Embrace Your Weird
Face Your Fears and Unleash Creativity
by Felicia Day
published by Pocket Books (S&S)
AMBER LOVE 04-SEP-2019 This review is a courtesy provided by NetGalley. To support this site and my other work, please consider being a monthly donor at Patreon.com/amberunmasked; you can also buy my books through Amazon (or ask your local retailer to order you copies). I’m also an Amazon Influencer so you can shop through my lists of recommended products.
Including Felicia’s personal stories and hard-won wisdom, Embrace Your Weird offers:
- Entertaining and revelatory exercises that empower you to be fearless, so you can rediscover the things that bring you joy, and crack your imagination wide open
- Unique techniques to vanquish enemies of creativity like: anxiety, fear, procrastination, perfectionism, criticism, and jealousy
- Tips to cultivate a creative community
- Space to explore and get your neurons firing
Whether you enjoy writing, baking, painting, podcasting, playing music, or have yet to uncover your favorite creative outlet, Embrace Your Weird will help you unlock the power of self-expression. Get motivated. Get creative. Get weird.
Gosh — it was four long years ago that I stood in line for hours to get my signed copy of You’re Never Weird on the Internet by Felicia Day. It was my birthday and I got meet one of my celebrity role models. She seems to be a woman who can do anything: acting, writing, dancing, singing, music composition, gaming, and now parenting.
I actually remember her from commercials for Sears and Cheetohs. And I swear I am not a dangerous stalker! (That’s what they all say.) Then there was Buffy the Vampire Slayer. A big break for this talented person and it led her to all kinds of new things and new BFFs in the industry. From there Dr. Horrible’s Sing-along Blog, Eureka, and Supernatural. I even remember spotting her on an episode of House where she got to play a character finally outside of her Hollywood mold. It was brief, but I noticed the difference that she wasn’t playing some kind of super intelligent nerdy type. And to be real, I gave up on Supernatural just as she was coming on the show. I’ll get back to it eventually.
But it was when a cosplay/RPG/nerdy friend of mine told me about The Guild and how important it was to “our kind” of people (meaning, at the time, those of us who lived inside City of Heroes). Now that I’ve subjected you to my history of fandom and revering of a celebrity, let me tell you about Embrace Your Weird.
First of all, if you notice that I’m writing this review in a more casual/conversational style like I’m talking directly to you, that’s what you’ll get from this book. Felicia Day’s text is mostly like a transcript of her cheering you on and giving you personal guidance for finding direction with your creative ambitions. If you get the audio book, I’m sure you’ll be in for a treat. Yes, audio books are “reading.” You can add it to your GoodReads Yearly Challenge.
Next, it’s also a book you can breeze through at first to get that first layer of absorption; then go back and do the weird exercises at the end of each section that’s pertinent to your creative output or desire. There are illustrations where you get to fill in things or blank pages to doodle. You are instructed to scribble and draw all over these pages which means the hard copy version might be the best version to have. Otherwise, have a notebook ready. I guess you can take screenshots of the illustrations and print those so you can fill them out.
While this is a self-help book, it’s probably the most cheery, fun, and dare I say frivolous in a good way. It makes you embrace your childlike self to build up what Day calls the Hero-Self. She’s had a lifetime of therapy, I guess, to know how this stuff works. There is also a list at the back of other books she references and uses herself including Marie Kondo. My shoulders shrug a little in a cringe as I type that. I hold on to precious things and as long as I’m not at a dangerous level and take time one to two times a year to purge crap, I’m okay with my choices.
I said frivolous because it’s how our culture, in the US anyway, sees artists and sees the actions of playtime. When I take Gus out on his daily walk, it’s mostly for him because he loves it; but it became for me too. I started to write about our walks. Then I embellished them with pure nonsense like monsters and mysteries to solve. Taking a cat for a walk is playtime, but it’s also my own inspiration for writing three years worth of weekly posts. I have a friend who dances around as she does housework because it simultaneously makes her happy to move her body and she can feel accomplished that crap got done. Play is vital. It’s an embarrassment that adults in working environments are quelled from doing it. Sure, Bryce in IT, you can have ten different toys on your desk from ThinkGeek, but you can’t actually be silly. That would be a disgrace.
Day not only gives you permission to make mistakes, she encourages it. She also reminds the reader that being an artist is hard work. Hard work doesn’t mean you don’t love your output (whether this is your job or just for you or a hobby). Embrace Your Weird acts as a tool where you can have your own imaginary cheerleader, parental figure who is proud of you, role model, and friend at your disposal. Day tells us that being creative is our natural state. Isn’t that wonderful to know?
The reason Marie Kondo and her purging into minimalism lifestyle comes up is because having too much clutter and chaos in your environment can stifle creativity. Doesn’t it make you sad and depressed to see dirty dishes or a closet filled with clothes you can’t fit into anymore? She says to get rid of it. I may say, “I worked too damn hard on that costume to part with it, but I’ll put it in a neat and tidy bin on a shelf.”
Day also gets into how the mind tends to work in a state of anxiety. She does say anxiety could be useful, but I think the dividing difference is that excitement for a project is not the same thing as anxiety disorder. I’m not a doctor, but I think I can speak from my own experience. I will die on the hill that “writer’s block” (which includes all critical thinking and creative thought endeavors) is a real problem. The advice you get about taking a walk, clearing your head, walk away from it and come back, do something entirely different and maybe a solution will come — that’s all true. The pressure you put on yourself can lead to anxiety, but they isn’t necessarily The Anxiety itself. Plenty of people thrive under pressure. They look forward to it. I also work better with a deadline like NaNoWriMo. There’s something to hold me, the creator, responsible.
Accountability does get a small cameo in the book. Day talked about when she joined a group of women in a similar position in the acting world struggling to find the next gig. They were holding each other accountable with weekly things to do: invite X to lunch to network and that sort of thing. If you like in-person group accountability, go for it. I prefer the realm of online which is why Comics Experience worked well for me as I floundered through my first comic scripts. Same for NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo — you get a support system who understands what you’re going through when your spouse/dog/mother doesn’t get it.
As readers work through the exercises to free their creativity, they need to be resilient to criticism, open to valuable feedback, aware of personal limitations (maybe you can’t devote five hours a day to your art), and remember that we are mere mortals. Eventually time will run out. You will either have made the thing or not made the thing. We’re not all Tupac putting out records every year posthumously.
Day is considerate of switching gendered pronouns. She also gender-swaps Hamlette in one example. I’m sure there are things I wouldn’t notice, but I can at least be honest and say this is a writer who tries. She only refers to her significant other as partner. She talks about her baby here and there if you’re sensitive to discussions on babies/families. It’s understandable given her career, but still unfortunate that she cares what Joss Whedon thinks about her. He should be seeing her as a role model not the other way around.
Rating: Five Stars