Big Magic: Creative Living Behind Fear (2015) by Elizabeth Gilbert is an attempt to explain a philosophy through which an individual can act well on his or her creative impulses. Gilbert’s philosophy is shown through pop culture allusions and life aphorisms, and the book recounts how knowing it has helped her thrive in her artistic endeavors.
The book is about how creative people can succeed in a world that dismisses their abilities. Elizabeth Gilbert emphasizes the importance of not trying to fit our creative energy into the box that society expects us to fit into. We should avoid combining creative delights with labor. Furthermore, we should not seek academic credentials to validate our inventiveness. Without fear or expectations, we should use our imagination. We should not be martyrs for our creativity, and if it spares us suffering, we should collaborate. Big Magic is about appreciating creativity in a society when it is routinely dismissed.
About the Author
“A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life. Living in this manner—continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you—is a fine art, in and of itself.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
Elizabeth Gilbert is a novelist and journalist from the United States. Eat, pray, love is her most well-known work. This book was adapted into a feature-length film after selling millions of copies. Elizabeth studied political science at NYU and went on to work as a journalist for publications like SPIN Magazine, GQ Magazine, and The New York Times.
Don’t Let Fear Stop You From Living Creatively
From an early age, we are taught that a good education and meaningful employment are essential for a happy life. Millions of creative people, on the other hand, are left wondering where they may find true happiness. As a result, many creative people end up in dead-end jobs where they don’t have to employ their imagination.
Pursuing your creative potential will be challenging due to how society socializes us. This, however, does not have to be the case, according to Elizabeth Gilbert. You don’t have to be a world-famous artist to find fulfillment in your artistic pursuits. Instead of fear, you must learn to live in a condition of curiosity.
The author describes creativity as any activity that piques your curiosity. As a result, any activity that makes you feel bold or fearless may be considered as creativity. This can range from painting to archery.
Fear is the emotion that prevents you from achieving your creative objectives. Accepting your fears is the most effective method to overcome them. Many authors recommend that we simply let go of our fears. Elizabeth refutes this viewpoint, arguing that we should become at ease with our fears, which are very natural. They should not prevent us from participating in activities that allow us to express ourselves creatively. They should instead coexist with your activities. When you participate in creative activities, you will gradually stop recognizing your fears.
Keep an eye out for new ideas
New ideas always emerge in our world. They will only come to fruition if someone is ready to take a chance and run with them. Elizabeth shows how to tell when a concept is ready to be understood. She recounts the feeling of having an idea that won’t go away. This thought will pop into your head at various times throughout the day and will bother you even when you are alone. If that’s the case, you’ve got a good concept. Accept it now, and don’t allow anything else to get in the way.
If you refuse to embrace this concept, it will be realized by someone else. According to the author, Ideas, like persons, animals, and plants, are mystical things that are part of the world. As an example, she cited a time when she was pondering whether or not to create a novel set in the Amazon jungle.
However, she did not pursue this notion and moved on to other projects. Elizabeth became friends with novelist Ann Patchett soon after. Ann had lately begun writing a novel set in the Amazon with a plot that was quite similar. Both she and Ann agreed that this concept was ready for someone to grasp; Elizabeth had ignored it, so it flew away to be realized by someone else.
Give Yourself Permission to Be Creative
We find it difficult to be creative on a regular basis. We place the blame on the environment or the current conditions. We all have the ability to be creative, and there are sources of inspiration all around us. The problem is with ourselves, not with the surroundings. We are our own largest obstacle. It’s sometimes simpler to make fun of our creativity and tell ourselves that our ideas aren’t original or extraordinary.
We must allow ourselves to be innovative in order to overcome these challenges. Our inner voices are preventing us from granting permissions. As a result, say things out loud like “I am a writer” or “I am creative.” Declaring your creative potential will assist you in accepting that you are free to pursue any creative passion you have. Failures will no longer prohibit you from working creatively if you can embrace this mentality.
One of the most major barriers to creativity is rejection. We must, however, learn to not take rejection personally. It’s a part of life, and it’s unavoidable. The author gives an example of how creative activity is more beneficial to you than to others. Others’ unwillingness to understand your creative talent is most likely the reason for their rejection of your creative products. Elizabeth explained how she had submitted a piece to Story Magazine before having a published piece of work to her credit. This story was quickly dismissed by the editor-in-chief. Elizabeth sent the identical story to the same editor-in-chief years later, after a few blockbusters under her belt. The editor believed the work was excellent this time. Nothing had changed in terms of creativity; the only difference was in the editor’s perceptions. As a result, we must not take creative rejections personally. Instead, use creativity as a form of catharsis for yourself. It’s fantastic if your creative effort connects with others. This should not, however, be the primary purpose of your creative endeavors.
Finally, don’t be concerned about generating one-of-a-kind and innovative work. Every story will be inspired by previous works of fiction. Rather, you want your creative output to be true to your interests.
Don’t Worry About Being ‘Taken Seriously’
As per the author, you don’t need a degree to accomplish what you love. Learning academic theory is significantly less crucial than gaining real-world life experience in order to improve your creative abilities.
Life lessons can’t be learned in a classroom. Elizabeth uses her first marriage as an example to illustrate her point. Despite the fact that she was going through a difficult period in her life, it motivated her to create her first best-selling book. This is an excellent example of how life experience, rather than academic degrees, is a superior source of creative inspiration.
Maintaining your playful side is an important element of being creatively successful. Getting a degree in a field connected to your artistic endeavors can only add to the seriousness of your creative ambitions. This isn’t what you’re looking for. Our creative ideas should be humorous, personal, and emotive. There is no book that can teach you how to use emotion in your work.
Your Creativity Should Not Pay Your Rent
Creativity is sometimes viewed as a pastime for those who do not have a steady career. Though, problems often occur when creative people try to use their creative energy to pay their expenses. Elizabeth advises against making your artistic venture your full-time job. This will suffocate your imagination. Instead, use your day job to provide a solid foundation for your creative pursuits.
J.K. Rowling, for example, began her writing career while working a day job, according to Elizabeth. She would work during the day and then devote a few hours each day to her passion for writing. It became a daily practice for her to do this at this time to keep her energy levels up. As a result, rather than using our creative energy to generate money, which will deplete our energy, we should utilize this time to boost our spirits for the rest of the day. It can be our source of inspiration during the day and our source of delight at night.
You should be able to relax while working on your creative projects. Relieve the financial strain on your hobbies by providing financial security through backup solutions.
You Have a Genius; You Are Not a Genius
Gilbert links the origins of the concept of creativity to the ancient Greeks and Romans when it was viewed as a force outside of the artist. It’s the difference between being a genius and having a genius. As a result, neither our creative failures nor our creative accomplishments are solely our responsibility.