plans to prepare? Yes. Do I still have family to spend time with? Yes. Do I still have a calling at church? Yes. Do I still have a desire for a social life? Absolutely.
But, I also have a desire to be a writer and that means making and acting on my choice to BE a writer. I have to get up and do the work.
Part of that "work" requries that I devote time to nurture my inner artist. I know it sounds silly, but it's true. If you don't take care of yourself you will have nothing to pull from when you sit down to create, or, in my case, write.
In order to help myself with this I have turned back to Julia Cameron's book The Artist Way. I spoke about her journaling practice, Morning Pages, in my last post. Today I want to speak about something else.
My favorite practice from her book is something she calls Artists Dates. These "dates" are with youself. No one else is invited to come. They should take at least an hour and they are the opportunity for you to explore something that catches your attention.
One time I drove to the beach by myself and watched the sunset. Another time I walked around an art supply store. I suppose all the hours I've spent wondering around a book store by myself would also count as an artist date.
But my favorite type of artist date requires me to really get my hands dirty. I'll go to Color Me Mine, or some place like it, and paint. I have to admit that I'm usually not alone for these dates. A family member or friend usually wants to go with me because painting is awesome. I am more than happy to include them but they have to put up with sporatic conversation and a lenghty visit. I am always there for at least three hours.
You just can't rush an artist date. The only exceptions to that rule where when I was painting with my young niece. On those occasions I did not have a project of my own to complete because there was no way I would have the time.
So, that is the artist date. Fantastic, right?
If you're not convinced, check out this video interview with Julia Cameron.
Check out this video where Julia Cameron explains the "Artist Date."