Replenishing the Creative Well

I want to follow up last week’s post about morning pages – which is, just as a reminder, a tool that Julia Cameron describes in her book The Artist’s Way to access one’s creative well and regaining creativity again. But just as important, and as part of the creative development, is to replenish that creative well. While morning pages can be look upon as withdrawals, what Cameron calls the artist date can be look upon as deposits. Every so often we need to fill up the well with new impulses and give ourselves some nice experiences without having to be creative ourselves.

Cameron writes: «Think of this combination of tools in terms of a radio receiver and transmitter. It’s a two-step, two-directional process: in and then out. Doing your morning pages, you are sending – notifying yourself and the universe of your dreams, dissatisfaction, hopes. Doing your artist date, you are receiving – opening yourself to insight, inspiration, guidance».

The artist’s date is nothing but a treat to yourself. Going to a concert. Enjoying a moment of silence. Going for a walk. Watching a movie. Treating yourself with a nice meal. Visiting an art museum. Doing meditation. The important thing is that is has to be done by you and you only. No friends, no spouse, no kids, no lover, no dog, no colleague is allowed to come along. It’s a date with the artist within you, and only the two or you. Your inner artist needs to be taken out, to be pampered with and listened to. It doesn’t even have to cost anything. If you are running love on money, take a solo trip to the beach, visit a great junk store, make yourself an omelette or watch an old movie. It’s not about money, it is the time commitment that needs to be fulfilled. An artist date is a block of time, perhaps two hours weekly, especially set aside and committed to nurturing your creative consciousness, your inner artist. For both the morning pages and the artist date to work, you need to do it consistently over a longer period. Just as you need to write those three morning pages every day – every day – you need to treat yourself with an artist date every week – every week.

Cameron again: «As artists, we must learn to be self-nourished. We must become alert enough to consciously replenish our creative resources as we draw on them – to restock the trout pond, so to speak».

So go out there and have some fun. And know that it’s only doing good for your creative self. As a matter of fact it’s necessary.

This is all I will talk about The Artist’s Way this time. If you would like to know more about making your creative self blossom, have a look a Cameron’s book. As for myself I have a whole week of artist date ahead of me. As I am writing this I am in Park City, Utah. It’s during Sundance Film Festival, so I am in for a lot of movies the next week – and hopefully some powder skiing, too.


58 thoughts on “Replenishing the Creative Well

  1. Cameron’s thoughts are so nice… and right…. I agree with her. In another word (saying in my words) art feeds us in many ways… Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful book with us, dear Otto. It is always so nice to read your posts. Have a nice and enjoyable week, with my love, nia

  2. Lucky me gets ‘artist dates’ , or time on my own, several times a week (depending on the weather). I couldn’t do without this time to myself – it’s essential to my health and wellbeing (let alone my creative side).

    I see so many people who can’t function without some form of structure in their day or shared company. They constantly have to be on the go, aquiring material possessions, scoring goals or increasing wealth.

    They rarely experience the Simple Joy of Silence or the Soothing Sounds of Nature.

    Most people don’t know how to Just Be.

  3. These two look like characters. I hope you have a great time in Utah! I think I’ll take your lead and get outside today too. Thanks for the inspiration. I’ll have to work on consistency though 🙂

  4. Though I’m not a big fan of Cameron, I do agree with the artist’s date concept. It’s essential to check in to the muse on a regular basis. We can’t keep the lines of communication open between our heart and the muse without quiet reflection time alone. Busy brain chatter will always drown out the whispers of spirit. Nice post…..

  5. Neat photo. Are they American Indians?

    Thanks for spreading the word about Julia Cameron’s concepts. “The Artist’s Way” has made a big difference in my life.
    When I’m pressed for time (or trying to save gas ), I try to work-in “mini dates”; for example, when I’m shopping at Wal Mart, I’ll take 10 minutes to go to the craft section & enjoy the colorful beads, paints, glitter, & other supplies. Even this short “date” helps re-charge me.

  6. I’m reading “Vein of Gold” by Julia Cameron. She also talks about morning pages and artist date in that book and has lots of helpful advice.
    Enjoy Sundance Film Festival – I’ve skied there many times. Beautiful country – You’re close to my neck of the woods. You should be able to get a lot of good photos there with the recent (and needed) pounding of snow.

  7. Power skiing! Wonderful photo my friend and such a wise post. Thanks for sharing as I always appreciate your words of knowledge. Hope you are having a good week!

