Three years ago, while I was conducting The Love Project (a one year-long attempt to find love by using project management methodology), I concomitantly went into ‘creative rehab’.
You may not be a writer, but I’m sure you’ve often heard of the term ‘writer’s block’. ‘Writer’s block’ or ‘creative block’ is not, like the name would suggest, a period defined by a lack of ideas. Rather, it is a state in which one battles doubts about their self worth and their creative work. It’s a pretty normal condition and it’s more widely spread than we can imagine. It is generally defined by lack of trust in one’s talent, which is rather silly considering that talent is actually pretty irrelevant in the creative process, unlike mastery, which is the absolute key to success in leading a successful creative life.
As I said, I had been suffering from ‘writer’s block’ for over thirty years and in order to get myself in shape and actually begin to write the book The Love Project I started a creative recovery process.
I followed the guiding steps of Julia Cameron, a renowned creativity coach and author of The Artist’s Way. Her programme contains many tools but two in particular have been instrumental in unleashing my creativity and boosting my confidence both as a writer and as a dater: ‘the morning pages’ – a stream of consciousness type of journaling meant to download unnecessary thoughts and ideas in order to let creativity flourish – and ‘the artist dates’.
During an artist date, you are encouraged to spend one hour a week by yourself doing something that pleases you (other than writing), as if you have taken yourself on a date. I took myself to galleries and museums and when I got bored of all the art available, I sometimes just took myself out for dinner and watched the sun going down over the Thames.
And it was beautiful and not only that it pleased me greatly to go one these dates, I had time to reflect, to get inspired and to grow a deeper relationship with myself, far from the influences of daily life.
Now, I am going to say something crazy. I think that taking yourself out on a date doesn’t only apply to artists and writers.
As I said, I had grown more confident during dates and more in control of my feelings, my emotions and what I wanted to achieve in life and in a relationship. I strongly believe that they should be mandatory for entrepreneurs as well.
How many times did you find yourself going around in circles, mulling over the same ideas, working on your website a million times, talking about your startup every moment of the day and dreaming about it at night? Most of the times, right? And how productive did you find that was?
I will take a wild guess and say that it was not very productive.
It is true in creativity and it is true in entrepreneurship in equal measure that we must take regular steps back from our ‘project’ and allow ourselves to play, daydream, get inspired, and sometimes just be. I am not suggesting that you should take yourself on a ‘date’ like I did, but perhaps just set aside one hour every week, cut yourself off from anybody else and do something fun. Have an affair with life, get inspiration, go to a market, see a movie in the middle of the day, ride a bike, play with a dog, babysit, learn how to make cocktails, take a dance class, volunteer at a charity shop, bake a cake, rearrange the books on your shelves, chose a new bed set, have a massage, do some gardening, go to a speed-dating event, the list is infinite!
I can promise you that it will widen your horizons and it will give you ideas you would otherwise be blind to. But whatever you do, don’t go to another business or networking event. That’s not a ‘date’!
Iulia is a writer - author of The Love Project, a memoir about how she project managed love into her life - and a creative entrepreneur with a passion for helping entrepreneurs to grow and connect. Follow Iulia on Twitter @IuliaCalota
Natalia runs creative agency Natalka Design. Connect with her @Natalka_Design