Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert is a self-help book that will help you in living a creative life. I read this book two months ago, and it’s my first book on creativity. You will find it helpful if you do anything related to creativity like writing, painting, singing, photography, dancing, filmmaking, etc. It will give you the courage to pursue your creative life and help you show the world what you create. This mainly contains many real incidents from the life of the author and others that will clear your doubts related to creative living. Okay, I am using the term creative living too many times, so let me first tell you what creative living is.
Gilbert says, “the universe buries strange jewels deep within us all and then stands back to see if we can find them. The hunt to uncover those jewels is creative living.”
In other words, it is using your creativity to create something which gives you fun, purpose, and/or money. And it’s an interesting way to live a life. To use your creativity and constantly create something that fills your life with colors.
But creative living is not that easy; it would only result in frustration and defeat if not done properly. This book would help you ensure that you are living in a proper way. And, in the following sections, I have shared the 3 key lessons from the book Big Magic–
Big Magic: 3 Key Lessons
1. Be comfortable with fear
Fear and creativity have some strange relations. Wherever creativity goes, fear follows. Suppose you want to be a writer and have written a story, but you are not publishing it just because you fear people will criticize you, laugh at your work, misunderstand you, and worse, people will not take your work seriously. You fear that your family and friends, who are important, may think wrong about you and ignore you. You fear your co-workers will laugh at your work and make fun of you for the rest of your life.
We are so obsessed with what others will think that we don’t try anything new and keep our work to ourselves. There is a famous quote by Ann Landers, “At age 20, we worry about what others think of us. At age 40, we don’t care what they think of us. At age 60, we discover they haven’t been thinking of us at all.”
So, when we get old, we realize nobody was thinking about us, and that’s the time we regret and think- if only we had some courage to put our work out to the world, things would have been different today.
And it’s not only about writing; it includes all work that needs creativity. Fear always follows creativity. It happens because creative work tends to be uncertain, and you know how much we humans fear uncertainty. Gilbert says that creative living shouldn’t be affected by fear but curiosity. You need to be curious enough to try new things and learn from them. Your curiosity should be greater than your fear.
British writer and speaker Alan Wilson Watts says, “By replacing fear of the unknown with curiosity we open ourselves up to an infinite stream of possibility. We can let fear rule our lives or we can become childlike with curiosity, pushing our boundaries, leaping out of our comfort zones, and accepting what life puts before us.”
And you can’t completely get rid of fear because it’s natural. So, the only thing you have to do is be comfortable with fear, understand that it’s okay to be afraid, then follow your curiosity, and bring your work out to the world.
2. It takes time
While living a creative life, people think they will quickly get results and be successful artists. Well, it’s not the thinking that creates the problem, but they firmly believe it. And when it doesn’t happen, and it doesn’t, they get broke and give up.
And it sometimes happens when you take your art very seriously. When you have written a book with all your effort and creativity, you tend to have many expectations from the book, but when publishers reject it, not only one publisher but many, you are bound to feel frustrated.
Gilbert says that frustration is common in creative living, and you must learn to handle your emotions. Also, not taking your art very seriously will help you be flexible and accept everything that happens.
And some of us think that passion means only loving the work. Well, passion is loving the work, but that’s not the complete definition. I am greatly inspired by Jürgen Moltmann, a German Reformed theologian, who said, “Passion is loving something enough to suffer for it.”
I liked a part where the book contained what Seamus Heaney said about how creative living works. It said that for an aspiring poet, writing poems is like dropping a bucket halfway down a well, which brings nothing but air, again and again. This makes them frustrated and hopeless. But when they continue to do it for years, the chain becomes unexpectedly long, and they have dipped into waters that will continue to entice them. So, the second lesson is, it takes time.
3. Outcome doesn’t matter
Gilbert says that there are many people who fail at living a creative life because they worry about the outcome. What if I publish my book and it doesn’t get sold? What if I sing a song and people don’t love it? What if I paint with all my effort, but I don’t be a great painter? What is the worth of all this hard work then?
Well, living a creative life should be independent of the outcome. Whether your book gets sold or not is not in your control, but writing it and putting it out to the world is entirely in your control. So, all you can do is trust your process and what you have created.
Your creation doesn’t have to be entirely original; you can get inspired by other’s works. Your creation doesn’t have to be important, as its arts, and certainly, it’s not going to save the world. And don’t take your creation very seriously; let it perform as it performs.
The thing here is that you have to love your work enough that failure and success don’t matter. Whether people like it or not, it doesn’t matter. The only thing that should matter is what you learned in the process of creating it, how the work transformed you, how much experience you got, and how much fun it was.
These were the 3 key lessons from the book Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I hope you found it valuable. If you want to live a creative life, you must read Big Magic because it can be your ultimate guide. I really loved the author’s writing style, her way of sharing the lessons through storytelling, which you would also enjoy. So, that’s all about it. You can subscribe to my YouTube channel, where I keep posting about fiction and non-fiction books. And thanks for reading.