I DON'T KNOW if I'd go so far as to say that reading Julia Cameron's The Artist Way jumpstarted my strong desire to bake the perfect sourdough loaf -- WAIT, my timer just went off, I've gotta attend to fold 1. As of the publishing of this post, I'm exponentially more comfortable handling dough (70-75% hydration) and not panicking when it gets stuck between my fingers. A big leap from a month and a half ago when I first started. I was never that kid that liked 'guck' to play with. Give me legos and super solids and I'll run free. But I digress.
Early in The Artist Way is a section about taking yourself on an artist date. A practice of allotting time that is sacred and unbending to the interjections of third-party suggestions, protest, and intermingling. A time to entertain the child artist in you; visiting museums, art centers, movies, a play, or simply staying at home tinkering away at a craft (this one is me). This landed me somewhere between a mild scoff of indignation and a revelatory sigh. Sometimes you're experiencing a lifestyle that was molded by scarcity and gratitude in equal measure and it takes an outside text to feel some validity. I'm speaking for myself of course, but please chime with where you land. Have I been doing "Me time" wrong? Turns out, Me Time isn't the end-all-be-all of self-care. In the same way that running an errand to the grocery store is work, but not work, Me Time isn't alone in the space for self-care.
The idea of taking yourself on an artist date and making sure you treat that time as sacred and binding goes back to the idea that imagination is fundamental to our creative selves. And when we're feeling creative that's when we have room to do our best work, regardless if you're an artist or not. I believe in that. You might be asking, "What about "me time", isn't that the same thing?". I think you'll need to decide for yourself. I work better by compartmentalizing tasks so for me, "Me time" and "Artist date" are two separate things with two different purposes. They help create balance and build the capacity for my best work to emerge.
This post was originally supposed to be about bread. I'm sitting back laughing at the absurdity of sitting down to write about bread but instead talking about this book. A book that I've owned for a couple of years before I cracked into it and started reading in earnest. And if I'm being honest, I'm opting for the "What seems fun and engaging" approach to tackling it as opposed to combing it obsessively. In fact, if I glossed over it correctly, it does suggest a loose approach as it applies to your life and where/when it finds you.
If I can impart one practice I've vigilantly employed it's the morning pages.
Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. *There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages*– they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page...and then do three more pages tomorrow.
I'm partial to plain softcover moleskins notebooks but listen, you work with what you're comfortable returning to day after day. Oh! The bread timer is up, this dough isn't going to fold itself.