Four years since Wabi Sabi came out. Over 200,000 copies sold. And not a visionboard in sight. Wait, what?

Hello friend,

Four years ago today I was wandering around London with my then editor Anna Steadman, plying booksellers with Japanese treats from Minamoto Kitchoan, and telling them all about my book Wabi Sabi. It was at once excruciating and amazing, which is an odd combination that tends to lead you to eat your ramen way too fast… Anyway, today I am celebrating Wabi Sabi’s four year anniversary, and the fact that well over 200,000 copies have been sold. That absolutely blows my mind. That’s one copy of Wabi Sabi sold every five minutes since it was published four years ago today. That’s Wembley Stadium filled twice over with readers, and tens of thousands queueing up outside. (And I worked at Wembley Stadium for a while. I can imagine it filled with people holding up books instead of being dressed in football kits, and that makes me smile) This has been mostly thanks to word of mouth – that’s YOU. Thank you so very much.

And can I tell you a secret? I didn’t have ‘bestseller’ stuck on a visionboard for this book. In fact, it was after learning a lot about the pointlessness of fixed desire with the experience of my first book Freedom Seeker, that I let go of any desire for a particular outcome of releasing Wabi Sabi into the world, and so many good things I could never even have imagined have unfolded as a result, not to mention all the books I got to write since then. The importance of desirelessness is one of the radical things I explore in my new book The Way of the Fearless Writer. It goes against a lot of what we are taught about goal setting and bestseller obsessions, but I can tell you it’s a whole lot easier on the spirit, and the words just keep on flowing…

Anyway, I wanted to let you know that I have a lovely Japan-related giveaway to celebrate this precious anniversary where you can win a HAUL of Japan-related goodies I have gathered for you. To enter please go to my Instagram @bethkempton and look for the image of me holding a map.

To every single one of you who has read, spoken about, shared or gifted Wabi Sabi, THANK YOU. I love you. And please remember, you are perfectly imperfect, just as you are.

Beth Xx

PS Do you know which are the most frequently shared words from Wabi Sabi? These:


Wabi sabi teaches us to be content with less, in a way that feels like more:

Less stuff, more soul. Less hustle, more ease. Less chaos, more calm.

Less mass consumption, more unique creation.

Less complexity, more clarity. Less judgement, more forgiveness. Less bravado, more truth.

Less resistance, more resilience. Less control, more surrender. Less head, more heart.


This was sent out in my weekly newsletter this week. If you’d like inspiration in your inbox from me, please sign up here!


Images Holly Bobbins Photography

How to cope with the guilt that comes with doing what you love

A few days ago I got a Direct Message on Instagram from someone asking me an interesting question which is relevant to so many of us, so I thought I’d share my response here in case it is of interest to you, too. The DM said, “I feel like I have wondered into another chapter of my life that I didn’t know was waiting for me. I am trying to make space for myself but all of the space I create by necessity, takes me away from the family I decided to have, the job I wanted etc, so it gives me a huge amount of guilt. A large part of what you do also has to be on your own or in quiet places or with contemplative people. Do you struggle with time being split between your family and partner and the things you perhaps need and enjoy or allow you space? And if so how do you balance that?”

This question is essentially, “Don’t you feel guilty about doing what you love, and if you do, how do you cope with it?” I have a lot of thoughts about this – here are a few of them:

(1) A lot of my quiet time is not separate from my job, it’s necessary for my job – both in terms of my writing and the businesses I run. For me ‘doing what you love’ is a lot about how you spend each day, both in work and outside of work, and the work I choose requires quiet time which I love, hence my choice to do it. In theory I should no more feel guilty for it than anyone should feel guilty for going to work in a more conventional job. No-one ever asks a plumber if they feel guilty going to work, but our societal conditioning somehow makes us think that if we love it, and it’s creative, it can’t be real work which is sad and ridiculous, but also the state of things. Having said that, because it often doesn’t feel like ‘work’ in the way we are conditioned to think about work, the truth is I do feel guilty sometimes, so this is a fantastic question.

