A woman standing in an art museum as part of an artist date.

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Have you ever taken your inner artist on a date? Does the concept intrigue you?

According to Julia Cameron, artist dates are a must for anyone who wants to cultivate their creativity. They provide essential ingredients—including solitude, inspiration, and reflection—that help you unleash your inner artist.

Keep reading to learn how weekly artist dates can spark creativity.

Julia Cameron on Artist Dates

According to Julia Cameron, artist dates are an excellent way to uncover and connect to your inner artist. First, we’ll briefly discuss the concept of the inner artist. Then, we’ll dig into the nuts and bolts of artist dates.

Cameron argues that human beings are creative by nature and that there’s a divine creative force that flows through all of us. This creative force is Cameron’s concept of “God.” She elaborates that you’re not required to call this force “God” or to associate it or yourself with any religion; however, to maximize your creative potential and attain your artistic destiny, you must believe in and learn how to tap into this force so it can flow through you and into your art. (Cameron refers to “art” as anything you use creativity to produce—art could be poetry, painting, philosophy, coding, developing new chemical compounds, and so on.)

The first step in tapping into the creative force, Cameron explains, is gaining an intimate connection to your inner artist—your deeper creative self that contains your seemingly crazy ideas, raw emotions, dreams, desires, and so on. This inner artist is a conduit for the creative force. The more intimate you are with this self, the more creative and artistically guided you’ll be.

Cameron recommends taking yourself on at least one fun solo adventure—an “artist date”—each week. For example, you can visit a new place, take yourself to lunch at a cool restaurant, or paint in the park. These solo excursions are the perfect opportunity for you to gain inspiration and reflect on some of the deeper thoughts, feelings, and ideas you may have uncovered in your morning pages.

Further, Cameron explains that solitude is crucial to connect with your inner artist—this is the time when your creative self recharges. Without time alone, you’ll grow farther from your inner artist and, according to Cameron, become disgruntled with yourself and others.

(Shortform note: Many experts agree that alone time boosts creativity, enhances self-understanding, improves mood, and increases social energy. However, they recognize some may struggle to be alone—for example, because they’re not used to it, end up ruminating, or view it as antisocial behavior due to societal stigma. To overcome these barriers, they recommend looking at “alone time” as “solitude.” This is beneficial because solitude traditionally has a more positive connotation; therefore, people will be less hesitant to try it and less likely to attach negative feelings (like loneliness, for example) to the experience.)

Exercise: Schedule an Artist Date

Cameron says you must routinely go on artist dates to foster your connection to the creative force and boost your creativity. In this exercise, you’ll brainstorm realistic artist date ideas for any budget, create a fun tool for picking your artist dates, and determine how to incorporate these adventures into your routine.

  1. Brainstorm at least 10 artist date ideas. Aim for three free dates, three low-budget dates, two mid-budget dates, and two high-budget dates. For example, a free date might be walking around a new neighborhood and making a hand-drawn map. A low-budget date might be preparing a personal picnic for the beach. A mid-budget date might be purchasing a new candle or a decorative item from the thrift store. A high-budget date might be taking yourself to a new exhibition in the nearest city.
  2. Based on your current budget, choose a date from the list you created. For example, if you want to treat yourself, select a high-budget date. If you don’t have money to spare, select a free date. Record your selected date.
  3. What else do you need to consider to make this date a reality? For example, do you need to ask the neighbor to watch your child or ensure that your partner doesn’t need to use the car at this time?
Julia Cameron: Artist Dates Are a Must for Creatives

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Julia Cameron's "The Artist's Way" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full The Artist's Way summary:

  • How you can overcome obstacles and blocks to reach your creative potential
  • An overview of Julia Cameron's 12-week program on accessing the creative force
  • Why many artists fall into addictions and how to resist them

Elizabeth Whitworth

Elizabeth has a lifelong love of books. She devours nonfiction, especially in the areas of history, theology, and philosophy. A switch to audiobooks has kindled her enjoyment of well-narrated fiction, particularly Victorian and early 20th-century works. She appreciates idea-driven books—and a classic murder mystery now and then. Elizabeth has a blog and is writing a book about the beginning and the end of suffering.

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