Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert is the author of Eat, Love, Pray which I love and this book she has written is another amazing book.  Her main advice in this book is to protect your creativity.  Elizabeth says that for your creativity to grow, you should not put the pressure on it to earn you an income.  If you want to write then write or do whatever or go wherever your creativity takes you.  If your dream is to be a published author then go for it, but enjoy what you are doing and don’t let it become a burden, emotionally and financially.

 

The book emphasizes in several ways that you don’t have to be educated to be creative and that education is really another way of asking for permission to do what you want to do.  Because we are so unsure about ourselves, we end up spending hundreds of pounds on education that we might not be able to afford and that really, you may not even need.

 

The book is split into 6 parts.  It starts off with having the courage to follow your creativity and how to overcome your fear including stop being a perfectionist which is just a fancy word for fear.  The next part is about enchantment and how an idea can come to you when you least expect I it and how to allow it to come and to be open to it.  She talks about an idea as it is a living breathing person who will come to you if you allow it.  But if you talk yourself out if it, then the idea will get offended and go away or even get bored of waiting if you don’t do anything about it.

 

The third section is called permission and it is in this area where she talks about getting an education and furthering your knowledge without getting into debt.  There are lots of places where you can get your knowledge and inspiration from such as books, museums and having mentors in unusual places, is not just your teacher.  Obviously, if you have the money, you can get the education you require but don’t beat yourself up either way.  It emphasizes on giving yourself permission to go out there and create, whether one person sees it or lots but you don’t necessarily need to go and find someone to be your mentor and give yourself permission.

 

The next part is about persistence and how to keep going.  At 16 years old, she made a vow to herself that she was going to write, not published or become famous but to write regardless of the results and as a committed ‘spouse’ she would provide for the writing financially, not expect the writing to provide for her.  There were lots of people who she knew who had lost hope and had given up on their art and would get depressed by it all. Some people were even taught that you had to be low to produce work which she confirms is not the case at all.

 

The last two sections were on trust and divinity.  Elizabeth talks about whether the writing loves you and not to get sad and depressed by it, as it seems to be the artists’ way of life, but to let it make you happy – “The work wants to be made through you”

 

One of the parts that really affected me was the part on are you a martyr or a trickster because nobody likes a martyr who sacrifices their life for the greater good or something.  The trickster on the other hand sees the problem as a challenge, something interesting that life has thrown at you which you need to figure out how to do. 

 

There are lots of contrasts in this book.  For example, you need to work hard but not take yourself so seriously, you need to be childlike and be curious and inquisitive but not childish, to treat creativity as sacred but also to be playful.  This book has been a refreshing break from the books I have been reading recently which have been focusing on how to be successful.  It sort of takes the pressure of you to do this and to just enjoy life and what you are doing, even if it’s in bits and pieces as if you’re having an affair with your writing.

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