Thursday, April 27, 2017

Filling the Creative Well

by Sue Heavenrich

Earlier this month Christy shared a passel of great ideas for what to do to “blast through writer’s block”. Reading her post reminded me of the “artist dates” that Julia Cameron advocates in her book, The Artist’s Way. 

Cameron encourages writers (and other artists) to take time for themselves in doing activities that “fill the well” of creativity. She calls these once-a-week encounters “artist dates”. The thing is, Cameron explains, that they are things you do to explore something that interests you, fires up your imagination, sparks whimsy, encourages play. They are activities that “feed our creative work by replenishing our inner well of images and inspiration,” she says.

There are no rules about how to do artist dates other than to ask yourself: what sound fun? And then allow yourself to try it – even if it is something you have never done before. In that spirit, I share a year’s worth of artist dates I have done or intend to try, plus those gleaned from fellow writers and illustrators. Try one; try them all – and add your own ideas to the list. 

Around the home and yard:

  • Listen to classical music (or the Hamilton sound track)
  • Read a book – even cartoon paperbacks
  • Put on some dance music and move
  • Find streets/ buildings/ places in your town you have never been to before
  • Bake or cook something
  • Watch a movie
  • Grow a mini-garden in your kitchen
  • Make a blanket fort, snuggle in with books and hot cocoa
  • Find some postcards; then write notes on them and mail them to friends

Take a field trip:
  • Visit an art museum or gallery
  • Meander through a used book store or library book sale
  • Turn a map upside down and see where it takes you
  • Attend a local festival
  • Hang out in an ethnic shop
  • Visit a zoo or botanical garden
  • Visit a museum
  • Visit a historical building
  • Look at doors or stairs on houses you walk by
  • Visit a farmer’s market
  • Explore an antique store
  • Ride on a bus

Outside/ nature:
  • Walk in the woods or a park
  • Meditate on a beach or river bank
  • Go on a walk to look at flowers growing in yards
  • Lay on your back and watch clouds
  • Watch leaves spin and fall
  • Follow a butterfly or bumble bee

 Make Something:
  • Make a collage from old magazines
  • Make a sculpture from junk
  • Paint on something that is not paper
  • Make a greeting card for someone
  • Make or cut out paper dolls
  • Make a journal or notebook
  • Take your camera for a walk
  • Write haiku or other poetry
  • Make something that could hang from a window or Christmas tree
  • Let a cookie fortune inspire you
  • Create sidewalk art with colored chalk
  • Make a map of a story that’s tickling your mind
  • Paint with berry juice
  • Capture a sunset with watercolors

  • Build with legos or blocks
  • Start a collection of stones, marbles
  • Play in the snow
  • Make some play-dough and play with it
  • Finger paint
  • Play with a kid’s toy you enjoyed
  • Learn some words in a new language
  • Do a jigsaw puzzle
  • Try origami
  • Go fly a kite
  • Invent new words with scrabble tiles


  1. Great list of wonderful ways to open our creative soul. I'm printing this out whenever I need creative nourishment. TY, Sue.

  2. Wow, great inspiring list! Thank you, Sue.

  3. You are chock full of ideas, Sue. Great list. I'll,print this one out.

  4. Thanks, Sue. I love this post!

  5. What an extensive list! Thank you, Sue, for an inspirational post full of wonderful ideas to get our creative juices flowing--regardless if its artistic, writing, or some other are. You can't help but feel encouraged and motivated! A print out reference, to be sure.

  6. Wow! I'm inspired by just reading this list! Thanks so much, Sue!

  7. Great ideas for replenishing our creative souls, Sue! Thank you for the inspiration :)

  8. Thanks, Sue. This is terrific and just what I need.

  9. Thanks, Sue -- this list is so much fun and I can't wait to get started. Maybe I'll work through it from bottom to top!

  10. Stare at fish in an aquarium.
    Play with a little kid.
    Watch kids play at a playground. Join them!
    Try a food you've never tried before.
    Build a sandcastle.
    Visit the local pet sheler and pet, play, and coo!
    Create a mandala using only kitchen utensils. Take a picture of it before you clean up!
    Play with your food. Ever see that calendar? Make animals or faces with your food. Take a picture and eat it up.

    I've done most if these and some are planned for the future.