Alone time doesn't get enough credit. College students are clouded by an implicit expectation to be ruthlessly social. It's easy to feel like you need to constantly surround yourself with other people--even like you can't do things alone at all. In reality, however, setting aside alone time can fuel your creativity and personal growth. An "Artist Date" is a much-needed dose of inspiration, and college is the perfect time to take yourself out on one.
Bestselling author--and artist and poet and teacher and journalist--Julia Cameron coined the term "Artist Date" in The Artist's Way. Cameron outlines an Artist Date as time set aside, preferably once a week, to do something alone that interests you. The effects are magical. "Artist Dates fire up the imagination," Cameron gushes. "They spark whimsy. They encourage play. Since art is about the play of ideas, they feed our creative work by replenishing our inner well of images and inspiration." And Artist Dates are not only for artists. They are for anyone searching for inspiration. They are for anyone in need of a break from other people. They are for anyone compelled to learn about their world outside of classes and work. College students are in the perfect position to begin practicing Artist Dates for personal and creative growth.
Today, after two brutal exams, I took myself out on an Artist Date. Tallahassee offers plenty of options even within walking distance of the Florida State University campus. On a drizzly afternoon, I walked to Calvin's Coffee House, an eclectic coffee shop, study space, and art gallery. I took my time savoring both a cappuccino and a unique atmosphere of pendant lights, framed art, and worn couch cushions. I pulled out my favorite pen and notebook and started writing for pure enjoyment, letting my thoughts flow without constraint. After reaching the bottom of my coffee cup, I visited the FSU Museum of Fine Arts, taking time to examine every single artwork at my own pace. I felt stress and tension melting away as I enjoyed a moment of slowness and silence.
Every new experience slightly shifts the lens you view your world through. On the foggy walk home from the museum, my head felt strikingly clear. I felt more relaxed and more open. After a rough morning of exams, the Artist Date refreshed me with a new fount of experiences to source inspiration from in the future. I ended the day with caffeine in my blood and a jumble of scribbled ideas in my notebook.
Now, are you ready to give an Artist Date a try? Here in Tallahassee, the options are endless. Explore the art galleries and quirky shops at Railroad Square. Go thrifting. Take advantage of a free concert. Go to an open mic night. If you keep your eyes open, you can find countless other opportunities to stretch your creativity and comfort zone. And if you still don't know what to do on your Artist Date, Julia Cameron offers a brilliantly liberating piece of advice: "When choosing an Artist Date, it is good to ask yourself, 'What sounds fun?'-- and then allow yourself to try it."