I just finished Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert and I love it. The book is about creative living, regardless of what you’re creating. Whether you’re a writer, painter, photographer, do pottery or anything else this book is inspiring. The book description at The Book Depository says:
Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now, this beloved author shares her wisdom and unique understanding of creativity, shattering the perceptions of mystery and suffering that surround the process – and showing us all just how easy it can be. By sharing stories from her own life, as well as those from her friends and the people that have inspired her, Elizabeth Gilbert challenges us to embrace our curiosity, tackle what we most love and face down what we most fear. Whether you long to write a book, create art, cope with challenges at work, embark on a long-held dream, or simply to make your everyday life more vivid and rewarding, Big Magic will take you on a journey of exploration filled with wonder and unexpected joys.
I love the book, how it’s written as well as Gilbert’s view on how creativity and ideas work. Much of the context is familiar but Gilbert uses storytelling (from her own life as well as others) to emphasize things and make her point. The five main parts in the book – courage, enchantment, permission, persistence and trust – cover all that’s essential.
The key things I got from the book was to rely on my curiosity, to write for myself, to get started (and keep going) because no one else will do my work.
Some quotes from the book
I’m the kind of person that underline text that is important to me. Your mileage might vary, here are some of what I marked.
Creative living: I’m talking about living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.
The essential ingredients for creativity remain exactly the same for everybody: courage, enchantment, permission, persistence and trust.
Argue for your limitations and you get to keep them. (I needed that one…)
Bravery means doing something scary. Fearlessness means not even understanding what the word scary means
You are not required to save the world with your creativity. I would prefer that you made your art in order to save yourself rather than to save or relieve us. (I needed this one too…)
Perfectionism stops people from completing their work but even worse, it often stops people from beginning their work.
Curiosity vs passion
Gilbert writes about curiosity versus passion. Instead of chasing a passion (which might be hard to find), follow your curiosity. I love that, curiosity is a powerful tool.
Curiosity only ever asks one simple question: is there anything you’re interested in?
Instead of asking what you would do if you couldn’t fail Gilbert raises a far more interesing question:
What do you love doing so much that the words failure and success essentially become irrelevant?
Sit down and write!
Gilbert wrote “Done is better than good” and Seth Godin often talks about shipping (get things ready and deliver them). Even Buddha seems to share the same view.
An idea that is developed and put into action is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea.
Is the book for you?
I suggest you take a look at Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED presentation about creativity, A different way to think about creative genius. If you like the content of that presentation then the book is for you.