My top 5 Nourishing Artist Date Ideas for The Artist's Way

My top 5 Nourishing Artist Date Ideas for The Artist's Way

Are you feeling stuck creatively? Do you find yourself lacking inspiration and motivation? Do you feel like it's difficult to find the time to treat yourself to something refreshing and new? In my experience, time isn't something we find, it's something we create. If you're feeling like the well is running dry, it's time to take yourself on an Artist Date.

In the book "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron, The Artist Date is one of two important tools for creative recovery. The other one is Morning Pages, a daily journaling practice. 

Why do both?

While journaling is a method for creative output, The Artist Date is a method for creative input.

Artist dates are for filling the well. It's a dedicated time for you to nurture your creativity by exploring new or fun experiences. But there's a catch - you have to go on these dates by yourself. And what I should really say is with yourself. And the recommendation is to make time to do this, in one way or another, once a week.

Artist dates are like little adventures for your soul. Scheduling one for yourself can give your inner creative child what it really wants (play! color! sensory delight! freedom!) and breathe new fresh air into your life. Last year I led a small Artist's Way book study group with some folks I practice yoga with, and was so inspired by some Artist Date ideas that came up in our reflections and in my experiences, and I wanted to share some that I found especially nourishing.

Remember, artist dates are not just about the activity itself but about giving yourself permission to explore, be present, and feel curious and free. Here are 5 ideas for Artist Dates that are meditative, calming, and freeing.

1. Browsing the thrift store: a meditation on interest.

Thrift stores are emporiums of variety. For some of my artist dates, I started going and getting lost in what felt like endless time just combing through the vast variety of many different styles, colors, and textures. I didn't even buy anything. If you do this, you will begin to notice the little part of your consciousness that is always noting your likes and dislikes. Some of these were unexpected for me. I did this with clothes, glassware, kitchen utensils, books, and art and truly felt it was putting me in touch with a part of my awareness that is already there but that I usually don’t see in action. It was a silent meditation on interest, and it offered a surprising sense of delight. 

2. Going on a solo bike ride: a sense of freedom

Riding a bike is a full body activity. There is no room to multi-task when you’re holding on to the handlebars and navigating ups, downs, turns, and traffic. On a bike path I feel so free, like no one can mess with me. I can’t look at my phone, and there’s no one else to talk to. Even if you encounter someone while riding a bike, they’re gone before they can even say anything to you. Getting in touch with visual perception (like checking out which plants are flowering or what berries are on the path) and body perception (the way you naturally regulate your pace and bike gears to be comfortable) puts one in a very specific kind of present state. I believe the freedom of this makes for a great artist date. Being alone, remember to be safe and let someone else know where you are going and when.

3. Ethical foraging: to be present with local land and feel what arises 

Foraging for herbs, flowers, or ink/dye making materials is a beautiful experience, especially when practiced appropriately with honor to the land and interspecies communities around you. If you need to venture out of your home, make sure you have permission to forage. There are also some invasive plants that people actually would prefer you forage! For where I live, it's buckthorn berries. I've been told to "please, take them all!". The best outline for reciprocal foraging practices I know of can be found here on Tilke Elkins' website. It is calming and connecting to be with the land in this way and provides tactile and meaningful experiences in nature, which is nourishing to the creative spirit. 

4. Something you don't normally do: learn to set your identity aside

For me, this was going to the nail salon. I usually don't really care at all what my nails look like, and most of the time they get cracked and dirty anyway. I don't see myself as "the kind of person to get my nails done". What does that even mean?! Going to the nail salon allowed me to check myself, set my identity aside, and just embrace and enjoy an experience that I don't normally value. And guess what? I started to value it! The fun of looking through the color options, and then the outcome of looking down at my hands and seeing how nice they look actually provides me with joy now. Watching the nail tech expertly craft my nails into perfect shapes is relaxing. It's also grounding because I can't do anything with my hands, so it sort of forces me into a distraction-free space. 

Me and my super pink happy nails:


5. Open sitting practice: filling yourself from within

Often artist dates are suggested as activities for going out into the world, but this one is for going within. Meditation is a journey that doesn't require physical footsteps. And it can be simple. The meditation I like to do when I want to make space for creative ideas to emerge freely is starting by taking slow deep breaths, or even a long nadi shodhana (alternate nostril breathing). Then, I let go of that and allow my awareness to be very open. Every time my mind tries to "do something" or focus on something and I notice, I just gently drop it and relax back into openness. Openly let your awareness take a walk - let it land on whatever, but don't hold it anywhere. Doing this can release the grip of the mind and allow for creative energy to come freely without so many obstacles in the way. 


Artist Dates are a way for us to practice prioritizing pleasure and play - something that can be hard for a lot of people in the world we live in that is so focused on productivity.  I truly believe making a little time for myself like this makes me a better and more happier person, and a more energized artist. Whether you are going through The Artist's Way book or just wanting to implement some helpful practices of filling your creative well, I hope these have inspired you!