Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Live Your Life Creatively- No Matter What

Title: Big Magic

Author: Elizabeth Gilbert

Genre: Self-help

Pages: 304

Published: 2016

Rating: 4/5

To see inspiration as its own separate, mystified entity was a concept I never thought to consider before reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic, but it is a perspective that has influentially changed the way I view my creative outlet. Though Gilbert’s mindset is one I have respected since her masterful Eat Pray Love memoir, it is through the words she blesses us with in Big Magic that made me start to believe she might be a separate, mystified entity herself! The way she portrays inspiration, how it finds us, what it gives to us, and how we can seize its opportunities, is some of the most innovative ideas that I have heard in terms of creativity.

Now, I just have to say that I appreciate Gilbert making her point as blunt and as clear as possible in terms of creative inspiration. Basically, she says if you’re creating in hopes of a fat paycheck and a claim to fame, you’re doing it wrong. If you’re creating for the purpose of external success, you’re setting yourself up for failure. But that’s not meant to be a disappointing factor. This is not Gilbert telling her audience that they’re never going to be successful and they are all a bunch of losers. But she talks a lot about this idea that so many of us find what inspires us and then the moment we do not become a huge success in its pursuit, we discourage ourselves and grow resentful towards the one thing that made us feel good. But really, that whole mindset is really where the problem is.

Inspiration is not about what it can give to us. It is not about how it can put food on our tables or take us out of debt or turn us into this widely influential artist. It’s about creating a committed relationship with your creativity and inspiration, simply because having a committed relationship with your creativity and inspiration makes you feel like a Rockstar just for doing it. For you. For the sake of your sanity and your need for an outlet of expression.

But that’s not really what gave me the biggest revelations while reading this book. What got me was this idea that if we do not pay attention to our creative ideas, we will lose them. She mentions how important it is to harbor inspiration when it comes knocking at your door, to deem yourself worthy of its visiting you by making sure you do not let it slip from your fingers. For if you do, it’ll be right on to the next person to utilize instead. Creativity is a gift to us from the universe, but it will not stay where it does not feel welcome. Welcome it in, and it will move into your inspired pursued.

She wants her audience to know that to be considered a legitimate creative, all you have to do is create. Constantly and consistence create. She reminds us that there is never a perfect time or place to create, but to just seize every opportunity it gives you when it presents itself. That is what creative living is truly about. Creative living is about the pure joy that is brought when you do what you are compelled to do through your outlet of expression, and Gilbert wants us to hone that idea so that we can keep its magic alive in its most authentic form.

I’ve said this before, but it is instinctual for me to assume that all matters of self-help books are cliché and oversaturated and a bit pretentious. However, thanks to women like Gilbert, I am beginning to see how necessary this type of insight is. And she doesn’t portray any of her thoughts in a way that make her seem more entitled than the next person to say what she does. She presents it to us in a way like, “Look, you want to hear what I think on the matter? Stick around. I’ve got some shit to say…” and it works for the reader who may normally want to shy away from this type of content. It’s a fresh perspective, and it is not at all preachy.

I think if there’s one general take-away that needs to be had from reading Big Magic its that we cannot allow the pressures to be “successfully creative” to ruin our genuine joy for the compelling desire to create. I, for one, can say that I have almost thrown in the hat numerous times on my creative ventures because I felt my only means of being a valid writer was to be a published one. But writers like Gilbert remind me that I am just fucking grateful I get to create. I am just soaring on cloud nine because I was blessed with a door that allows inspiration to knock on it. I am just glad I am worthy of creating at all. But for so many years I battled with trying not to resent this pursuit when I thought I’d never be “successful.” Creating is successful. That’s it. There’s nothing more to it.

I have a feeling Big Magic is going to be one of those books I go back to over and over when I need an uplift and a reminder of why living a creative life is so special. It is one of those books that will teach me new things each time I go along through it. Plus, y’all, it was such an easy read. The way Gilbert lays out her chapters makes you turn pages like a madwoman. I finished it in two days. But, I also was just completely captivated by the ideas she was feeding to me.

If you want to check out Gilbert’s book, you can go here to find out more about it. She is one of my favorite writers of all time, and I always recommend her work to other writers and booklovers. I highly suggest you give her books a shot.

And let me know if you do! I’d love to ramble about what you got out of her ideas.

-Christine Weimer, @beacolorfulyou

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