When I first started reading Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. I felt let down. I had heard such great things about the book and it had been on my to-read list for a while. For the first couple of chapters I though Elizabeth had lost the plot as she talked about ideas existing in their own right and they are travelling around looking for a human because “ideas need humans to be realised”.
However, then about a third in I loved what I was reading. There were a few moments were I wanted to just stand up on the train and say “THANK YOU ELIZABETH”!
She explain how although she had committed to being a writer, she states “I never wanted to burden my writing with the responsibility of paying for my life”. She explained that this was because when you ask your creativity to provide for you financially you out pressure on your creativity. It wasn’t until Eat, Pray, Love that she gave up her side jobs. I loved this attitude. As she said it makes no sense for artists to drive “themselves broke and crazy because of this insistence that they are not legitimate creators unless they can exclusively live off their creativity”. You are a creator, because you create!
Another idea I really liked was following your curiosity. “See where curiosity will lead you next. Then follow the next clue, and the next, and the next.”. There is an elaborate example of her taking up gardening in, it ended up with her travelling around the world and writing a book. The point being she just responded to her curiosity. This is very much like how I became a book blogger. I knew I wanted to support ambitious women, which was why I created PropelHer. Reading has been life-changing for me so I created PropelHer’s Book Club, but I was reading more books that I could recommend through the book club (and not all are suitable) so I thought why not blog about them. If I had sat down and thought about what type of blogger I could have become, books would have been low-down. I didn’t even know another book blogger when I started this journey. As Elizabeth explains “following that scavenger hunt of curiosity can lead you to amazing unexpected places. It may even eventually leas you to your passion” and that is how I feel.
Elizabeth is very open in the book about her early struggles as a writer. Rejection, after rejection. She reminds the read that “these people – the ones who stand at the gates of our dreams – are not automatons. They are just PEOPLE.” This really struck me, because even though I knew it, it reinforced the idea that people, who fluctuate, have so much power over artists lives. This is why an artist needs to know he is an artist, without the validation of gatekeepers.
As Elizabeth explains “The guardians of high culture will try to convince you that the arts belong only to the chosen few”. That is their way of protecting the future of the art form. However, you don’t have to be accepted into the high culture group to be an artist or to live a creative life.
“You do not need anybody’s permission to live a creative life”.
Naturally humans are creative. We were born to create, to make, to do! By acting on that desire you are living a creative life.
Overall, by the end of the book I understood why there are lots of positive reviews of Big Magic. Elizabeth has written a book that explores creativity in a way I hadn’t read before. I think every ‘tormented artist’ should be forced to read it. However, it is also a great book for all. I believe, like Elizabeth, that living creatively is the best way to live. I am a creative individual and as much as possible I love to embrace that side of my life. I think if more people did they would live a happier life.
“Creativity is a path for the brave”.
Are you ready to be brave and embrace your creative side?
LIKE WHAT YOU READ? Why not buy a copy of Big Magic for yourself?
LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW – I would love to hear about your experiences as a creative.