Elizabeth Gilbert’s book somehow found it’s way to me when I needed it most. In the early stages of a pandemic, everything felt entirely new, overwhelming, and unbelievable. Yet, at the same time, I found myself in a position to pivot my creativity. The name Elizabeth Gilbert might ring a bell. Bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love (2007), her follow-up to the follow-up to the follow-up is Big Magic: Creating Living Beyond Fear.
A decade ago, I was too young to sympathize with Gilbert’s life hurdles. Now, being nearly the same age as her at the time of Eat, Play, Love (which is referenced several times in this book), I suddenly understand her journey to self-discovery a bit more.
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert Book Review
Describe in one word: Courageous
Genre: Nonfiction/ Self-Help
Good Reads Rating: 3.9/5
Why we choose this book
Big Magic is Elizabeth Gilbert’s ode to inspiration and creativity. Through engaging storytelling and thought-provoking ideas, Big Magic reads like an optimist fortune cookie. Gilbert writes with wit and humor giving you a sense of calmness and self-affirmation: “You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures.“; “You are not required to save the world with your creativity.”
“What do you love doing so much that the words failure and success essentially become irrelevant?” ― Elizabeth Gilbert
Gilbert reminds us that intuition can be the creative force inside of you. Whether you want to be a painter, writer, or ballroom dancer, by the time you get to the last page, you will be rushing out to cultivate your creativity
What the book is about
Big Magic takes you through the depths of Elizabeth Gilbert’s unique creative process to guide you on mustering up the courage to live a more creative life. By definition, creative living is to live a life that is led by curiosity rather than fear. Gilbert seeks to show readers that the act of creativity does not have to be a tortured, unnecessary, and suffering process. Instead, she concedes we must learn to coexist with fear. To be stupendously imperfect, to be good enough. Onward ever, backward never.
“Fear is always triggered by creativity because creativity asks you to enter into realms of uncertain outcome. This is nothing to be ashamed of. It is, however, something to be dealt with.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.
Through Gilbert’s experiences, tales of her friends’ endeavors, and self-actualizing territory of Eat, Pray, Love Gilbert discusses the challenging aspects of creative living. She advises on rejection, doubt, and habits we need to have to live a creative life
Gilbert’s philosophy on creativity derives from ancient Greece and ancient Rome. During a time in which people believed that creativity was an attendant spirit that came to human beings from some distant, unknowable source. The Romans called this creative spirit, a genius—a sort of magical divine entity. Ideas, Gilbert says, choose their owners. And they only come to you if you are open to receiving them.
For more insight into Gilbert’s radical idea of what “being” a genius actually means, watch her TED 2009 Talk “Your elcusive creative genius.”
Life lessons from Big Magic
- Permit yourself to create: Reading Big Magic is like a permission slip. The thought “I’m going to start a blog on maternity leave” sounded like a great idea- for about 12 seconds. Then fear sunk in. I strongly dislike writing and would prefer to remain reclusive. But the truth is, most of the time, creative people are their own biggest obstacle. Gilbert argues that you must believe you are entitled to create, no matter what rejection you may face. You need to stand up to your inner voices and announce yourself to the universe, “I’m a blogger,” as she suggests you do.
- Let go of your fantasy of perfection: To gather the courage to pursue our creative life, we have to overcome self-doubt and perfectionism. A subject you should be all too familiar with if you have read Daring Greatly. Gilbert suggests acting like your creativity is the most crucial thing in the world, but at the same time, it works as if the outcome doesn’t matter. All you have to do is be good enough, just to complete something. The creative process does not have to be painful, and you should not have to suffer.
- Led a curious life: Ask yourself, is there anything you are interested in? Follow that small clue of curiosity, and that is where interesting will begin. Success doesn’t necessarily define the most passionate people. It’s the most curious people.
Who is Big Magic for
It is never too late to start creating. Big Magic is a modern classic for both mothers, fathers, children, or grandparents in need of confidence or reassurance to live a creative life. You do not need a career in the arts or a craft in which you dedicate your mind, body, and soul. But what you do need is the courage to choose curiosity over fear to find the treasure inside yourself. When the idea has found you, then the magic happens.
Suggested further reading
Daring Greatly by Dr. Brené Brown
Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic is just one book to help develop intuition and creativity. I highly reccomend you take a look at all “12 books to read to transform 2020.” This will give you an entire list of books to challenge the way you think, push you to face your fears, and do what ignites your soul.