Books find you when you when you need them. Artist’s Dates and Daily Pages became part of my vocabulary when I read The Artist’s Way.
I came across Julia Cameron’s The Right to Write on Book Depository (My free postage friend) during a late-night Internet scrolling session a few weeks ago. When it arrived I had just finished editing my latest novel and was feeling a bit jaded and this book gave me so much encouragement at just the right time.
So much of what Julia Cameron says resonates with my journey as a writer. It’s as if she knows me. I could write about so many lessons from this book, but one big takeaway was the idea of Writer’s Dates. Whereas Artist's Dates are solo adventures, Writing Dates are working dates with a fellow writer.
Some of my favourite times of writing have been on Writing Dates. Sometimes the dates are by myself, one other person, or a few others.
A couple of weeks ago I gathered a few writer friends and retreated to the south coast of Western Australia. The wine country paradise of Dunsborough is the ideal place to hide away and write. A friend kindly gave us her home for the weekend so we could retreat and write.
The writing that came out of that weekend was extraordinary. The sharing of meals, laughter, tears and working alongside each other prompted each one of us to dig deep and find writing treasure.
Once every three months, a group of writers from the women's collective, Kinwomen meet for a Writing Date. We mainly connect online, but set aside a day to take time out to write. On these days, we review the themes we've written on in the previous months, discuss the upcoming themes and share stories. Then we work, eat and work some more. The benefit of these days is that feel connected as a writing community, and the ideas that are sparked through interaction are often gold.
Another friend and I meet in a cafe for a day every now and then. We write and write and write and drink coffee. People come and go around us. If it was captured in a time-lapse video, you’d see you us scribbling away totally unaware of the movement around us.
Julia Cameron says she often phones a friend and says, 'Let's go to the coffee bar and write for an hour or two.'
The concept of gathering two or more to write together works for me because writing is something I love doing and doesn't feel like work. If I gather with a friend for a work date, it feels more corporate.
My critique partner lives on the other side of the country to me, but we support each other through emails. I know that if I ask her to, she'll pray for me. Likewise, if she asks me to pray for her I will pray.
Julia Cameron also believes in prayer:
‘I’m in the home stretch, pour on some prayers.' Knowing from experience that distant prayers create very present help and inspiration.
Writing buddies, critique partners and writing dates can play a part in helping us to keep on track.
‘I take the term Creator to be quite literal. What I am appealing for—and counting on—is artist-to-artist help.’
Dates with writing buddies are dates I never cancel. They are precious. The intentional act of putting a date in your calendar and having someone counting on you to be there means you show up.
It means that you’re expecting something to happen.
It means you’re expecting to write, to work.
If you don’t have a partner to write with, or you’re stuck for inspiration, or you feel like you need direction, then pray. See what the Creator of creativity within you will do.