I’m the first to admit that I’m a huge Elizabeth Gilbert fan. I watched her TED Talk a few years ago, and she seemed rather genuine and funny. I like her for all of the same reasons hundreds of thousands of other women like her: she’s a straight shooter, and has some really great insights on creativity and life.
A few months ago she launched a podcast, Magic Lessons, ahead of her book launch. If I wasn’t a fan already, the podcast would have converted me. If you haven’t listened, download them now and start from the very beginning. They’re all gems! In each episode she speaks with a listener who has a creative dilemma, and gives them her advice. The next episode will feature the same question, but she turns to her friends and other experts and has them weigh in. This includes Cheryl Strayed, Brene Brown, and others.
Last week Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear was released, and today I’m sharing my thoughts on what she got oh so right. Because the truth is, she nailed it with this book! My hope was that it would be different from her podcasts and Facebook posts–more serious. Different ideas and concepts; she delivered.
Today I’m sharing my top five takeaways from Big Magic.
Warning *SPOILERS AHEAD!* (They’re not too bad though, but still, spoilers.)
1. We are all creative people
We kind of already know this, right? But still, there are so many individuals out there who don’t consider themselves creative people. Often these people express their creativity in a way that’s less obvious, but it’s still creative work. Gilbert also gets the point across that we can do something we love, without it having to amount to something more. It doesn’t always have to be for an end goal. (More on that in her podcast with Brene Brown too!)
2. Ideas are living things
This concept blew my mind. Gilbert describes ideas as being something that’s out there, floating around. They come to us in moments of inspiration, but may have lived with someone else before us, and will eventually leave us too if we don’t act on them. (And that’s okay if it happens.) She has an incredible story about the passing of an idea that will make your jaw drop.
3. Creative work is unpredictable
I’m roughly quoting here, but at one point she says that in all aspects of life and work, if you work hard enough, you will eventually succeed. This is true–except for creative work.
Creativity works within its own set of rules and guidelines. It’s a difficult truth to accept, but it really makes you focus on the process rather than the result.
4. We are too precious with our art
There is a distinct line between nurturing your work, and being too attached to it. Your work is not your baby, Gilbert says. She tells a story about an opportunity that she had to be published, and the sacrifice she had to make in order to make it happen, and it’s eye opening. Had she made the decision to baby her art, she wouldn’t be where she is today.
5. The “shit sandwiches” won’t bother you
I loved this chapter so much because I feel like we’re so disconnected from the discouraging, or more difficult aspects of chasing our dreams. Shit sandwiches from a writer’s perspective? Rejection letters, terrible reviews from readers. It’s not ideal, Gilbert says, but they are a small price to pay for being able to do the work you love.
I could go on and on, (special shout out to not quitting your day job!), but these are way up there for takeaways.
Have you read Big Magic? Be sure to join the Women Writers’ Collective discussion in October for a chat about it.