(2) I have worked on this parental guilt a lot, and talk about it in my new book The Way of the Fearless Writer because it can be a huge obstacle for getting to the page, and doing anything creative. Here’s the thing: I have come to understand that I am a better everything (mum, wife, friend etc) for having written or spent time with the ideas calling to me. By better I mean more present, patient, and awake to my life. My family knows this and we talk about it. Me doing my thing is good for all of us in many ways, and it might be the same for you. Recognising this can be a game changer in terms of getting the support you need to make time and space, and not feel bad about it.

(3) I make sacrifices. I often choose to spend time with my ideas instead of with friends in real life. Not always, but often. The truth is that these past few years I have put more effort into writing new books than making new friendships. I rarely meet up with people for coffee in the middle of the day because I’d rather be on a long walk in the hills or by the sea figuring out the idea for my next book. This doesn’t mean I think less of friends, I just don’t hang out with them all the time. I am sure this means I miss out on things, but a book (like art, or a new business) is the result of hundreds of tiny decisions to work on it, rather than something else. That’s a personal choice. It has not always been this way, and it might not always be this way, but it’s how I feel at this point in my life, so I’m going with it.

(4) I get up really early most days. Mr K gets up early too. We do our own thing for a couple of hours – me writing, yoga, walking etc and him pilates or running – and our children don’t even notice because they are sleeping. It’s bliss.

(5) Outside of ‘work’ I make room for creative time with a few choices – I don’t iron clothes (sorry Mum). I almost never watch TV (except for Grey’s Anatomy, currently still on season 13, no spoilers please). I batch cook food in winter and eat a lot of salad in summer. I don’t spend much time consuming social media (even when I am active on my own accounts). These simple things free up a lot of time.

(6) I encourage my husband to do stuff he loves too, away from me and the girls. He loves to go on long runs, sometimes to the pub, sometimes paddleboarding etc. He teaches pilates and doesn’t feel guilty about the time spent doing that, which reminds me not to feel guilty about the time I spend doing things I love.

(7) I think I am sending our girls an important message doing what I love, and turning formless ideas into food on the table, not to mention teaching them that quiet time and space matters for our well-being.

(8) There is a season for everything. I often write my books in winter which requires big chunks of time away from others. At other times I am much more available to everyone and it helps us all to know that.

(9) Sometimes it helps to work backwards. What’s your ideal day and how can you reconfigure your life to make that support your work and family as well as your own health and creativity? It’s just possible that in the end everyone will be grateful that you did.

(10) Life is short. You might as well do what you love, not just in the big scheme of things but inside every day. Just sayin’

If you have questions like this about doing what you love I’m always open to them. I love pondering them and might share in a future post so feel free to drop me a DM on Instagram @bethkempton.

Beth Xx

PS This post was originally sent as a newsletter to my community. If you’d like to get love letters and inspiration like this direct into your inbox just hop on the list for free here.

PPS It has been a big week for my Book Proposal Masterclass graduates over here – one graduate is deciding between multiple agents wanting to represent her, Emma S just landed an agent for a book idea I adore, and Ann Garcia’s How to Pay for College was published. We have just opened registration for the next class (February 2023) with an early bird discount of 30% off and an instalment plan, because I know some of you wanted to spread payments over several months. If you want to join me to get your non-fiction book proposal done in February, you can book your spot here.


Metamorphosis, in front of my eyes.

A month ago the postman knocked at the door. “You’d better open this one soon,” he winked, handing a brown box to our six-year old birthday girl. “Are they dead, mummy?” she asked wide-eyed, carefully lifting the clear pot out of the box and staring at the five motionless hairy caterpillars inside, sprawled across some pale brown gunk. “Erm, I think they are sleeping,” I hoped, quietly wondering whether it was legal to send living things in the post.

