Felicia Day (actor, producer, writer, and everyone’s favorite geek girl) wants you to know something: you are a creative person. In her new book Embrace Your Weird: Face Your Fears and Unleash Creativity, she writes, “When I hear people say, ‘I’m not creative!’ I get really frustrated and want to hug them tight and whisper in their ear, ‘Please rethink that. I know you could create something beautiful if you’d just allow yourself to try.’” She maintains that every self-expression, from the outfits we put together to what we eat on our tacos, requires creativity—which is “unconscious, wondrous and super unappreciated.” And Day wants, more than anything, for you to appreciate the creativity you have within you, and for you to exercise it without fear and judgment, or worry about the final product. To her? The process is the point and whatever comes of it is welcomed. “Creativity,” she writes, “Forces us to put one mental foot in front of the other. And in the end, no matter what the result, we have a THING to show for it.”
Embrace Your Weird is a creativity guide designed to make you feel like Day is on your shoulder, acting as your best friend and your biggest fan. Day’s voice is strong within—interspersing many humorous quips and stories with the heavier psychological work, even using different fonts and illustrations to make the guide more personal. Every page or two has an exercise for the reader to try, writing right within the book (Day encourages you to work fast and messy, and insists that you deface her book in the most creative ways possible.) While some have been seen before in other books in the genre (exploring your childhood dreams, listing favorite books and games, etc.) some are new and downright, well, weird. For example, Day lists two columns of very disparate words and asks you to pair them up by connecting one word in one column to another on the other side with a drawn line. What’s so unusual about that? The words in one column include “screwdriver, 4, brisket, luxurious and monopoly” and the other included “manatees, annul, why?, 2 million and bicker”. After pairing the words, you pick a pair and create something around it. A challenge? Yes. But in doing so, Day writes, you rewire your brain in a small way. And that’s the goal.
Day argues in the book that we should not let the fact that we are instantly good at something hold us back—that one must have innate “talent” for something to make creating worthwhile. “We cannot fix upon the idea that we are born a certain way and that we merely have to uncover our ‘talents’ to reap rewards. We have infinitely more control than that,” she says. She encourages you to tap into the very things about you that are unusual and do the work necessary to bring creation forth, promising that fulfillment, no matter what the process or outcome, will be found. One concept repeated all throughout the text is the idea of giving yourself permission to be a creator. “We don’t have a right to force other people to hand us our dreams. But we DO have every right to devote ourselves to the process of the dream itself,” she writes. And for some? Giving themselves permission to create is the whole battle won.
Day also delves into the things that hold us back from creativity. A long sufferer of panic attacks where, she says, she finds herself disassociating from her body, she shares some of the techniques that have helped her through them (though she admits that she is still a work in progress.) She talks of other enemies of creativity, including shame, regret and jealousy, and encourages creators to face them head on, instead of resorting to avoidance. “Shame, regret, and jealousy all have, at their core, a longing to CHANGE. The past. Ourselves,” she writes. “But accepting that we’re imperfect, and knowing we have a right to exist anyway, is an empowering and important life tool.” And then, in true Day form, she tells those emotions to suck it.
Embrace Your Weird’s conversational style, fun and thought provoking exercises, and encouraging voice are a welcome read. After finishing it? I can’t make the claim I’d love to—that Felicia Day is my new best friend—but I can say that she is a true champion of creativity who made me think I could be one, too. And that alone makes Day’s book a worthwhile contributor to the genre.