Writer Elizabeth Gilbert has become an expert on the awesome art of channeling the muse of creativity. In her latest book, Big Magic: Creative Living Through Fear, she invites us to walk through our own fears and do the same.
"So when can you start pursuing your most creative and passionate life?" Gilbert asks in Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. "You can start whenever you decide to start."
Big Magic is a font of inspirational wisdom, and is well worth a cover-to-cover read. Here are some of the book's key highlights below.
"We are all makers by design."
"Even if you grew up watching cartoons in a sugar stupor from dawn to dusk, creativity still lurks within you. Your creativity is way older than you are, way older than any of us. Your very body and your very being are perfectly designed to live in collaboration with inspiration, and inspiration is still trying to find you — the same way it hunted down your ancestors."
Don't quit your day job.
It was only after Eat, Pray, Love became a worldwide sensation that Gilbert allowed herself to quit her day jobs and become a full-time writer of books. Even though she had already published a number of books. But she also wrote for magazines, waited tables, bartended, and worked as a cook at a ranch in Wyoming, among other things. She never depended on her creative work to foot the bill, giving her the creative freedom to write and create as she wished.
Forget perfect; focus on good.
As the writer Rebecca Solnit puts it, "So many of us believe in perfection, which ruins everything else, because the perfect is not only the enemy of the good, it's also the enemy of the realistic, the possible, and the fun."
Be open to ideas that come your way.
According to Gilbert, ideas don't exist within us. Instead, they come to us when we're ready to receive them. "Ideas," Gilbert writes, "are a disembodied energetic life form...driven by a single impulse: to be made manifest. And the only way an idea can be made manifest in our world is through collaboration with a human partner. And it is only through a human's efforts that an idea can be escorted out of the ether and into the realm of the actual."
Exercise your creativity.
Just like your body needs remain healthy and in shape, so does your mind. And more specifically, your creativity. As Gilbert says, "Create, so as not to destroy. Possessing a creative mind, after all, is a bit like having a border collie for a pet: it needs work, or else it will cause you an outrageous amount of trouble. Give your mind a job to do, or else it will cause you an outrageous amount of trouble. Give your mind a job to do, or else it will find a job to do, and you might not like the job it invents."
"Dress for the novel you want to write."
Or to put it as broadly as possible, dress for the thing you wish to create. If you're feeling creatively blocked, stifled, or stymied, give your creativity something exciting to look forward to. Chances are, more often than not, it will show up.
Embrace the valleys as well as the peaks.
Decide whether you can live with the frustrations that go hand-in-hand with the act of creating."You don't just get to leap from bright moment to bright moment. How you manage yourself between those bright moments, when things aren't going so great, is a measure of how devoted you are to your vocation, and how equipped you are for the wierd demands of creative living."
Develop "the arrogance of belonging."
Meaning, give yourself license to create, and use that license to push yourself as far as your creativity allows. "The arrogance of belonging is not about egotism or self-absorption," Gilbert writes. "In a strange way, it's the opposite; it is a driving force that will actually take you out of yourself and allow you to engage more fully with life."
Discover More About Big Magic
Elizabeth Gilbert, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love, published Big Magic to share her insights and wisdom into helping individuals harness the power of their creativity. Find out more about Gilbert's books and writings on her website, watch her TED Talks, and check out her latest talk on Oprah's Super Soul Sunday.