A week later those caterpillars had eaten all the gunk at the bottom of the jar, quadrupled in size and crawled up to the underside of the lid, to dangle like a showoff doing one-handed tricks on monkey bars. Over the next couple of days they seemed to grow a cocoon, as if it was their own body thickening up, rather than spinning a web around themselves as I had always imagined. When those chrysalides hardened, we carefully lifted the lid off the pot, creatures still attached, and transferred it to the pop-up net habitat that had arrived with our unusual package. Over the next few days the chrysalides darkened and texturized into charcoal grey beads flecked with gold.

I became obsessed with them, watching for the slightest changes in their outer layer, imagining I could see the imprint of folded wings pushing against the hard casing. One sunny morning we went to the beach for a couple of hours, and piled back into the house all noisy and sandy before someone cried, “Look!” Three butterflies had emerged, and were clinging to the wall of their net home. Their shed skins remained attached to the lid at one end, the other end burst through in that moment of emergence.

They began as caterpillars and emerged as butterflies. I knew it was likely to happen. Of course I did. I had learnt about it in primary school forty years ago. But still I’m not sure I believed it would actually work. It seemed unfathomable. How did the caterpillars know what to do? How was that brown gunk enough to create something so beautiful? Where were their wings hidden? Surely they didn’t just spin them like fairy fabric in a matter of days? And how on earth did three of them emerge within an hour or so of each other, after all that time? (The other two had been disturbed when we moved them to their habitat and had fidgeted for a while. That must have taken some of their energy reserves, and they were the last to emerge a couple of days later)

Perhaps what amazed me the most was the realization that the caterpillar doesn’t actually turn into the butterfly, changing its whole body and so on. Rather it simply grows wings. I don’t think I knew that before, but having studied them so closely before they became chrysalides, I recognized their caterpillar faces as butterflies. Close up they were the essentially the same. From a distance they were completely new. When we released them, they instinctively knew what to do.

Their period of retreat had been an intense period of growth, away from the world, still and silent yet intensely fertile as they spun potential from their own bodies. What emerged was not another creature, but the same one, changed. The same face, but with the courage and confidence that wings can bring – wings they didn’t have to think to grow, but rather wings that grew on them, when they surrendered to the process, and trusted. Metamorphosis, just like that.

I am sending this to you from a short writing retreat where I too am surrendering to the process. It isn’t easy, or comfortable, but my winged friends reminded me that I don’t have to work so hard at it. Instead I just need to get quiet and wait. Then I’ll know what to write, or I perhaps will be written.

Have a good week friends,
Beth Xx

PS Did you know I have a brand new course starting on Monday? It’s called Excavate Your Life: writing towards clarity and direction. This extraordinarily rich five week life-exploration/personal development/writing course is a unique opportunity to discover what you really want from life. And as a special treat to celebrate its launch you can get 30% off with the code DIGDEEP if you register here by Monday.

(Butterfly images: Holly Bobbins Photography. Lotus image: Unsplash/Zoltan Tasi)

Excavate Your Life (brand new personal development + writing course!)

For months now I have been working on a brand new course which combines personal development and writing, as a way to navigate life. Excavate Your Life is a rich online course which offers a unique opportunity to explore what you really want from life, while honing your writing skills. Join me, bestselling self-help author Beth Kempton as I guide you on a wild and beautiful journey towards clarity and direction. Each weekday for five weeks you will get a juicy lesson (audio, video, journaling worksheet and writing challenge) to help you go deep and stretch your writing. By the end of the course, the alchemical nature of it all will ensure you have a stronger sense of what really matters to you, and a clearer idea of where to focus your time, energy and attention. Not to mention having much more confidence in your writing after all that practice…

This is a very special hybrid writing and personal growth course which I have designed to help you find clarity and direction, both in your writing and in your life. I have spent more than a decade helping people to navigate change and reconfigure their lives to do what they love. I have also written a series of self-help books, all connected by a thread of making the most of this precious life.

It’s so easy in the rush of the modern world to go through the motions of each day without stopping to think what it’s all about, whether we are actually awake to our experience, and how we want to make the most of whatever is left, without knowing how long that will be. Personally I find journaling and writing incredibly powerful tools to help me tune in to the world, to my life, to other people, and to myself. I have brought all of this together in this course, with the aim that by the end of it you will be inspired, motivated and ready for whatever might be next.

