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Interview: Felicia Day Wants to Help You Embrace Your Weird

 

Felicia Day as Charlie on The CW's Supernatural

Felicia Day is one of our favorite geek girls. She’s a multi-multi-hyphenate with a resume that features, web series, podcasts, a minor internet empire, books, and acting on some of our favorite shows, from Buffy to Supernatural to The Magicians. We were charmed by Day’s funny, honest first memoir You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) and October 1, she’s back on book shelves with Embrace Your Weird: Face Your Fears and Unleash Creativity. It’s a unique book that helps readers to find their inner creative hero, and Day took time this week to chat with the Mary Sue all about it.

The Mary Sue: So, this book is basically a handbook for finding your creativity. You write about how it was fans that in part inspired you to write it, can you explain where that inspiration came from?

Felicia Day: This book was definitely inspired by a lot of different things…I was encountering people who had read my memoir You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) and saying to me that it had inspired them to create or get help for anxiety and depression and those two things felt so impactful – like I was actually making a difference in people’s lives – that I was like “I wanna do more of that.” So I decided to write a book that kind of channeled the spirit of those two inspirations. At the same time kind of handing the keys over to the reader, instead of just telling my story.

So this in kind of an odd book in that it’s kind of a hybrid between an advice book, a self-help book but also a work book. So after I speak about a certain subject there’ll be exercise to kind of put those apply those…things that I’ve talk about into the reader’s lives. You know I do everything online, I derive a lot of joy from being one click away from my audience; and so I wanted to sort of crack the idea of an interactive journey to kind of get to know yourself together…that I could do together with the reader as we go through the book.

It really is interactive. There are blank pages, people can draw and doodle and have fun. You give them permission to have fun and be creative, it’s great.

I think whenever we can sort of push the boundaries of what we think is right and wrong. Or like proper and improper, that’s when we sort get more access to all the things that we don’t appreciate about ourselves. That’s why I do improv…because it allows that part of my brain that doesn’t have a voice to finally get out, because I’m not second guessing myself, and I think that’s where our greatest creativity lies, and so practicing just accessing that…helps us dive in and make whatever we’re interested in making.

You see a lot of self-help book about teaching someone how to write or build or sew, but this is more about how to be creative. It sees creativity not a some mysterious, innate thing, but another skill we can work on. What are your thoungts on that?

I think creativity is innate, but you’re right, accessing that creativity is a skill and it’s a skill that’s discouraged, I think. I mean if anybody plays with a toddler, they know that immediately that we are natively creative. We are just brimming creativity because creativity is how we get to know how the world works through our eyes, right?

And so I think it’s pretty obvious that a lot of the way we’re raised, deliberately or not…kind of suppress all that in some good ways – because we probably shouldn’t be running around thinking we can fly at 35 – but we also need to be able to access those parts of us that think the impossible is possible in order to be able to create from scratch. So the book it more…a journey to get to know yourself better, so that you can create authentically in your voice and be brave enough to get it out to the world.

that book was made from human flash, but Day’s new book is mach easier to handle.

You’ve had a lot change in your life since you last book – including having a child – how has all of that change affected your perspective going into this new book?

Well, for sure this book was kind of written through a journey of a life crisis. Which is kind of great, I had a life crisis when I wrote my last book and I had a life crisis when I wrote this one. Just in studying it and going to therapy myself, I realized that in life you have a lot of different turning points where we kind of have to shed who we were and become something a little bit different. It’s kind of like a lizard shedding their skin; we’re not getting rid of the core of who we are but we’re kind of getting rid of some of the things that don’t matter to us anymore and growing into new things and taking the steps that we really appreciate along the way.

And those transitions are super hard, whether it’s like puberty or going to college or getting out of college or turning 30 or having a baby or retiring, whatever, I think that we need a little care to figure our who we are inside through those transition points. And so my journey of putting my self back together, figuring out what I wanted to carry forward and what I wanted to leave behind was kind of part and parcel in this book.

You’re a well-known geek and the book has a pretty geeky core, right?

The book progressively goes through a journey of figuring out why creativity is important. Rebuilding yourself from scratch about who you are what kind creativity you want to put out in the world.  Techniques to get past all those humps that will sort of spring up, like procrastination, and fear of failure and all those things, and then training in the art of how to play and how to surround yourself with allies. And then sending you on a quest at the end, so really…secretly it’s a very geeky hero’s journey in a sense. There’s six-sided dice analogies. There’s roided out unicorns. If you’re a geek you’re definitely going to be comfortable with all the bells and whistles.

You’ve spoken about anxiety. One of the things that I think keeps me and other people from being as creative as we want to be is the idea that we have to be engaged with the news and the world at all times because everything is so important and serious right now.

To me the way to overcome those fears and those pressures is to do things. That’s all we can do, right? We are one individual in a very vast and it feels like overwhelming to look at politics or at the environment. […] To me I think creativity is that act of putting yourself out to the world, whether it’s something frivolous like building a cosplay (which is not frivolous at all, that’s super creative) or making robots or writing a movie about the environment…any amount of creativity that you’re putting out in the world is really what you’re meant to do, because nobody else is like us. I’m the only person that’s going to create a cat like I draw a cat. Your cat is going to be totally different…and so for the time that we’re here on the earth, all that we can do is share out point of view through our creativity and maybe that will impact another person, and impact another person and then together through that connection we can actually do a lot more than we ever realized.

Of all the lessons in the book, what was the hardest for you to learn and internalize?

I think that the core of the book is about the work of creativity, and I talk about this a lot. I’ve had many many different careers and the reasons I’ve gotten into some of the career might have not been purely the creative urge of it. Sometimes I think I had a dream or something I wanted to achieve and it was just because of the external praise that I was seeking. I needed to be approved of in order to feel good about myself, and so this book is really, under everything, is just urging people to love who they are and figure out who that are and love that outsode of other people needing it or approving of it. Because if you sign up for the dream of “I wanna win and Oscar or I want to, you know, have a book on the shelf at the book store.’  If you sign up for that dream are you really signing up for the work of that dream? That creative output is necessary as a human and if you don’t have …and figuring out what it is outside of all that external validation.

(image: Katie Yu/The CW)

Embrace Your Weird: Face Your Fears and Unleash Creativity hits bookstore and online on October 1.

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Jessica Mason (she/her) is a writer based in Portland, Oregon with a focus on fandom, queer representation, and amazing women in film and television. She's a trained lawyer and opera singer as well as a mom and author.