I (Sort of) Wrote a Self-Help Book

Jun 21, 6:46PM

I’m typing this out on the last night of my writing for my 5th book, which I call “ABCFG” (short for ABC Field Guide). It’s been a tedious summer (well, technically it’s rainy season now—the downpour outside is quite strong tonight) of putting the content together and working on this book. There were several encounters and situations I had to deal with in the midst of writing and illustrating: I had to take over a job I knew nothing about (being an art director is quite…challenging, I must say), I had to condition myself to veer away from my ~feelings~ because I didn’t want to burden readers with my emotional state (am I really a Capricorn? I’m skeptic at this point), and I had to move deadlines because of mental health problems (burnout is real). To be honest, quarter life has been all sorts of “WTF is going on” and has been involving a lot of adjusting, which I wasn’t prepared for at all.

Speaking of adjusting, we moved houses last Sunday—and I’m working remotely from my new room, my digital workspace area, to be specific. It’s been weird settling into a place that is much more spacious and bright than my attic—growing up, I have been accustomed to such a small space that I managed to make something out of it (in my 5-year stay). Taking in this new space has been good so far, but it’s also a good thought that I worked on my book on both my old and new HQ. Nothing like a change of space, right? And also maybe a change of perspective.

As someone who has written four creative nonfiction instructional books in the past years, I always knew I had a way with words. I mean, English was my favorite subject back in school, and I have a thing for essay writing. Putting those books together felt like doing thesis for four times (and getting to illustrate, which is actually fun) again and defending it by sharing it to the world. I learn more about myself on every book I make, mostly because each book project challenges me to perform at a pace that is (at first) uncomfortable for me, and pushes me to cut through the cracks and eventually, make it through. But nothing prepared me for a self-help book—not even reading about self-help titles or working on my previous books.

So why did I write it?


Good question.

I was fixated on who I was a few years back. This clueless, aspiring young artist who wanted to work her way into the art world, expecting a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow or something. But of course, as time passed, I never found that pot of gold. I never found that “end”. I’m still swimming in my own pool of creativity, still in my journey, still making my way. And you know what? I don’t think about the end anymore (for now). It always made me wonder, though, what sort of end goal I had in mind back then—I only knew I wanted to get validation for what I do, and of course, at this point, none of it matters anymore. Being self-validated is always, at the end of the day, the most important.

With the abundance of new, emerging artists coming into the picture, I knew I needed to put out something that would be useful for them—because I was once that person. I made my way through this industry without a clue, mostly through trial and error, but armed with a hunger for new experiences and the tenacity to keep going. While this book won’t give you all the answers, it serves as a guide for you to figure out how to navigate your own creative journey—the way you want it. I’ve put in some stories and personal experiences in some pages, as these have eventually shaped me into the person I am today. Of course, I, myself, still have a long way to go, but I always try to remember that most of what has transpired in the past years was accidental. I did not see all of this coming—even getting to writing five books. Five! I was already so happy writing my first book. Deciding to quit my job was not part of the big picture plan either, but running my own business was. It didn’t seem clear at first, but eventually, I found my purpose, figured out what I wanted in life, and worked my hardest to get it.

Now that I have it, I’m still at a crossroads. What’s next? Where do I plot out my next steps? I don’t know. I’ve been here long enough to know in my heart that with a strong vision, enough motivation to propel me forward, and in the right timing, I’ll get to where I want to be soon. Right now, I feel like this part of me—the part you will meet as you read through this book—is something I want to immortalize on paper. Three years doesn’t seem like much, but my first encounter with art at five years old was a strong connection to link my past to my present.

I want you to remember that your life is made of so many choices. Choices that can change course of where you’re headed. So make sure to act accordingly; and be open to possibilities. Trust me, living a creative life seems so perfect, but it’s not. And the imperfections make it bearable and fulfilling. It’s no doubt that you will fail sometimes and you will be able to get back up and learn from your mistakes. There’s no guarantee how things will go, and that uncertainty has always been a driving force for the future. Sometimes I ask myself if there’s such a difference of living creatively. Is it really just a state of mind? It kind of is.

You’re already living it; you just don’t know yet.

Oftentimes, I read up on books and encounter almost the same set of advice—but there’s just that moment when it hits you hard, and you’re reminded that you’re supposed to take into heart these words and keep them in mind. I guess that’s what this book is for. For you, it can be a friend, a mentor, a future reference in case you want to pursue a creative life. For me, it’s a reminder that where I am right now is a series of yes, nos and maybes, and what ifs. And a reminder that it is a remarkable feeling to be able to live through this.

I have a lot of people to thank for inspiring me to write this book: friends old and new, mentors, the people whom I’ve entrusted a part of me with. People who have taken a chance on me, who believed in me, and brought out the best in me. I hope you enjoy the book as much as I enjoyed (did I??? lol) working on it. Honestly, it felt like I did a life evaluation of sorts, and everything came full circle as I wrap up the last few words before submission.

My new book is entitled Always Be Creating: A Field Guide to Living a Creative Life. It’s a mantra I live by from the moment I decided to live a creative life on my own terms. Inside is a repository of life advice, creative insights, worksheets and DIY activities for you to get a headstart on your creative journey, wherever you are at. This book is also a glimpse into my own creative journey—something that unexpectedly turned my life around. From tracing back to my artistic dreams in my younger years, to discovering my passion for travel and adventure, to taking on an entirely new path of becoming an artist and author. Inside this book, I share personal anecdotes, insightful tips and life hacks on how to live a creative life. Learn how to find your passion, set goals, develop your own creative process, and define success on your own terms.

ABC Field Guide is launching this August 25 (Saturday) at National Book Store Glorietta 1. Hope to see you there! RSVP at bit.ly/fieldguidelaunch

Photos by Ber Garcia