Elizabeth Gilbert’s keys to a big, creative life

A very interesting interview with Elizabeth Gilbert turned up in my Facebook stream. Elizabeth Gilbert’s keys to a big, creative life is 50 minutes well spent. I love to hear her talk about creativity and fear.

From that interview is a link to another interview, just as interesting! This interview is from February 2015: Elizabeth Gilbert is guided in her life and writing by curiosity

More with Elizabeth Gilbert

Her TED-talk: A different way to think about creative genius
A book review: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

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.
Buddha

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.

Images and texts

Lots of images cross our ways online. Facebook is full of images, with or without inspirational texts. So are Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, Tumblr and many more sites. When it comes to what an image awakes in us someone elses text often limit us, just like our text might limit others.

Here’s an image I really like, you get it without any text. Enjoy whatever the image awakes in you!

You Don’t Call Me. I Call You

The business card below popped up on a friends wall on Facebook. It’s a card with attitude and the story behind how it ended up in the press can be read at The Best Business Card Ever: A Warren Buffett Story, Starring His Girl Friday, Devon Spurgeon.

The Huffington Post wrote about it too at Devon Spurgeon, Warren Buffett’s Chief Of Staff, Keeps Hilarious Business Card: ‘You Don’t Call Me. I Call You’.

For some occasions that kind of card can be useful but using a Gmail address is a bit generic. I, for fun, bought the domain youdontcallme-icallyou.com which carries the message in a different way.

Michael Wolff – Intel Visual Life

This is a really interesting video, six minutes well spent. Michael Wolff talks about his three “muscles”: Curiosity, Appreciation and Imagination. He says about cooking that “You never cook the same meal twice.” That goes for other things too, a beginner’s mind makes things fresh.

Video: Intel Visual Life – Michael Wolff

Source: Intel Visual Life – Michael Wolff.

Zen Brush

I have bought Zen Brush and I really enjoy it.

Enjoy performing zen art on your iPad or iPhone.
Zen Brush is an app that allows you to easily enjoy the feeling of using an ink brush to write or to paint. It allows anyone to easily perform fluent strokes while not compromising on the fascinating texture of a real ink brush. Create works that radiate the right atmosphere by choosing the best background template from our large collection. You can even post your works easily on twitter.

So far what I do is more like doodle with a brush but it’s fascinating. It’s mindfulness, full focus on what you are doing, and work as a tool for meditation too. Since it’s digital it’s easy to erase and start over again. I practice with my non-dominant hand too, it’s good to use both hands.

Creative Business Valuation

37Signals posts a press release stating that 37SIGNALS VALUATION TOPS $100 BILLION AFTER BOLD VC INVESTMENT. The press release starts like this:

37signals is now a $100 billion dollar company, according to a group of investors who have agreed to purchase 0.000000001% of the company in exchange for $1.

Founder Jason Fried describes one way – quite commonly used by startups – to increase the value of a company:

In order to increase the value of the company, 37signals has decided to stop generating revenues. “When it comes to valuation, making money is a real obstacle. Our profitability has been a real drag on our valuation,” said Mr. Fried. “Once you have profits, it’s impossible to just make stuff up. That’s why we’re switching to a ‘freeconomics’ model. We’ll give away everything for free and let the market speculate about how much money we could make if we wanted to make money. That way, the sky’s the limit!”

I love this post, creative and inspiring. First comment says ‘shoulda waited to post this on April 1st’ but the impact is higher now.

To see what 37Signals really stand for, go to Simple small business software, collaboration, CRM: 37signals. They have interesting software solutions that I intend to look at.

Let limitations guide you to creative solutions

I came across this text in “Motivating Yourself – Heroes, Role Models & Rivals” which links to the source at Embrace Constraints (37signals)

Let limitations guide you to creative solutions
There’s never enough to go around. Not enough time. Not enough money. Not enough people.

That’s a good thing.

Instead of freaking out about these constraints, embrace them. Let them guide you. Constraints drive innovation and force focus. Instead of trying to remove them, use them to your advantage.

This was originally posted at another (now extinct) blog of mine.

A different way to think about creative genius

At TED Talks there is a terrific talk by Elizabeth Gilbert: A different way to think about creative genius.

Elizabeth Gilbert muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses — and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person “being” a genius, all of us “have” a genius. It’s a funny, personal and surprisingly moving talk.

I like this talk a lot and am also very impressed by her presentation. No PowerPoint or other stuff, “only” her talking and I am spellbound. There are lessons to be learned.

Update April 17, 2009
Men With Pens write about How to Stay Sane and Alive if You’re Creative.

Update November 20, 2009
Marion Chapsal has posted a great analysis of this presentation at Olé to You! Don’t Be Afraid, Just Do Your Talk!

Update January 4, 2010
At Lateral Action is a great post about Elizabeth Gilbert: Is Creativity Divinely Inspired?

This was originally posted at Forty Plus Two, another blog of mine.

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