Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work, embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.
Genre: Non-fiction, Self-Help
I may be one of the few people to have read Elizabeth Gilbert without having read Eat Pray Love. In fact, this is the first book by her that I’m getting into. I know, shocker. This is a book that grabbed my attention right away with its literal explosion of color on the cover, and seeing the words “creative living” immediately made me think, “Hey, this might just be for me.” After reading this book in under a week, I would have to say I was right.
Big Magic is obviously not a book that’s meant to sweep you away to faraway lands, but it does seem to ask you to imagine a more magical plane of existence. Gilbert uses this self-help oriented book to suggest that creative endeavors – whether it be novel writing, visual art, or painting stars on the bikes of little children – are shrouded in more mystical origins than we humans could ever hope to understand. She introduces us to stories of creatives that have come to inspire just a few to thousands of readers and scholars with the uninhibited approach to creativity they’ve adopted, and then she gives us the tools to pursue our own creativity in the same way. Gilbert uses the 288-page length of this work to outline her own suffering-free path to a fulfilling and magical creative life.
What I love so much about this book is how Elizabeth’s personality bubbles right off the page. It feels as if I’m having a writing conference right in my living room. The way she talks about her experiences in writing, and interacting with other creatives, shows how exhilarated and inspired she gets from those moments, and in turn made me feel the same way. The energy and humor of this novel is undeniable as Elizabeth speaks of emotions we can all relate to including a fear of failure.
“SCARY, SCARY, SCARY. Everything is so goddamn scary.” – Big Magic
While many would say Gilbert has an overly optimistic outlook of creativity, she keeps a grip on reality noting that while creativity can be seen as a mystical thing, it can equally be demystified, if that’s what needs to be done for you. At no point does Gilbert suggest there is only one path to living life creatively, and that this process is about allowing yourself to see all possibilities, rather than choosing a life of suffering often celebrated by successful creatives, who work painstakingly for their craft.
What makes this book such a good read is that it endeavors to free creators from the task of being the best at what they do – or even the best in their town – and focus on making work that fulfills them at all times. If it’s not something you truly get your rocks off on, why are you doing it? This is a concept I think a lot of aspiring authors don’t embrace as they get caught up in their dreams of landing career launching publishing deals, followed up with book signings, autographs on the street, and a movie deal to rival The Fault in Our Stars. When applying this to the writer’s life, it makes you really question if you’re doing this if you love the outcome, or if you love the process. Loving the former seems like going down a narrow road when we all could be frolicking through the fields magic.
I would absolutely recommend this to writers, especially those who feel like this is a daunting experience they’ve signed up for. Gilbert does an excellent job of assuring creatives that whatever they produce, it has to matter the most to you. And if you’re lucky, you’ll share your work with the world, and someone will look and think, “Hey, this might just be for me.”
You can pick up Big Magic at your local bookstore or online on Amazon.