To celebrate the launch of this brand new course you are invited to join with a 30% discount – just use the coupon code DIGDEEP when you register here by Monday August 23 (when class begins). Sign up now and start excavating your life. You never know what goodness you might find.

Beth Xx

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Who’s it for?

This is for you if any of the following are true:

  • You want to make a major change in life
  • You are wondering ‘What should I do with my life?’
  • You need help figuring out what you really want
  • You want to shake things up and get out of a rut
  • You want to mine your life for its most valuable lessons
  • You are looking for a sense of meaning and purpose OR
  • You want to write a memoir or a book that explores the human experience

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What’s included?

The course has been designed as a five-week intensive class, and includes:

  • Daily Spark audios to get your creative juices flowing
  • Daily video lessons, each guiding you to excavate your life from a different perspective
  • Daily journaling worksheets to guide you gently through the excavation process, seeking out clues and patterns to help you envision what kind of life you want to create
  • Daily writing challenges to push you out of your writing comfort zone and explore what you are really capable of
  • PLUS Along the way I include a host of insights into my experience helping thousands of people to navigate change, and writing five self-help books

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About your tutor

Beth Kempton has spent the last decade helping tens of thousands of people find creative ways to live well doing what they love, through powerful online courses and workshops as founder of Do What You Love. Beth writes self-help books which have been translated into 24 languages.

Her bestselling book ‘Wabi Sabi: Japanese wisdom for a perfectly imperfect lifehas been recommended by TIME Magazine, British Vogue, The Telegraph, and Psychologies Magazine, described as ‘a truly transformational read’ by Sunday Times Style. She is also the author of Freedom Seeker: Live more. Worry less. Do what you love., Calm Christmas and a Happy New Year and most recently, We Are in This Together: Finding hope and opportunity in the depths of adversity’ (Piatkus) which she wrote in sixteen days in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis. Mother of two adorable girls, she lives a slow-ish life in Devon, UK.

Important note

Please be aware that this is not a replacement for clinical therapy. Please seek professional clinical advice if you need it. Please also note that this class does not include specific advice on writing technique or any feedback on individual writing samples. It is a self-paced course so there is no direct interaction with Beth. It is also designed as a very personal experience so there is no private community with this course.

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Do I have to be online at a certain time to join in?

The classroom will open on August 23, 2021, and content will be released from that date. You do not have to log on at a certain time – you can follow the course at whatever pace suits you. You will have classroom access until January 31 2023 and most of the content is downloadable anyway.

Can I join if I live outside of the UK?

Yes you can join from anywhere.

Any other questions?

Drop the team a line at [email protected] and we’ll be happy to help.

Comfort + joy in winter

Nourishing your mind at this time of year can look as simple as turning away from overstimulation—to-do lists, screens, loud music, bright lights, toxic conversations—and making your way into nature, open spaces, fresh air, peace and quiet. Try counting the shades of evergreens, inhaling the aroma of wild herbs, listening for signs of life. On cold, sunny days, look for berries, or different leaf shapes, or visiting birds. Seek out hardy plants emerging from cracks in the pavement. Make bark rubbings with a little person. Fill up a feeder for the birds. I find the ever-changing sky a powerful tonic for the soul. For you, it might be the nearness of water, or the bare bones of trees, stripped of their leaves. Seek whatever you need. Document your finds. Photograph them. Sketch them. Forage a few samples for your bedside table. Or nourish your mind with words—write about your day, take time out with an inspiring podcast or a good book, or settle in for a long conversation.

With England heading back into national lockdown today, and tensions high for so many people, it seems like a good time to look for ways to find comfort and joy in winter. This week’s episode of The Calm Christmas Podcast is all about that, and it’s out now on iTunes, on Spotify or here on my website.

