Are you creative? Have you ever considered that question? Well Elizabeth Gilbert has given it serious consideration and has published her thoughts in ‘Big Magic. Creative Living Beyond Fear.’
Having watched her Ted Talk on said subject, I was immediately curious when I read about the publication of this book, because I thought her talk was witty, informative and inspiring.
This may be seen as another ‘self-help’ book, but whether you loved ‘Eat Pray Love’ or hated it, Gilbert apparently doesn’t care either way, and this attitude permeates much of her advice regarding creativity – i.e. – don’t give a damn about what anyone thinks, just do it anyway.
The book is divided up into six parts, entitled; Courage, Enchantment, Permission, Persistence, Trust and Divinity. Through a mixture of her own experiences, anecdotes and words of wisdom she has collected from others, she takes us on a journey through our own creative minds. She begins with a very pertinent question: ‘Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?’ She goes on to say that if we can find the courage to uncover the hidden jewels of creativity that may be lying dormant within us, then we can turn a mundane existence into a more interesting and therefore extraordinary life.
She urges us to follow our curiosity, saying “curiosity is the truth and the way of creative living”.
This is not an intellectual book. There is no scientific evidence for any of it. It is more like a pep talk from your best friend, albeit with plenty of good anecdotes, quotes and ideas thrown in.
However, despite its lack of serious research, what I love about this book is not only the wit, charm and wisdom displayed in every chapter, but that it does provide practical advice, and it also made me feel more inspired. Gilbert doesn’t expect us to be geniuses or to be perfect. She appreciates rejection, the nature of how reality can kick you up the bum, and the frustration one can sometimes experience in living a creative life. But she wants you to do it anyway, because as she says in other words, doesn’t it make life a lot more interesting?
There is also some good advice for the perfectionists out there: “You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures. You can battle your demons (through therapy, recovery, prayer, or humility) instead of battling your gifts — in part by realizing that your demons were never the ones doing the work, anyhow.”
There are fabulous anecdotes within Big Magic. From Clive James painting bicycles, to a man going to a fancy dress as a lobster, only to discover it was a medieval court themed fancy dress; each anecdote contains a lesson or message on creativity.
This is a book you can pick up every day and just read a couple of pages to set you up for the day. Gilbert doesn’t preach and she doesn’t teach. Instead she shares her experiences and offers some advice to bring out your best, most interesting creative self. If you are looking for a serious book full of research and statistics, this book is not for you, but I don’t mind a bit of light hearted creative banter, in fact I enjoy it enormously. I found this a joyful book and I would recommend it – you may just find that nugget of wisdom you seek.