What It Is

It’s official, I really love the writing of Lynda Barry. When I read Syllabus, I soaked up her ideas, I started journalling differently, and I it changed my thinking about writing and drawing a lot. I just finished What It Is last weekend and I’m still thinking about a lot of it.

The two books are dramatically different, in What It Is Barry talks about her journey towards drawing and writing, much of it is autobiographical. The last third or so of the book changes to be more about exercises you can do to get yourself writing, but it was the first section that I really enjoyed. Barry is asking a lot of questions and many times doesn’t try to answer them, but that doesn’t matter, because just asking them can get you thinking differently.

Ever since reading both of these books I’ve felt permission, which is odd because I don’t know why I even needed that, to change my journal, be super messy, and just have more relaxed fun in there. I’m drawing crazy little pictures along side huge lettering and using it as a way to play. When I started drawing 2.5 years ago, I was looking at a lot of artists who post their sketchbook spreads on Instagram. They are all perfect spreads that look like finished pieces. So that’s how I drew in my sketchbook and my journal was for words. Barry has shown me how to mix them all up and make them the same thing.

And this change has been pretty amazing for me to think through things with both words and images and not worry how they look or if they are perfect, it’s just been about venting and thinking for me. And right now that’s exactly what I need. But I’m also thinking deeply about how you write, how images can play a role in kickstarting that process, and what that means for me going forward. If you like crazy journal like books that are thought provoking, I highly recommend reading some Lynda Barry.