Often I write the words I need to read. That’s how Weightless was born. For years I’d struggled with a bad body image and equated thinness with a beautiful life. When I started Weightless I was in a much healthier place. But I still needed to explore these themes. I still needed to better understand self-care. I still needed to learn how to navigate negative thoughts. To give myself permission to say no. To process my feelings. Fully. To stop seeing the messy parts of myself as mortal enemies.
A lot of the articles I come up with are the things I struggle with myself. Self-doubt. Self-compassion. Self-forgiveness. Loss. Overwhelm.
So essentially I create what I need. And I think giving ourselves what we need is one of the most powerful parts or benefits of creating and making.
I did the same thing with my forthcoming book, Make a Mess. Because often I forget to play. Often I take life too seriously. I magnify stress. I get caught up in worries and what-ifs. I get writer’s block and feel like I’ll never create anything worthwhile. I forget that I have all the permission in the world to draw, to dance, to take pictures, to play pretend. To have fun, even when there are bills to pay and real responsibilities to take care of.
I write about being flexible and seeing challenges as adventures. Because my automatic response is “Oh I can’t do that!” or “Ughhhh” or “This must be done perfectly or not at all” or any other not-so helpful perspectives or approaches.
In his book Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative author Austin Kleon writes in the introduction: “It’s one of my theories that when people give advice, they’re really just talking to themselves in the past. This book is me talking to a previous version of myself.”
I totally agree. I write to the me of many years ago, who hated her body, let others walk all over her, judged her feelings and thought she was alone. I write to the me today, who so easily forgets the bigger more beautiful picture, and the smaller, sweeter details. I write to the future me so she won’t need so many reminders.
In Make a Mess, I include a prompt on creating the very things we need. I talk about the gorgeous children’s book Journey, which is illustrated by Aaron Becker. In it a lonely little girl uses her red marker to draw a magical door to a wondrous world. In that world she continues drawing objects she needs to keep her safe and moving forward.
I also include another example: In A Field Guide to Now Christina Rosalie writes: “But if I can wake up and write daily until I feel like I have reason to be writing again, then I can write myself a raft. I can write oars. I can write buoyant water.” So she buys a notebook and starts carrying it everywhere she goes, jotting down bits and pieces, about everything from clouds to crows.
What words do you need to read right now? What do you need to learn or understand? Where do you need to feel less alone? Where do you need encouragement? What words did you need years ago?
Write these necessary words down. Write down the words that give you comfort or calm or kinship. The words your present, past or future self needs.
Or write down the words that someone else might need to read. Maybe your best friend or child or parent or partner or anyone else you love deeply needs to read that they’re not alone.
Whether it’s through writing or another activity or process, we can create what we need. We can create rafts, and oars and buoyant waters. We can create wondrous worlds.