I just finished reading Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love. For anyone who enjoys living a creative life, it is a must read. You don’t have to be an artist, writer, musician — think seeing the world anew — think being in touch with your own gifts whatever they may be.
The conversation she has with her own fear is hysterically funny. I want to tape it to the refrigerator so I can use it daily with my own fear. The chapter is called The Road Trip. I won’t give away her wonderfully descriptive trip with fear.
I also enjoyed the section on multiple discovery as I’ve experienced this so often in life. Who hasn’t? Have you ever dreamed up a great new idea or product only to find it on the third page of the newspaper the following day? Her point for authors is: don’t wait for an idea that has never been dreamed before – it doesn’t exist.
Is creativity work or magic? I quote from her chapter Enchantment. “Most of my writing life consists of nothing more than unglamorous, disciplined labor. I sit at my desk and I work like a farmer, and that’s how it gets done. Most of it is not fairy dust in the least. But –sometimes it is fairy dust; it’s rare but it’s the most magnificent sensation imaginable when it arrives. I’ll bet most of us have enjoyed that feeling, and it is like fairy dust being sprinkled on us.
Let it come and go, says Elizabeth. For that’s how creativity works and we need to let it happen. In the meantime, do something else as it will show it’s lovely head again soon.
Done is better than good. No reason to explain that any further than what it says. Just finish it. Just get the job done. Good will come later.
Passion vs. curiosity. Passion is wonderful. Everyone preaches ‘find your passion.’ Just write your passion. What works best, she says, is to be curious about life. Once you find something you’re interested in, something to research, something new to learn, stories begin to unfold.
That happened for me in the two books I spent years researching. As I read about the Tulsa race riots, a young woman cowered in her bedroom just appeared. All my characters simply appear. Not once have I decided .. I’m going to write a novel about a tall, thin woman who is a teacher and she falls in love with a man. No … they appear with their own personalities, their own features, their own names – from fairy dust, as Elizabeth Gilbert describes it.
I loved this book and I hope you’ll check it out. It’s lighthearted, an easy read, and it gives us permission to lead the most interesting, creative lives we can while we’re here.