Well over a decade ago, I discovered a book that completely changed the way I approach life. It’s called The Artist’s Way. It’s a series of self-help books designed specifically for artists. Shout out to Julia Cameron for knowing that scattered creative brains need a system to flourish! I use many of the skills and tactics presented in those books to this day, particularly journaling right after waking up (something she calls “morning pages”).
But perhaps even more powerful than the morning pages was the idea that we should date ourselves.
Put away our phones and go out into the world by ourselves, and go on a proper date. Not bring along anyone else, because come on, bringing a third wheel? No. Just you, and your mind, and something inspiring, even romantic, to occupy you both.
Cameron called this the Artist Date; I tend to call it a Creative Date because not all forms of creativity are closely related to art
but still benefit from this principle.
Creative Dates are not easy, and that is exactly why they are important. Here’s a few of the challenges involved that are actually
blessings in disguise:
1) You have keep a commitment to yourself.
Read: You have to prove to yourself that you are worthy of not being pushed back or rescheduled. If you had landed a first date with someone so amazing you have to pinch yourself to believe you actually got this lucky, would you cancel because you felt sort of tired after the workweek? Or because your mom called? Of course not. Planning creative dates helps you practice setting healthy
boundaries and increases your sense of self-worth.
2) Being alone out in the world is uncomfortable.
Being comfortable with discomfort is important to helping you overcome creative blocks. Avoiding discomfort is a big part of what drives inconsistent output through procrastination, excuses, and giving up on projects halfway through. Increasing our tolerance for discomfort also helps us live more fearlessly. When you have that project proposal done or that potential client to call, it takes courage to follow through. And besides, have you ever stopped to ask yourself why it feels so uncomfortable to spend time by
yourself? Why does it feel weird, for instance, to go to the movies alone, when you just sit there in the dark in silence the whole time? Screw that noise. Get used to the discomfort and you can go see that weird indie film none of your
friends wanted to see SHAME FREE, and increase your creativity in the process. Win. Win.
3) You have to be disconnected from your phone and social media.
Being alone also means not being connected to social media. Turning your phone on Do Not Disturb for the entirety of the date is essential. But this is perfect, because being off our phones more often increases our focus and concentration and decreases the hold that addictive technologies have over our attention, so we can work deeply and effectively. So this is training
for your brain to turn the damn thing off for an hour or two.
4) You have to think outside the box.
Going on a date with another person usually involves thinking about the best environments for you to have a conversation and get to know one another better. But when you are dating your creative, the conversation is not the goal. Inspiration is the goal. So you might indeed take yourself out to a fancy dinner, but you might also go to your first heavy metal show and let yourself get sucked into a mosh pit. You can do WHATEVER YOU WANT. So long as you are doing it solo, and only talking to people as much as you
would if you actually were on a date. So you don’t need to stare down the pottery instructor without responding to her questions. But you aren’t going to let someone flirt with you by the bar either.
And the fun part is, the more creative dates you go on, the more out of the box you have to get to keep your creative interested.
And guess what? That increases your creativity.
Which is, duh – the whole point.
I have gone on many, many creative dates at this point. I have had some not so great dates (like that time I drove an hour out of town to an art exhibit I wanted to see only to find it was closed on Sundays – whoops). But I’ve had some downright amazing dates too. One of my favorites was making early dinner reservations at a very classy vegan restaurant in Santa Monica (Where
I had to conquer my discomfort by telling the hostess “Yes, that’s right ma’am, a table just for one”). I wined and dined and after dinner walked to the pier to watch the sunset over the ocean. My creative side swwwoooooned.
If you feel inspired to try this out yourself, but you aren’t sure where to start, I’ve put together a big list of creative date ideas to help the gears churning!
Where could you take your creative side on a date this week?