Replenishing the Creative Well

Last week I wrote about morning pages, a tool to access one’s creative well and to regain creativity if you have lost sight of it. This is something Julia Cameron describes in her book The Artist’s Way. 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 from the well of creativity, what Cameron calls the artist date can be looked 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.

As I am writing this, I realize I haven’t been nourishing my creative self for quite a long time. It’s been a lot of work lately. There has been time off, too, but spent with friends, family and love ones. It’s time to allocate some time for myself—and only for myself. Maybe go to a concert or maybe just take a couple of hours off, buy a cafe latte and sit down by the water contemplating life and what is good about it.

45 thoughts on “Replenishing the Creative Well

  1. I love the idea of a date with the artist inside me Otto. That really does make a lot of sense. I’ve been terribly busy of late putting together a complete series of my minimalist snow pictures for a panel of 21. Processing, printing, testing new media, what paper types work best. It’s been all consuming and I realise I need some time off from it. Me time sounds good for both of us by the sound of things.
    With some unusually warm sunny weather here in the UK at the moment, I think I’ll just go off and enjoy the sunshine tomorrow and relax. Perfect. Thank you for the reminder to take care of that that is so important within us. Enjoy your ‘me’ time Otto! Take care. 🙂

  2. What I love about your posts is that they’re so inspiring, but also so practical. I can’t think of better advice for connecting with creativity than the suggestions you’ve shared here and in your “morning pages” post. Thank you, Otto.

  3. Great suggestions! And it works like you describe! In and out! I’m just back from Arles for “Les rencontres”, seen many exhibitions, photos, met interesting people…now what I need is just to settle down a little bit all the emotions, make a little bit of order in my brain…and the morning pages before coffee are a good way to do it!

  4. That is a very nice thought about having time off just for your self. It seems like just time needed to re-connect with inner self … sounds very good.

    1. It’s easy to fall off the wagon; morning pages does take some commitment. I know, and have often had a hard time taking the necessary time, when the rest of the house is up and calling for you. 🙂

  5. i don’t recall that part of ‘the artist’s way’… but it does sound like a good idea, for replenishing almost anything really 🙂

      1. i lost my copy of the artist’s way… i might have to buy it again… i need to take up these practices again 🙂 thanks for the reminder

  6. I need to do this myself. My adult daughter moved in with me last fall, and since then I have seldom been alone at home. I also feel obligated to invite her along whenever I go somewhere. I love my daughter and we get along well, but I crave solitude and begin to feel rather desperate for it. Thanks for the reminder about artist’s dates. I’m going to put that weekly time ON MY CALENDAR and claim that space for myself alone. I need it for my mental health just as much as for my creativity.

  7. And even for those of us who live primarily in solitude, this advice is important. I need to take time not to be alone — I’m alone all day, every day, at work, with plenty of time for musing — but to do something different, out of the ordinary. Finding a new bayou, taking a new road, finding a new gallery — can leave me remarkably refreshed.

  8. I love the idea of an Artists Date, I do recall that from the book. And it’s something that I’ve been neglecting lately, thank you for the reminder to take some time out and just enjoy myself.

  9. Thank you for sharing inspiration, with the reminder to make these practices regular activities. I’m failing at “regular” but I’m going to work on this.

  10. I like this concept of an artist’s date. While I’ve always thought it important to have down time, this concept of an artist’s date is not really down time, but active exploration. I can see how it could jumpstart creativity and build on what I’ve been thinking about perhaps unconsciously, and put it in motion.

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