I also invite you to join my Winter Writing Sanctuary, a two-week online class starting on November 23. Given all that is going on in the world right now I have decided to make this completely FREE. Book your place here and join me and hundreds of other writers from all around the world as we escape into a cosy world of words this winter. All levels welcome. Hope to see you there!

Take good care
Beth Xx


Writing is medicine and it can help us get through this together.

How have you been doing lately? I have been thinking about you, in your corner of the world, dealing with the things that have been thrown at you, and I have been quietly sending love.

We all deal with difficult situations in different ways. For me, writing always helps.

Whether that means journaling to get something out of my head, penning poetry to find beauty in the darkness, exploring ideas on paper or channelling my fire into a new book,

I always find that words are my medicine.

We are all grieving something right now. Lost loved ones, lost freedoms, lost jobs, lost rites of passage that will never take place, old pieces of our lives that will never return in the same form.

Collectively, our healing is going to take a long time, but we can begin where we are, putting words onto paper, and letting our hearts speak.

That’s why I have created ‘Words Heal’, a short writing class, offering gentle guidance, inspiring prompts and an insight into the writing life, to help you write your way through this. You can join me for this live class over two weeks in June (worth £20) for FREE when you pre-order my new book ‘We Are in This Together: Finding hope and opportunity in the depths of adversity’.

Writing can be medicine, and we need it more than ever at times like this. This short online class will equip you with tools to help process some of the complex feelings that bubble up in a crisis, stabilise your ship and find reasons to be hopeful. It will also help you hone your writing into something deeply personal which will help you connect with others.

If you want to join me, it’s simple:

  • Pre-order We Are in This Together on Amazon. If you are in the US/Canada, the audiobook is here. The ebook will be available for pre-order from early next week so please check then.
  • Click here and fill in the short form with your details. That’s it! Then you’ll get my new book as soon as it is out, and I’ll see you in the writing class on June 8.

Much love at this time

Beth Xx

*New book for you!* Calm Christmas and a Happy New Year

Friends, I wrote a new book for you. It is a book about Christmas. But it’s also a book about belonging, connection, self-care, joy and ordinary magic. Calm Christmas and a Happy New Year offers inspiration for a new kind of holiday season – one where you radiate calm and cultivate delight. Spanning late November to early January, Calm Christmas embraces the festive build-up, the celebrations and the turn of the year in a holistic, nurturing way.

Let me whisk you away from the frenetic energy of the high street and invite you to come sit awhile by the fire, pausing to explore what a more mindful festive season could mean for you.

Full of personal stories, tips and advice for slowing down, staying calm and connecting with others, it offers a welcome retreat from the pressure to create ‘the perfect Christmas’.

At its heart Calm Christmas is about a book about wellbeing in winter, which will encourage you to use this time of natural hibernation to germinate new dreams and nurture a beautiful life in the year ahead. Instead of entering January exhausted, further in debt, and already regretting broken resolutions, you will begin the New Year with precious memories, feeling rested, rejuvenated and inspired.

This atmospheric book will lead you through the darkness of winter, back to the enchantment of an authentic and meaningful Christmas and New Year.

I hope you will pick up a copy for yourself, or gift it to a friend. You can get your copy here or from any good bookshop. If you are in the US/Canada you can get it from with free shipping!

Beth Xx

Life lessons inspired by centuries-old Japanese culture

As the sun rises on the day that my new book ‘Wabi Sabi: Japanese wisdom for a perfectly imperfect life’ is released into the world, I find myself transported back to a quiet temple in Kyoto, where I had been staying in simple temple lodgings back in March. I rose early for the morning meditation, then padded barefoot to a quiet room to interview the Deputy Head Priest Reverend Takafumi Kawakami.

One of the things Reverend Kawakami told me, which has stuck with me ever since, was this: “People think Zen is all about calmness and tranquillity and living in some blissed-out space of good vibes. But actually it’s about how you face your challenges: unhappiness, worry, loneliness, difficult emotions. It’s about learning to deal with what life throws at you, and acceptance of actuality is central to that.”

