Big Magic is a cheerfully optimistic invitation to dare to live a creative life chasing dreams from the woman who introduced the Bestseller “Eat, Pray, Love”. She dives into the nitty gritty of what creativity is, how it happens and how important is to living a fulfilling life. She inspires and educates her readers to dream big, ten she gives them the the attitudes and habits needed to choose to go for what we want in life, instead of choosing fear. Authors, writers, painters, or aspiring business owners or travellers will feel inspired to take first steps by Elizabeth Gilbert’s empowering words.
My key Takeaways from Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
Takeaway #1 Don't Let Fear Stop Your Creativity
Are you living up to your full creative potential or have you let fear take over? More than likely your education and career stemmed your curiosity and creative flow or your disappointment at creating artwork that you didn't deem good enough put a stop to your creative playtime. You don't have to take creativity seriously, creativity doesn't mean you have to become an artist or a designer, it doesn't need to take over from your day job, you don't need to be good at it, you don't need to have exhibitions, you don't need to earn money from it, you just need to enjoy it! Being creative means doing something that you enjoy, that makes you feel bold or brave and brings you excitement and can range from arts and crafts to baking, writing, even rock climbing. It's never too late to try something new, something that sparks your curiosity, just be sure not to let fear hold you back from trying it and continuing, your fears should coexist with your creativity.
Takeaway #2 Grab Ideas and Run With Them
Ideas are magical and if you don't grab them when they come along, someone else will. Don't dismiss that idea you had because you're too busy or because it's too different, allow it to take shape and grab it, before someone else runs with it and you end up regretting that you didn't try! Maybe you have the opposite problem, so many ideas but you're never able to follow through and complete any of them despite several attempts. In this instance you need to get out of your own way, don't let your inner voice whisper that you're not good enough or that this is a waste of time, go with it anyway and see what happens – If you get rejected, don't take it personally, your creativity should fulfill you first and others second.
Takeaway #3 Don't Try To Be Original – Just Be You
The thought of creating something original is enough to halt all of us in our creative tracks so don't even try, just be you – Share your magic, your story, your power, your creativity and know that being you is enough. When you have a great new idea, don't Google it to see if anyone else is doing it because you'll be crestfallen to find they are, just run with the idea anyway and make it your own, be unoriginal but heartfelt and never get caught up trying to be perfect as perfectionism is poisonous to creativity.
Don’t Take Creativity Seriously.
Creatives often struggle with the need to be taken seriously, many getting academic qualifications for this reason. But you don’t need a degree to do what you love, you just need life experience. For example, Elizabeth Gilbert used her life experience to write her bestselling novel Eat, Pray, Love - Her story of finding joy after divorce found through her life experiences rather than a classroom.
So get out in the world, and rather than trying to prove yourself as a serious professional artist, be playful. Whether you’re creating art that’s amusing, angry, intimate, comforting or downright strange, know that it’s absolutely fine for some people to hate what you do as others will love it.
Put simply, you don't have to take creativity seriously, creativity doesn't mean you have to become an artist or a designer, it doesn't need to take over from your day job, you don't need to be good at it, you don't need to have exhibitions, you don't need to earn money from it, you just need to enjoy it! Being creative means doing something that you enjoy, that makes you feel bold or brave and brings you excitement and can range from arts and crafts to baking, writing, even rock climbing. It's never too late to try something new, something that sparks your curiosity, just be sure not to let fear hold you back from trying it and continuing, your fears should coexist with your creativity.
Key Points from Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
- Instead of “following your passions”, follow your curiosity. Living creatively is all about saying yes to your curiosity.
- Don’t force Big Magic. Inspiration comes and goes. However, you just can’t sit around and wait for inspiration to hit. You must keep steadily producing in order to convince your genius you’re worth its time.
- As human beings, we are meant to create.
- If something makes you feel brave and bold, gives you butterflies in your tummy, and excites your curiosity, then you know you’re on the right creative path for you.