  8. Thanks for sharing all these great Ideas. I am running short of creativity in me, so I really needed this one. Enjoy the whole week of date ahead of you. 🙂

  9. Sundance! How wonderful, and you’re so right, that will nourish your creative spirit! I’m not the best at morning pages, I must admit, but I’m REALLY good at taking myself out to nourish that spark! I love to get out to concerts, art museums and nature…and sometimes i do just enjoy all by my lonesome! Thanks for the Julia Cameron reminders! Debra

  10. Artist dates have to become part of our life if we like it to be creative. Ideas come in, ideas go out, ideas are elaborated and we must keep the process ongoing. Thanks for reminding it.

  11. So often I feel as we are sitting face to face having a creative conversation. Photo walking by myself are treasured times I allow my inner spirit and emotions to quietly connect with the surroundings and from those times by myself I capture the best photo’s.

    Your image in this post is so ‘believable’ in the moment. Thank you for your inspiration.

  12. I’ve read The Artist’s Way several times. I tend to turn to morning pages in difficult times, and they do seem to help me find a way through. Then I get tired of hearing myself and give them up until the next time. I wish I could remember to do artist’s dates, though. It seems like a good idea, but somehow it just never happens, at least not deliberately.

  13. I listened to Q (An excellent CBC Radio program) done from the Sundance Film Festival. Hope you have a lot of fun, Otto. The idea of an Artist’s Date is critical to our need for being fed. It’s all too easy to neglect ourselves and forget to stir the honey pot inside us!

  14. Creativity’s all well and good but what I need
    now is exposure, lest I find myself broke with
    no job skills anyone wants.

    I go for walks, but I bring two dogs – they
    go out so rarely I feel I have to bring them – I suppose
    I’m alone with my muse only within the virtual landscape
    of my video games, and still, there is the cat. Which
    leads me to wonder – if you factor in animals, can
    one ever be truly alone?

    1. It is frustrating when there is a lack of exposure. The only thing we can do then is to keep working creatively and at the same time push on to get the work exposed. I wish you all the best with both.

      I don’t think animals get in the way of having time for oneself. I think it really depends on your own routines. It’s like having kids around – I have had and have both kids and animals – they require a lot of time and attention, but still I need time for myself and find it.

  15. I love your photos! They tell such a story. I’m almost tempted to pick one and write a story based one it. I also love the idea od and artist date. What a novel idea. It’s also like a treat to one’s self. It’s like we’re allowing ourselves to typeset aside a special time so we can explore and express our creativity. It could also be a valuable tool in a personal journey.

  16. Pingback: Art to Inspire |
  17. The thing to remember about the artist’s date is as you said:
    ” it’s a treat for yourself. Go to a concert. Enjoy a moment of silence. Go for a walk. Watch a movie. Treat yourself to a nice meal. Visit an art museum. Meditate. The important thing is that is has to be done by you and you only.”

    I also love the photo. I’m going to check the link of the only Nolans in Dolan.

  18. I think the longer artist dates are important, but I love spending an hour alone puttering with the extensive streptocarpus colection I grow under lights: grooming, feeding, repotting, photographing the plants, etc. It is always theraputic (feeds my soul), and my indoor light garden is such an oasis during the cold winter months: See my photostream on Flickr:

    I made the light stand myself by outfitting an assemble-yourself microwave cart with lights (a $10 clip-on lamp over the top shelf and two 18″ fluorescent fixtures over each of the bottom shelves).


    1. I like you photos of the streptocarpus, and your home-made light equipment is well used. It almost looks like the flowers are lit by sunlight, particularly Bristol’s Ribbon Candy–2011_10_07.

  19. Superb post, Otto! It’s easy to get so wrapped up in the busy day to day of our work that we forget to take some time out to replenish the well. Thanks for reminding us to take the time to do that!

  20. Replenishing our creative juices is a must do for every artist. It fuels back that fire, that burning fire that inspires us to create something beautiful, thrilling, moving, timeless. For me, it’s going to new places with my family, meeting new people, going through my memory archives of the past events that made me so happy, of course it does not hurt to show a piece of pain and sadness every now and then…it’s part of being human. Thanks for today’s inspiration . Always full of helpful insights. Have a great day!

  21. I too often long for a break – all alone with myself. But rarely I get such an opportunity and I am badly in need of one. After reading this post I seriously considering it. Thanks for sharing.

  22. i think i’ll make an artist’s date soon, and spend it reading your archives! that’s something i keep nudging myself to do, but i have so many other pending artist dates!!!! i’m lucky that i am able to tap into that often and for long periods of time.

    1. You can’t really have too many artists date – except time doesn’t always allow for as much as we could want for. Thanks for the nice words, Lisa.

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