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Why you should go on regular solo dates

I’m just back from a mini break in London. Usually when going ‘down south’ it’s for a specific event or exhibition but this time I just wandered around a few different places including the V and A, National Gallery, Royal Academy of Arts with no particular exhibit to see or agenda in mind. I also tried some new ingredients at a restaurant called Kin + Duem and new combinations of flavours at Notto pasta bar . I’ve come back feeling refreshed, revived and inspired for work and personal projects. This reminded me of the importance of having regular solo dates or Artist Dates as the author Julia Cameron calls them.

What is an Artist Date?

Author Julia Cameron describes the artist date in her book The Artist’s Way and Artist’s Way at Work (coauthored with Mark Bryan and Catherine Allen) as being a “once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you. The Artist Date need not be overtly “artistic”– think mischief more than mastery. Artist Dates fire up the imagination. They spark whimsy. They encourage play.” And play is what helps refresh, revive and renew you ready take on home and work projects with enhanced creativity and productivity. You can read more about the benefits of play in my blog here.

Benefits of regular Artist Dates

Gives you clarity on difficult issues and helps solve problems

When something or someone is making you feel stressed and anxious and you’re not sure what your next step should be, go on an artist date. They give you dedicated time NOT THINK about IT. Focusing on something else helps clear your mind. It allows your creative brain make connections between different things thereby helping you to solve problems.

Helps keep you inspired and motivated

Regular exposure to new experiences, sights, sounds, smells and tastes gives you new perspectives and therefore sparks new ideas for projects. This is one way to keep your work fresh and you motivated.

Reduces stress and anxiety

These experiences release feel good endorphins to reduce stress. They can be a form of mindfulness helping you to be in the present moment to reduce anxiety and worry.

Encourages self discovery and development

Solo artist dates give you the time and space to indulge in your desires and dreams. This self discovery can help you in your current and future work and relationships by highlighting your likes and dislikes.

How to go on an Artist Date

Make it solo and standalone. Julia Cameron recommends not combining it with other things on your do-to list like popping to the supermarket.

Make it at least 1 hour – however, even 30 mins could be beneficial.

Make it regular, ideally once a week. However, if this seems just too much, start off with a monthly date. Schedule it into your calendar as a regular appointment.

Plan ahead. Brainstorm a list of things you would like to do and then you don’t have to waste time thinking about what to do. You can simply progress through your list.

Determine how you might capture your inspired thoughts and ideas. You could buy a nice paper journal, download a journal app, voice record your ideas on your phone, discuss them with a good friend / coach / mentor regularly.

Examples of Artist Dates

  • Visit a museum, gallery, historic house. See the benefits in my blog here.

  • Visit a place of worship and be inspired by the art and icons. Learn about their beliefs and customs.

  • Go to a concert or play, especially in a genre which is new to you.

  • Download some new music for your playlist in a different genre or go listen to something in a vintage record store.

  • Look through the shelves of a library or bookshop. Flick through books on subjects that you normally wouldn’t.

  • Browse an antiques shop, car boot sale, flea market. What unique items can you find?

  • Enjoy a garden or wildlife sanctuary trip.

  • Explore a new neighbourhood or one you used to live in.

  • Walk along a beach, river or lake. Pick up interesting shells, stones, drift wood, etc.

  • Take a bike ride or hike and be open to the sights, sounds and smells you can experience.

  • Eat in a new restaurant and try a cuisine or ingredient you’ve never had before.

  • Buy something from a speciality food store or farmer’s market and then go home to eat it or make something with it.

  • Browse recipes and make something new.

  • Learn something new via a You Tube class.

  • Start a language class online.

  • Get creative with some of your photos – make a collage or simply frame some.

  • Try a new hobby.

  • Try a new form of physical activity.

Over to you

The above list is just some ideas. What type of things will you do?

I’d love to hear about them.


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