Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work, embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.
One of my earliest memories is of trying to draw a picture. I don’t remember what I was drawing, just that I was so frustrated because I couldn’t translate what was in my head onto the page. It was just a bunch of squiggles. That was the first time my perfectionism clashed with my creativity. Over time, perfectionism won and convinced me I wasn’t a creative person. I ended up a professional writer, yet I still believe I’m not creative. I weave words together almost every day, but I still don’t think my factual writing makes me a creative person. Big Magic made me look at things in a new light.
Gilbert has this wonderful image of ideas, as things which are attracted to those who can bring them to life. I loved this way of looking at things, as ideas only latching onto those brave enough to see them through. It was a whole new way of looking at creativity for me, the thought that ideas are accessible to everyone. For so many years, I closed myself off because I didn’t believe I was a creative person. But now I see creativity doesn’t have to mean drawing a masterpiece or writing a novel. I did have flashes of amazing ideas which became passion projects for me. The only thing stopping was my belief in myself.
The element of Big Magic that affected me most was the discussion on perfectionism, fear and how it can stop work before it even begins. This is definitely something which stops me. Even at work, I always have to write the right intro before I finish a story. I mean, partly it’s because things just flow better that way. But I’ve also always hated the thought of looking at that shitty first draft. Even though it would only be me looking. I see it’s irrational and yet, the thought of writing something imperfect is so scary. Reading Big Magic made me see how much of a waste this was though and convinced me to try just getting things done. It’s great I’ve got this little blog to give that a try.
Giving yourself permission to try was something else Gilbert discusses in Big Magic. Fear of what people will think, fear of failure and rejection is really the only thing that’s stopped me from trying new things in the past in any aspect of my life, but especially creativity. Sometimes I think social media makes this worse and not just because it’s the easiest procrastination tool out there. When you see all these amazing ideas and things being made, it’s so easy to think there’s no point trying. Surely your idea isn’t original after all? Maybe. But why should that stop you giving it a go? And that’s where Gilbert stepped in and reminded me we’re all allowed to give things a go. It’s just a matter of doing it. As Gilbert writes, “you will never be able to create anything interesting out of your life if you don’t believe that you’re entitled to at least try”.
Every person who reads Big Magic is sure to take something completely different away from it. I’m sure it will drive some to create more, others might still overwhelmed. I’m somewhere in the middle. I’m going to try and write more, care less about it and seize the ideas which give me that sparking adrenaline rush of energy.