Embrace Your Weird: Face Your Fears and Unleash Creativity by Felicia Day
I’ll begin this review with a quote from the book’s introduction:
“Simply put, this book is about uncovering, unblocking, and letting loose FEELING. And then activating ways to SHARE THAT FEELING.”
Simply put, this book is wonderful.
It’s not a “how to” book on improving specific skills on whatever artistic endeavor that you enjoy: writing, creating music, sculpturing, painting, etc. The book aims to help you identify obstacles in the way of you expressing your creativity.
The little word on the back cover’s top left corner is “self-help,” not “art.” You may think of self-help books as corny, ooey-gooey, and “twisting myself into a yogic pretzel and meditating on the mysteries of the cosmos.”
Okay, some readers might label some parts of this book as ooey-gooey. You’re invited to think back to your childhood, when playing pretend and inventing games was natural. Then, while growing up, we learn how things are “supposed to be.” The good part: we become more knowledgeable about the world. The not-good part: the knob of our imagination machine is turned way down.
As a remedy to turn that machine’s knob up is to think to our childhoods to remember how we were back then. The book’s exercises invite us to write what profession we dreamed of as kids, and what we collected. (Actually, exercises are all through the book, with space to write and draw, so it’s a workbook — not just for reading.)
Also included are descriptions of enemies of creativity — whether those are emotions inside us or how other people might treat us. Emotions include anxiety, perfectionism, fear of failure, shame, regret, and more. I’ve felt all those, sure. This chapter talks about how we can work on those feelings, with the goal of calming their voices and strengthening the bravery of our creative wishes.
After the chapter on enemies is, helpfully, a chapter on allies. We don’t live in a vacuum! People are out there who can help us. Family and friends who can encourage us and offer feedback on our projects. Mentors who can guide us in techniques particular to our creative pursuits.
Throughout, the writing is friendly, with quirky asides typically spoken in parentheticals. Illustrations add to the playfulness. Yep, the book practices what it teaches: play, play, play! Direct quote: “the heart of creativity is play.” That’s shown in a drawing of a heart — a more realistic heart than the simple one used in the I Love NY logo (which works very well, no offense to the great Milton Glaser).
I loved this book, and very much recommend it to those who are struggling to connect with the creative/imaginative-ness inside themselves and wish to work on freeing that up.