Kindle Your Creativity: How to Have a Date with Curiosity.

artist's dates creativity curiosity dates freedom wayfinder life coach Aug 24, 2023

***PSSSST - in a hurry to get started?  Skip to the 'How to Do It' section below!

“What entices your inner 8-year-old?” 

– Julia Cameron, Write for Life.

Have you heard of Artist's Dates?  This expression was coined by Julia Cameron in her seminal book, "The Artist's Way".  But I didn't take her up on them properly for years.  I'll tell you why.


Way back in 1992, Julia Cameron, author and workshop facilitator, shared in the brilliant book The Artist's Way, her idea that we need an 'Artist's Date' to help us nurture our inner creator.  It "fills the well" of our creative inspiration.  And it's not just for authors but for anyone in need for more creativity. 

We get help with creative solutions to solving patient's cases; for inspiration to write a blog; to have a brainwave about hiring a cleaner; to work out how to speak to stinky Aunt Maude about the fact that it really is time she considered deodorant.

Why do we need Curiosity?

Most of us are overwrought, overworked and overwhelmed.  We have too much to do, and too little time.

Moblie phones assault us with the views of 100 people before breakfast (the majority we haven't even met); work and worries about work - whether we're busy or yearning for more clients - seem to take up more time than we have available; prioritising family needs and running homes means we're multitasking our way through several full time jobs at once and often feeling like we can't do any of it well enough.

The solution to this is not "WORK HARDER!".  This is the myth of our capitalist, linear growth, consumer sales driven economy.  Growth at all costs.  Growth for its own sake.  )In my opinion it's not working out so well just now as planetary resources are finite).  It's like pushing on a 'pull' door.

Our internal resources are also finite. Growth and being driven at all costs end up in misery and put a strain on our bodies and immune systems.  Burnout is real.  The pull door stays shut.

One way to help is to follow your curiosity in a structured way.

Because, when we're curious, we get to PLAY.


Why not 'Artist's' Date?

Well, I said I'd tell you.

I now call it a Curiosity Date because I felt an inner pressure with the phrase 'Artist's Date'.  That, somehow, I should be artistic.  That maybe I had to be writing something, drawing or painting something - even if that wasn't Julia Cameron's intention.  But a 'curiosity' date does the same thing without activating my inner perfectionist.  After all, how do you perfect curiosity?

Call it what you prefer, and always with a nod to Julia Cameron, the idea is to whisk yourself away from all the day to day stuff of your life, once a week, and take yourself alone to somewhere you're curious about.  It could be fun, it could be interesting, it could be reassuring.  But it needs to be interesting, playful and different.

You'll find it helps unblock and unstick you.

You know the score.  You're struggling with some mental wrangle:

  • What's my next business project? 
  • What's my life purpose?
  • I'm fed up with posting out remedies but I can't think of a different way to do it.

Thinking harder won't help.  We try it over and over until we're sick of the inner hamster wheel of our brain whirring and getting nowhere.  Try being different instead.

And chances are, you'll feel revived, like you've had some serious self care, more energised and, well, frankly, you'll probably be more interesting too!


What could you do on a Curiosity Date?

You could:

  • visit an aquarium
  • explore a cathedral
  • walk along a canal and explore the locks you've never been to before
  • go to your garden centre and explore plants that love shade
  • stroke rabbits in your local pet shop
  • browse your favourite stationery or art supply store
  • riffle through vinyl LPs in a local record shop

They involve leaving your home, being alone, for a couple of hours or so.  And how to choose?  

What are you curious about?  What little 'pull' can you feel towards something you could explore.  What ideas bubble to the surface?  What has a twinge of sweetness?

As we explore something new and unexpected we gain IQ as we de-stress. We call in our whole brain not just our overworked, rational left brain.  And we allow 'far transfer' to happen as our brains find solutions to problems by subconsciously opening up related files in different, farflung parts of our brains stimulated by our new situation (thanks to David Epstein's book Range for that one).

'What do fish teach me about the way I could enhance my business?' we think, below the surface of our awareness.   An idea for a blog post arises as we watch a narrow boat rise within the confines of the lock.  We don't force anything, and it's okay if nothing comes.  We really do it for its own sake.

And as we get curious - the antidote to anxiety, as Martha Beck calls it - we downregulate our nervous system, complete stress cycles and reduce burnout (read the Nagoski sister's book Burnout for more).


 ***Start here if short of time!


Over the next few weeks set aside 2 hours per week to go on a Curiosity Date.  Find time to do something just for fun.  Ask your inner 8 year old what she or he would love to do!  What is calling you, beckoning to you, to go and explore?  Where does your heart's desire take you?  What would replenish you?  Fill your well?  Give back instead of taking?


Tips for curiosity dates

  • Schedule time in your diary and ringfence it.
  • Choose somewhere to go in advance, so you don't waste time trying to decide.
  • Go alone.  Don't chat on your phone or bring your dog.
  • It needn't be expensive.  And it needn't sound flashy.  It's whatever appeals to you. 
  • It doesn't need to be perfect.  You have another 51 you can play with over the next year should you wish - plenty of time to try different things.  The point is just that. To Try.
  • Set a timer if you wish so you don't have to check your watch.
  • You don't need to produce, solve or create anything.
  • Just enjoy yourself!  



Email me and tell me WHEN, WHERE and WHAT YOU'RE HOPING TO DO!  You don't need to do it this week, just come up with some ideas.  You could share one, or your top 10. I'm up for it all!

I'd love to hear - the inner extrovert in me loves to be part of a team.  And I'd love to have a list of what people plan to get up to share with those that are struggling for inspiration.  So do let me know.

So drop me a line via email, Instagram or Facebook DM and I'll shout from the rooftops!  Holloa around the square!  Whoop through the Woods!  All to celebrate your achievement.

Happy Freedom!

Joanna x

P.S. Need more inspiration?  Here's an article by Julia Cameron herself on Artist's Dates.  And one of my FAVOURITE ever podcasts - The Gathering Pod by Martha Beck with a related episode.

P.P.S.  You can do your first Curiosity Date this week.  Or just come up with ideas and plan it in next week.  You'll find yourself getting unstuck, having more ideas, feeling refreshed and generally being more fun to be around!