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.

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.

Rituals and Routines when writing

WriteOver at The Huffington Post is a post about the benefits of routines and rituals in order to get your writing done. Each of us create the rituals that suits us, routines are more generic and worth learning from others. The post list the following five routines and rituals:

1. Write Before I Do Anything Else (Routine)
2. Write 5 Days A Week, Minimum (Routine)
3. Release Fears, Doubts and Excuses On the Regular (Ritual)
4. Acting “As If” (Ritual)
5. Amping Up My Mindset (Ritual)

When we write during the day is personal, the benefit of doing it first thing in the morning is that it gets done before other cores take over. She writes “Put your writing first. It’s the only way.” but I disagree. There’s no only way, figure out what works for you. I like my current morning routine which means I need to fit my writing in somewhere else during the day.

Creating a consistent writing routine (and sticking to it) is gold. She writes “Figure out a writing routine you can stick with consistently every week and then commit to showing up.”

What I love under mindset is this: “I’m a writer. I came here to show up, shine and make a difference with my words.”

Read the full article at 5 Rituals and Routines That Changed My Writing Life.

Bad writing precedes good writing

I posted about That elusive book of mine about a month ago. We have lots of ideas for topics but I haven’t done much actual writing. I got stuck with the idea that if I couldn’t write well then I shouldn’t write at all. Then this quote turned up and reminded we that practice makes perfect (or at least helps us get better at waht we’re doing). In other words, start writing and things will happen.

Bad writing precedes good writing. This is an infallible rule, so don’t waste time trying to avoid bad writing. (That just slows down the process.) Anything committed to paper can be changed. The idea is to start, and then go from there. – Janet Hulstrand

Bad writing precedes good writing

Simple questions for writers

Seth Godin has a great post with “simple” questions for writers. The questions are these:

  1. What is it for? (What’s your intention?)
  2. Who are you? (What’s your role?)
  3. Who is it for?
  4. Will it spread?

For the full post, go to Simple questions for writers.

I love the ending text: Writing can make a difference. Write to make a difference.

That elusive book of mine

For a longer time I’ve wanted to write a book. Several people have told me I ought to share what I know. The catch is that what I’ve written so far is purely for my own pleasure and nothing to share. Now things change – for the better. I have a partner in crime, we intend to create the book together. We’re in the same business, helping people change and develop, and we work on our own change and development as well.

There’s no deadline set but we’re intent on keeping a steady pace. Since we’re in the beginning of our book project it’s still more of bouncing topics and ideas than actually writing. The introduction, still a draft, looks like this:

The book is written with a very small audience – ourselves. At the same time, we know that the book is relevant to many more. When we now share the book with others, the goal is that the book will provide both inspiration and insights. We want the book to lead to reflection. Above all, we want to inspire and motivate you the reader to make the changes that you want to do.

The book is based on our own personal and spiritual development, supplemented by experiences of working with clients. It is a sometimes meandering journey between different subjects and problems and joys. We have done our best to avoid lecturing and platitudes. Where relevant, we have tips and tools so that you as readers have the opportunity to gain practical utility of the book.

Drafts and snippets will be posted in my blogs. That means here at Bengt’s Notes as well as at Bengt Wendel (Swedish), GRS Mentor (English), GRS Mentor (Swedish) and at The Mental Leap.

If the stuff that you're writing is not for yourself, it won't work. - Stephen King

Reasons to write

Jeff Goins blogs about The Wrong Reasons to Write. I only qoute the lists, Jeff expands more on them in his post.

The wrong reasons to write
You want to be heard.
You want to be famous, to make a name for yourself.
You want to impress people with big words and sound smart.
You want to make a ton of money.

The right reasons to write
You have something important to say.
You want to make others feel understood, like they’re not alone.
You want to make a difference with your words.
You want to teach the world something it wouldn’t otherwise know.

I struggle with my own, often non-existing, writing. To me Jeff’s right reasons to write makes sense when it comes to writing with the purpose to share it with others. Having something to say and to make a difference, to have an impact, are terrific reasons to write. I’m still mostly writing for myself, to get into the habit of writing.

Everything that needs to be said has already been said

Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again.
André Gide

I came across the quote above in Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative. One excuse I have used for not writing is that everything has already been said and written. Who am I to be able to add anything new? What André Gide says makes my excuse crumble, good things are worth repeating and phrase in new ways.

Blogg100 2014, day 7

Today was the first day I let it slip and did not post anything in Blogg100 2014. I make that up by backdating a post.

Fail fast and cheap. Fail often. Fail in a way that doesn’t kill you.

In connection to a post on Facebook about blogging I found this comment:

I cringe at the thought of converting ideas in my head into words. But the more I read about writing, the more I realize I need to just get over the fear and feel some pain to allow the magic to happen.

That’s highly relevant for me. I need to push through, write for the sake of writing and then publish in order to fail fast and often. Failing on my own blogs are for free, all it takes is actually to publish.

Update Blogg100 didn’t work for me, I missed several days and then quit. I got to find other ways that keep me blogging.