Big Magic – Creative living beyond fear
written by Elizabeth Gilbert, published by Cargo
genre nonfiction / self-help, 256 pages
While traveling trough Australia I picked up Elizabeth Gilbert’s book ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ and fell in love with her writing immediately. I love her personal tone of voice, her humour and the way she intertwines her own life into her stories. Reading her books feels like talking to a friend, a friend who’s giving me advice, telling me about her own life and experiences. ‘Big Magic’ is exactly that; Elizabeth being her honest and lovely self while explaining the mystery of creativity.
The story in short
Elizabeth divides the creative process into six sections, the six chapters of the book. She explains where creativity comes from, and how inspiration and motivation can be found. She tells us to have the courage, to let go of fears and anxiety and to enjoy the creative process. She knows how hard it can be hard at times, when inspiration is nowhere to be found and you might even wonder why you started the project in the first place. It helps to know that it’s just a phase you’re going through and sooner or later inspiration will come back. All you have to do is stick to your project and keep on going.
“Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.
The rest of it will take care of itself.”
– Elizabeth Gilbert
As mentioned Big Magic is broken into six sections: Courage, Enchantment, Permission, Persistence, Trust and Divinity. A creative life can be divided into those stages and it’s up to you to deal with each and every one of them.
Courage: Elizabeth starts with the question whether you do have the courage to share with the world the treasures that can be found within you. Do you have the courage to start this adventure, to dive into the unknown? Insecurity and fear might be a part of this process, are you willing to deal with that?
Enchantment: Elizabeth believes inspiration to come from a magical source outside ourselves. An idea searches for the right person to collaborate with, somebody who’s open, willing, curious and disciplined to make the project succeed. I think looking at inspiration like it comes from an external source makes it easier to go through the creative process and deal with the (un)successful outcome of the project. The genius was either with or without you, you’re just the person who helped to fulfill the project.
Permission: you don’t need anybody’s permission to follow your passions and live life creatively. Follow your curiosity and don’t do it for anybody else. Even Big Magic wasn’t written for us, Elizabeth followed her own interests and curiosity and actually wrote this book just for her own satisfaction. That we also find meaning in it is absolutely wonderful, but that doesn’t mean a project is less valuable when that isn’t the case.
Persistance: a creative process, just like every job, also contains less pleasant parts. Instead of wondering what you would love to do, you should ask yourself what you love doing so much, that you’re willing to deal with the shitty parts as well. Interesting question, isn’t it?!
Trust: just like you love creativity, creativity does love you as well. Have trust the project wants to be made and that it wants to be made by you!
Divinity: when we act as playfully as possible, divinity can do serious business with us. A creative and inspirational life is full of paradoxes. When you embrace these paradoxes, you can make anything you want!
Everybody can be creative and the creative process is both lovely and hard for everyone, whether you’re successful or unsuccessful, a professional or an amateur. Just remember that following your curiosity and developing your creativity probably won’t bring you any external success, but it for sure will bring you a fun and interesting life and definitely internal satisfaction. Nothing should keep you from following your passions or keep you from living a curious and interesting life!
“A creative life is an amplified life.
It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life,
and a hell of a lot more interesting life.”
– Elizabeth Gilbert
Why you should read this book
Big Magic gave me some insights, maybe even approval, that I’d been looking for for years. After graduating from Art School, I felt like I had to live up to my title and earn my money as a designer. Not being able to do so made me feel like a failure. Thankfully I followed my heart and decided that I love being creative but my creativity doesn’t necessarily have to bring food to my table. I can earn money with a less creative job, a job I might even really like. Even though I do have a creative job right now, reading this book reassured me of how I want to use my creativity; without any expectations but with a lot of fun!
In case you’re right in the middle of one of those moments, wondering how you’re going to finish a project or why you even started it in the first place, or if you’re interested in the creative process and the origin of inspiration, Big Magic is a book you should definitely read!