Margaret Mizushima is the author of the Timber Creek K-9 police procedural series, set in the Colorado Rockies. You can find out more about her here, see her books here, and read her latest post here.
Years ago (Could it possibly have been twenty?) I came across a book by Julie Cameron and Mark Bryan titled The Artist’s Way: A Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self. Many of you have probably read this book, and it’s still popular today. The book wasn’t meant to be just for writers. The lessons in it inspire creativity of any form, from painting and sculpture to creating a business plan or marketing campaign.
Here is the book’s cover flap description: “The Artist’s Way is an empowering book for aspiring and working artists. With the basic principle that creative expression is the natural direction of life, Julie Cameron and Mark Bryan lead you through a comprehensive twelve-week program to recover your creativity from a variety of blocks, including limiting beliefs, fear, self-sabotage, jealousy, guilt, addictions, and other inhibiting forces, replacing them with artistic confidence and productivity.”
This book jumped at me from the shelf during a time in my previous career when I’d been working hard for decades as a service provider and business owner in a tumultuous medical industry. I was burned out. I grabbed a copy, began following the twelve-week program, and found a novelist buried inside me yearning to write. Thus began an ongoing cycle for me of learning, creating, revising, and learning, which continues today.
The Artist’s Way employs two basic tools: Morning Pages and the Artist Date. Morning Pages are three pages of journal writing each morning before your day starts, spilling whatever is in your mind onto the page; while the Artist Date involves taking yourself on a date, all alone, to replenish your creative energy. It involves things like going to a museum, going on a hike, or going to a fair or market to sample unfamiliar sights, tastes, and sounds.
The Artist Date is a powerful way to fill your creative well, to open yourself to insight, inspiration, and guidance. Early in my journey, I tried going to local museums, art fests, and sidewalk bazaars, but I soon learned that what truly filled my creative well was going into nature. This led to a weekly hike in green spaces and in the mountains, even spending time outside with our dogs. I treasured these times and always came home filled with creative energy.
Things have become so busy nowadays that I have trouble taking a day off for a hike. The lockdown during the pandemic took its toll on public places, and even some of the national parks were closed to visitors. But now things are opening up, and it’s time to restore the artist dates in my schedule—I just need to find activities that are close at hand. And I’d like to have a wide variety of things to sample.
So…I’m curious. What do you do to fill your creative well?