Renaada Williams on boundaries, success, and self-love
Bestselling poetry and self-help author Renaada Williams carved her name into the poetry scene with her first collection, fluid., in June 2018. Her tender but empowering analysis of growth, change, and healing carried through in her next book, an interactive journal called Align & Receive. Her forthcoming book, becoming., (available May 19), has been deemed the “Best Book of all Time” by Books Authority.
Williams has been writing since she first picked up a pen. Through her work, she enlightens others while bandaging their emotional wounds. She hopes to continue exploring expression and the art of healing through poetry for years to come. To share her journey not just as a writer, but as a fellow human.
Thea Voutiritsas: What are you currently reading?
Renaada Williams: I started reading The Magic by Rhonda Byrne again… I have a strong will and ability to manifest things, so sometimes I just need gentle reminders to get my gears turning again.
TV: What do a few of your favorite poetry collections mean to you?
RW: Most, if not all of my favorite collections represent strength, love, and hope for me. My collection allows me to be unapologetic about my story, my message, and myself. Everything I own resonates with me in a very freeing way.
TV: Did you have a theme in mind for becoming. before you began or did the meaning emerge as you worked?
RW: There was absolutely no theme in mind for becoming. Life just happened, and as I bled out onto a ridiculous amount of paper, becoming. emerged.
TV: becoming. takes us on a journey of healing after what seems to be a one-sided relationship. How did the process of writing help you explore and understand that journey?
RW: Well, I feel like becoming. is much more than another sad love song! However, as it pertains to any breakups I’ve had… most times I didn’t even know it was one-sided! I tend to just pour into people without even realizing I’m running myself empty. My work is a result of the pain I’ve endured… mostly it’s all detoxing for me.
TV: What do you say to those who feel guilty for not giving, or who have trouble saying no?
RW: I don’t necessarily feel like it’s a bad thing when people don’t say no… I think guilt comes when you’ve said yes more than you’ve ever said no because sometimes that leaves room for resentment. Ultimately, I just think it’s important to set boundaries for yourself.
TV: What do you think it means to put yourself first? How can that mindset actually benefit our relationships with others?
RW: Mastering self-love! That is literally it. When you love and respect yourself, you act accordingly. We are usually putting “the people we love” above ourselves. We have to start putting ourselves on the list of who is most important to us! You will realize that YOU are and will always be the most important person in YOUR life.
TV: You touch on depression and mental health in your book. What role does poetry play in your relationship with those themes?
RW: “Relationships” mean commitment to me… so the only thing I’m committed to as it relates to my mental health is surviving it! In any and every way I possibly can.
TV: Tell us about your process…are you a pen-and-paper person, or do you prefer the computer? Do you like to work in short spurts over time, or are you a marathon writer?
RW: Definitely a pen and paper kind of girl! But out of convenience I mainly use my phone or my laptop. I tend to write whatever pops into my head. If something comes of it, then great. And if I never finish, it was still helpful in some way.
TV: From fluid. to Align and Receive, and now becoming., has publishing these books changed your process for writing? If so, how?
RW: My process of writing is very much the same. I stay true to myself, I talk about my own experiences for the most part. I stay in my lane and when I’m done, I let it go and pray that it’ll move someone or that they can relate to it.
TV: Do you read your reviews? Tell why or why not.
I love to know everyone’s thoughts! Good or indifferent, I feel like it’s a very humbling thing to read how moved or unbothered some people can be.
TV: What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made as a writer?
RW: Allowing other people’s opinions to dictate how I feel about myself, my journey, or my work. Also understanding that people boxing me in and/or replicating my work is not in my control.
TV: What does literary success look like to you?
RW: I went from journaling and writing because I felt like that was the only way I could truly express myself, to publishing multiple books, a journal of my own, and landing a book deal moving people all over the world! I’d say that I am currently living in, and manifesting what literary success looks like for me on a daily basis.