Have you ever dated yourself?

OK, that sounds weird, so I’d better explain. I’ve been reading Julia Cameron’s The Artists Way, having seen her concept of Morning Pages recommended as a solution for… well, multiple things, but especially for writer’s block. I’m not suffering from writer’s block, indeed my problem is more related to having sufficient time (and focus) to write, but far be it from me not to try out an interesting idea nevertheless πŸ˜‰

Before I go any further, let me say this post isn’t about Morning Pages, but about the Artist’s Date – another of the concepts which Julia Cameron suggests that we should make time for…. once a week, to indulge our artistic self. I’ve not read past that basic concept yet, but it struck an immediate chord. Even though I felt it was likely I’d not fulfil the brief every week, I liked the idea of striving to do so.

Art is my thing. In normal times, I go to galleries with selected friends (I can’t bear going to an exhibition with people who use the experience as a backdrop for their unconnected conversation), and I’ll always happily go on my own. I categorized Himself as a good gallery companion – except it turns out he’s been doing it just for me. He’s finally admitted he’d rather sit in the coffee shop and browse the internet while I enjoy the experience myself πŸ™‚ Regardless of how he decides to spend the time, we still talk about it afterwards, for he asks good questions, he’s a good listener, and he’s a dab hand at looking things up to share new knowledge and information with me about my thing.

But the Artist’s Date doesn’t have to be specifically about art, rather it’s about making time for the creative in you, whatever form that takes.

I have a passion for people watching which I’ve not been able to indulge for ages. I’m as happy as a sand boy sitting somewhere with a cappuccino and a pastry…. just watching. I take a book to read in case there really isn’t anyone about, but my primary tools are a notebook and pen. I make notes about what I observe – how people look, how they’re dressed, the sound of their voices, what they talk about, their mannerisms, anything I find interesting or noteworthy. As a writer, I love to weave the small details I’ve observed from life into my story in order to make a character feel more real.

This people watching activity will be expanded once I decide what compact camera to buy, as I’ll then be able to also walk around, observing and capturing people going about their everyday lives. When we go to military shows, I often leave Himself to photograph the “battles” and take myself off to a quiet corner to grab shots of the interesting characters who abound at such events. A long lens and a big camera feels too much like stalking and, as I prefer to strike a balance between discrete and open with my picture taking, a compact camera will make me less intrusive but still able to capture what I’m after.

I used to be a regular visitor at Farmer’s Markets – seeing all that gorgeous fresh produce piled up on stands, smelling the freshly baked offerings, tasting homemade condiments, selecting what cheese I’ll be taking home – you get the picture I’m sure πŸ™‚ London’s Borough Market is the absolute best, for it is simply huge, and it’s where I first tasted mulled apple juice (rather than wine), something which has now become a seasonal staple – but smaller local events are more easily visited. Our local market town has a big Italian population from the time when earlier generations were interned in prisoner of war camps during and post WWII, so the monthly Italian markets – once they start back up – are on my list for an indulgent wander. I anticipate they’ll provide plentiful opportunity for people watching and snapping.

I’m not going to lie, many a week these solo dates are simply a pot of tea, a cozy blanket, and a book – all enjoyed indoors on a rainy day, entirely without guilt about those undone chores and unticked off items on the lengthy to-do list.

I’m starting to think about other ways to spend my solo dates – so I’m really looking forward to hearing what other people might do to gain inspiration.

Would you go on a solo date? If so, what you would do? There doesn’t need to be anything artistic about it at all, although I know it will for LA! πŸ˜€


Β© Debra Carey, 2022

12 thoughts on “Have you ever dated yourself?

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  1. Here’s the thing, when Cameron’s book first came out I did all that she asked of me. I did the Morning Pages religiously for years, then realized I’d outgrown the concept so I shredded them all which was liberating. However I do think that writing those pages helped me feel comfortable with who I was so that years later I could write a blog.

    As for going on the Artist’s Dates I often went for walks somewhere new to me, then stopped for a drink and watched people. Or I went to a bookstore and perused a variety of magazines, to spark my creativity. Also I had some tarot cards back then and I’d give myself a reading as my date. Ideas for you, maybe?

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  2. When I’m out at a Farmer’s Market, it’s hard for me to think of it as anything other than a military campaign–get in, capture your objective as quickly as possible, and get out. Same with any kind of shopping, really.

    I tend to do my people watching while at the beach or a youth soccer game. Or any time I’m sitting around waiting for my child.

    When my kid was younger, I’d sometimes get a babysitter and escape with a book to a restaurant. My whole purpose was to ignore everyone.

    But now that activities are curtailed, I miss both interactions and just watching people.

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  3. Oh interesting Ally, thank you. My struggle with the pages is that I suffer with a form of RSI so writing for any length of time can be a strain. I’m thinking I may switch to typing, although I do get there’s something about the process of feeling ink on paper. With those I’ve written so far, it’s not so much the creativity I’ve tapped in to but insights about my professional life. Useful, but unexpected.

    I LOVE the idea of visiting bookstores on my dates. I rarely read real books, as most of my reading is on my e-reader, but I do love a good bookstore. There’s one in central London which is famous for travel books where I could lose myself for months, let alone one date. I shall start planning πŸ™‚ Interesting about the tarot cards. I saw someone start a blog about tarot, but it fell off my radar. I would love to learn more about interpreting the cards. Thanks Ally – great ideas πŸ™‚

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  4. Ha ha! Autumn, that is me during any shopping experience! I managed to regard Farmer’s Markets as indulgence rather than food shopping, which probably helped me to dawdle. Yup, waiting for the child does provide many a people watching and day dreaming opportunity. I’d quite forgotten, probably as my child is now nearing 40 πŸ˜‰ Just dawdling about and people watching are such pre-Covid activities. I’m sure we’re not the only ones missing them.

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  5. I am lucky enough to have the beach near by so going to the beach would be a good artist date for me. I also loved just exploring San Francisco when I did it last year for the A to Z. I considered those outings dates. Going to Michaels or JoAnns craft stores just to look around are good places for me too, although they are tricker than the beach or city exploring because I usually buy something!

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  6. Hi Janet πŸ™‚ Oh how lucky to have a beach nearby – that would make a perfect artist date for me too! The coast is about an hour’s drive from us and we do visit whenever we can, usually when the weather is clement enough to take our cameras with us. I’m fortunate in being able to go during the week because of my working arrangements, but Himself isn’t able to do so because of his, so I feel bad going by myself. I shall give myself a talking to and do it anyway. Any form of shop browsing is dangerous – I spent a fortune in our small local craft shop just before Christmas, so must stay away. But you’re right, that did count as a solo date for me as it was such fun πŸ™‚

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  7. I read The Artist’s Way years ago – the morning pages never worked for me. But the date is something I still do. In normal times, I’d just sit outdoors at a coffee shop and make random notes in a notebook – chatter overheard, how the leaves looked through the sunlight, the sound of the traffic. My date is now more solitary, but that, too, reflects on the world around me.

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  8. It’s been a long time since I went on a solo date. I used to love to go to new restaurants when I traveled for work. I’d sit at the bar and listen to others talk, while enjoying a new dish of food πŸ™‚

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  9. Hi Erika, people watching (and listening) is such a great pastime isn’t it. Enjoying a new dish comes pretty close too πŸ™‚

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  10. Hi Lee, I’m having problem with the pages due to my RSI when writing in pen, so I’m going to try typing them. My biggest issue with them is the time requirement. But the date sounded perfect. Funnily enough, I think Julia Cameron believes the date should be solitary, which the current world is imposing on us right now.

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