Reading: “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert

on Books  

Sometimes being a creative person can be really hard, especially when the inspiration isn’t there, I’m struggling with perfectionism, or uninformed people don’t value my work. Some people insist that being an artist necessitates some level of suffering for that art, so I’m glad Elizabeth Gilbert presents a more positive outlook in her book on living a creative life, Big Magic.

She tackles all these issues that I’m sure everyone faces at some point (even if you don’t necessarily consider yourself a “creative person”), in a way which is somehow practical and a little whimsical at the same time. It’s quite moving to see deeply held fears, which you might think you’re alone in feeling, are shared with plenty of other people struggling with the same issues. You’ve probably heard most of Gilbert’s advice before in some form or other, but sometimes it bears repeating to battle the internalised ideal of the starving artist.

There were lots of great takeaways from Big Magic, but here’s a few of my favourites.

On trusting that it is the process, not the outcome, that truly matters:

Fierce trust demands that you put forth the work anyhow, because fierce trust knows that the outcome does not matter. The outcome cannot matter. Fierce trust asks you to stand strong within this truth: “You are worthy, dear one, regardless of the outcome. You will keep making your work, regardless of the outcome. You will keep sharing your work, regardless of the outcome. You were born to create, regardless of the outcome. You will never lose trust in the creative process, even when you don’t understand the outcome.”

On struggling with perfectionism, and how giving yourself permission to create imperfect work is far better than never creating at all:

Done is better than good

Perfectionism stops people from completing their work, yes—but even worse, it often stops people from beginning their work. Perfectionists often decide in advance that the end product is never going to be satisfactory, so they don’t even bother trying to be creative in the first place.

On confidence and struggling with impostor syndrome (I know this voice all to well):

I believe that this good kind of arrogance—this simple entitlement to exist, and therefore to express yourself—is the only weapon with which to combat the nasty dialogue that may automatically arise within your head whenever you get an artistic impulse. You know the nasty dialogue I mean, right? I’m talking about the nasty dialogue that goes like this: “Who the hell do you think you are, trying to be creative? You suck, you’re stupid, you have no talent, and you serve no purpose. Get back in your hole.”

And finally, something that I see many people struggle with:

You do not need anybody’s permission to live a creative life.

My heart always breaks when I hear someone say that they aren’t creative. Like Elizabeth Gilbert, I believe that everyone has the potential to be creative if they give themselves the chance! It’s a bit cheesy and a little hocus-pocus feeling in parts, but sometimes a pep talk with a dose of common sense is what you need. If you’re doubting yourself and your creativity, Big Magic might be the inspiration you need to get yourself out there.

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