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This idea of acceptance is really at the heart of this new book, inspired by my twenty-year love affair with Japan. ‘Wabi sabi’ is intimately intertwined with the idea that everything in nature is transient – it’s all impermanent, imperfect and incomplete, as are we. Just think about that for a moment. Imperfection is our natural state of being. We are not supposed to be perfect. I don’t know about you, but that pretty much turns everything upside down for me, because so much of what we are taught tells us the exact opposite.

With this book I set about discovering the truth of the life lessons tucked away into centuries-old Japanese culture and aesthetics. It takes us on a gentle winding path through nature, deepening our appreciation of beauty and the gifts of simple living, and reminds us why this wisdom has never been more relevant than today. I hope you will read it, and soak it all up.

Researching and crafting this book has been one of the most wonderful creative projects I have ever had the pleasure to bring to life, and as I pick up my bag and head for the early train to London for a day of bookshop tours, full of gratitude to those who helped along the way, I am sending you a quiet wish on the breeze, that you will come to see that you are perfectly imperfect, just as you are.

Beth Xx

On love, art-making, friendship and all the things

For many people, making their living as a creative professional is a dream. For today’s podcast guests Kelly Rae Roberts and Mati Rose McDonough, it’s the life path they have chosen. It hasn’t always been easy, but their friendship has played a huge part in keeping them inspired and motivated through the good times and the tough times.

I am especially delighted to have them on the show, together, because of the pivotal role they have played in my life. Get yourself a cuppa and pull up a chair. You’ll feel like you are round the kitchen table with these inspiring ladies…


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What do you want to be grateful for, years from now?


Greetings from a cosy rainy England – such a difference from just a week ago. Right now my mum is building a theatre with our two little ones, and Mr K and I are in a café reviewing our numbers. We do this regularly, checking in on where we are, what’s going well, what has fallen behind, what we want to change, what we want to celebrate. And we each get to do this with one of our favourite people in the world. I am so grateful for the many varied opportunities entrepreneurship has brought to my door, but mostly I am grateful that we get to dream, plan and bring it to life together.

I’ll let you into a little secret. Back in the beginning, when I first started my business, every time Mr K came home from work (he was an civil engineer back then), we would do a high five for every course that had been sold that day. One day, soon after launching our first e-course there were a couple of high fives, a few more the next day, one the next, a couple the next and so on. It became a small but important reminder that it was working – this idea to do something different, and support others wanting to do something different, was working. I’ll never forget the first time we sold over 100 courses in a day, and our hands hurt from all the high fives, and our faces hurt from the grinning. It wasn’t about the money, it was about the freedom. I had created something from nothing, and it was helping people. That still blows my mind today, eight years on.

A couple of years after that day, the business was flourishing well enough for Mr K to quit his job completely and come on board. He started the first Monday after our honeymoon. It took a while for us to find our working rhythm, figuring out how best to use his skills, for me to let go of the need to do everything myself, and for him to get used to a very different way of working. But here we are, more than five years on, and he is absolutely crucial to the success of our business. He also gets paid a lot more than before, to work a lot fewer hours and spend large amounts of precious time with our daughters. We are building a life and future for our family, not just growing a business.

I am thinking about all this because tomorrow sees the start of our brand new online course, co-taught with my Make Art That Sells (MATS) co-founder Lilla Rogers. For the first time ever we are sharing all we have learned about money – in the context of business and life – in an intense and fun three week crash course, MATS MBA (Money BadAss). I love the title of the course because it is so Lilla – she has a brilliant attitude to business, while being both nurturing and fun, and a total badass. We combine strategy, practical guidance, advice on dealing with money stories and of course some woo, to bring you what I think will soon become one of our favourite courses. With daily video lessons, weekly live teaching and an amazing Playbook that provides a Game Plan for your business over the next twelve months. Class has just started but you can still squeeze in here.

Even if you don’t have a business, this week I want to challenge you to answer this question: What do you want to be grateful for having done NOW, in a few years’ time? I’d love to know your answer – come and share over on Instagram @bethkempton.

Have a great week

Beth Xx