Despite the title, this isn’t yet another book review of yet another fantasy book ( don’t worry–I’ll have plenty of those in the future). My older sister over at The Beautiful Elements recommended this book to me and said that it really helped her re-frame her thoughts on creativity and inspiration. I’ll admit that I was skeptical at first (I’ve never read anything by Elizabeth Gilbert, not even Eat, Pray, Love) and I wasn’t even certain how to define my thoughts on creativity.
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert is exactly what the title says. The entire book is how she views creativity (as a mystical, divine force outside of ourselves) and how she does her best to work with it, work without it, and work despite it. She tackles how she believes creativity comes to each of us and how, if we don’t accept to work this idea it brings to us, creativity will then take the idea to another person (similar to the concept of how people on different continents had the same idea at the same point in time–but there’s no way they ever talked or crossed paths).
She discusses the trope of the tortured artist and how we’re all really doing ourselves a disservice by only creating through negativity (the idea that we have to suffer in order for our art to be considered legitimate or real). This stretch of the book was one that really spoke to me. Because I can’t say I’ve ever really felt like a tortured artist (other than when I am writing as a release from a negative emotion or moaning about how no inspiration is coming to me), I’ve always wondered subconsciously if there’s some reason I’m holding myself back or stopping myself from doing something I enjoy. Maybe this was part of it–wondering how legitimate I was.
I’ll stop there. But overall, I really enjoyed this book and it has helped me think a little more on my creative process and how to best continue trying to incorporate it into my life and make time for it. There are so many things that I want to do and I always feel like I don’t have enough time. But I do. I just have to make sure I make time (just like writing this at 5:27 a.m. on a Tuesday morning). Even the copious amounts of research I’ve done for stories, I’ve wondered if I can consider it part of my creative process and she discusses curiosity as inspiration and Big Magic waiting in the wings for you to put it together.
(If you’re wondering what I didn’t especially like, it was that had a few sections about higher education that she indicated she was against paying money for and that she did incorporate a lot of quotes from other famous friends. Which was cool and I really liked a lot of those quotes, but after the fifth time, it started taking me out of her narrative.)
If you’re looking for a book that’s no-nonsense yet understanding (because she’s been there, too)) about creativity (not just writing, though this book focuses on that) and living a creative life to feel more fulfilled, I recommend this book. This is one of those times I was happy to be proven wrong of my skepticism and read a book that was surprisingly close to my thoughts while improving my stance on creativity, inspiration, the muses, all that jazz.
To wrap up this post, I’ll finish with a quote. I wrote down ten quotes from Big Magic that spoke to me. Maybe I’ll write them all up on a canvas as a reminder to myself and stick it in my room somewhere. This is a quote from the middle of the book, where she discusses ideas that are shared between people by creativity (dubbed Big Magic by her).
“Most things have already been done — but they have not yet been done by you.” (Elizabeth Gilbert: Big Magic, pg. 97)