“Any extended period or piece of work draws heavily on our artistic well. Over-tapping the well, like overfishing the pond, leaves us with diminished resources.” So writes Julia Cameron, who says that the way to fill our artistic well is to go on a weekly “Artist’s Date” which will stimulate our senses and feed the artist in us. We must go to a movie, a play, an art museum, the library, the park, the beach—anywhere that will recharge, energize and inspire us.
Prompt: Do you have “artist’s dates”? Do you have a regular system for becoming recharged for your writing?
Oxygen to My Spirit
This last November, my mission trip to Bolivia took extra twists and turns. Due to luggage that got left behind, two of us had to wait in La Paz for several days for our luggage to arrive. On one of the days, we travelled to the beautiful Lake Titicaca, the highest freshwater lake in the world.
Now La Paz and Lake Titicaca are at altitudes of over 4,000 m (13,000 feet). I experienced for the first time what it was like to live with a diminished supply of oxygen.
As soon as we stepped out of the plane at La Paz, we had to breathe harder to get enough oxygen in our system. The next morning, I forgot about the rarified air and walked up four flights in our hotel. Suddenly I was puffing hard and my heart was pounding. When we walked up the hilly streets of La Paz, I had to stop frequently to catch my breath; I felt more depleted than I had on a strenuous hike in our Rocky Mountains.
Exertion in La Paz was much harder on my system than at lower altitudes.
There’s a meaning here for our writing life. Sometimes our writing can leave us with a diminished supply of ideas and creativity. Our ideas don’t flow as easily. It’s harder to write.
We need life-giving oxygen to our spirits.
For several years now, my weekly artist’s dates have provided that oxygen of sensory impressions and relational experiences. Although I have a variety of “dates,” my most common ones include:
- Browsing through quilting shops. As I browse through the fabrics and explore colours and designs, brush my fingers along the textures of fabrics and absorb the displays of finished quilts, I breathe in rich oxygen of beauty and ideas for my own quilting.
- Visiting my brother’s farm. I participate in seasonal changes of seeding, growing and harvesting times. I watch or help with cattle needs. As I work in the flower beds, I absorb the country air and the grand view of fields and neighbouring farm sites. I breathe in the oxygen of connection with my brother and an alternate lifestyle to my city living.
- Connecting with other people. Because I live alone, people times are important artist’s dates. A family gathering or a special lunch with friends, or a walk along the Bow River with my friend Jeanie and her dog Dallas, all fill me with the oxygen of relationship and a knowledge of how God is working in other people’s lives.
- Absorbing nature. I watch majestic sunrises on my morning walks, catch sight of mountains as I drive along Calgary’s streets, listen to a vesper sparrow as I walk along a country road in the evening or revel in the grandeur of the mountains on a hike. The language of landscape flows into me and fills my spirit with the oxygen of God and His creation.
Now it’s your turn. Tell us your experience with artist’s dates.