- Stand up to your inner voice to get out of your creative rut. Get comfortable with your fears and let them join you on the road to creativity. They can be your ally, they can serve as a reminder for the things you care about.
- Inspiration can be seen as a force that goes looking for the right creator to help bring an idea to life. You want to grab that inspiration before it’s too late. If you don’t, the creative idea will eventually float on to another person who is willing to make it a reality.
- Embrace the unknown. A creative life is always going to be an uncertain life
- Let go of attachment to financial results. Forcing your art to pay for the bills will kill creativity. Instead, create for yourself. “Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.”
- Take ongoing action to open the creative channel. Inspiration will always be drawn to motion.
- You don’t need permission. No one is going to give you permission but yourself. You must believe that you are entitled to create, no matter the number of rejections or obstacles you face.
- You're not required to save the world with your creativity. Your creative goal doesn’t have to be originality, authenticity works just as well.
- Don't take creativity seriously. Creativity doesn't mean you have to become an artist or a designer, you also don't need to earn money from it, you just need to enjoy it. So rather than trying to prove yourself as a serious professional artist, be playful.
- You will fail, therefore, measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures…
- Quit your complaining. Complaining gets you nowhere. Just do the work.
- Procrastination and perfection are just fear in disguise. “Perfection is fear dressed up in a mink coat and heels.“
- Be a trickster, not a martyr. Too often creators fall into the trap of thinking they must suffer for their art.
- You must be willing to take risks if you want to live a creative existence. But if you’re going to gamble, know that you’re gambling.
- It’s never too late to start creating. “if you're alive, you're a creative person.”
- The Central Paradox: Art is absolutely meaningless, but also deeply meaningful and sacred. “Only when we’re at our most playful can divinity finally get serious with us”
- Handling frustration is fundamental for the creative process. “Frustration is not an interruption of the process, frustration is the process”
Big Magic Chapters
Chapter One - Courage
Chapter Two - Enchantment
Chapter Three - Permission
Chapter Four - Persistence
Chapter Five - Trust
Chapter Six - Divinity
Best Quotes from Big Magic
"The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them... So this, I believe, is the central question upon which all creative living hinges: Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?"
"You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures... What do you love doing so much that the words failure and success essentially become irrelevant?"
"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."
"It’s a simple and generous rule of life that whatever you practice, you will improve at."
"You're not required to save the world with your creativity. Your art not only doesn't have to be original, in other words, it also doesn't have to be important. For example, whenever anyone tells me that they want to write a book in order to help other people I always think 'Oh, please don't. Please don't try to help me.' I mean it's very kind of you to help people, but please don't make it your sole creative motive because we will feel the weight of your heavy intention, and it will put a strain upon our souls... "
"to yell at your creativity, saying, “You must earn money for me!” is sort of like yelling at a cat; it has no idea what you’re talking about, and all you’re doing is scaring it away, because you’re making really loud noises and your face looks weird when you do that."
"We all spend our twenties and thirties trying so hard to be perfect, because we’re so worried about what people will think of us. Then we get into our forties and fifties, and we finally start to be free, because we decide that we don’t give a damn what anyone thinks of us. But you won’t be completely free until you reach your sixties and seventies, when you finally realize this liberating truth—nobody was ever thinking about you, anyhow."
"perfectionism is just fear in fancy shoes and a mink coat"
"Creativity is sacred, and it is not sacred. What we make matters enormously, and it doesn’t matter at all. We toil alone, and we are accompanied by spirits. We are terrified, and we are brave. Art is a crushing chore and a wonderful privilege. Only when we are at our most playful can divinity finally get serious with us. Make space for all these paradoxes to be equally true inside your soul, and I promise—you can make anything. So please calm down now and get back to work, okay? The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say yes."
"Own your disappointment, acknowledge it for what it is, and move on."
"If you’re alive, you’re a creative person."
"You can clear out whatever obstacles are preventing you from living your most creative life, with the simple understanding that whatever is bad for you is probably also bad for your work."
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
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Editor and Founder
Tal Gur is a location independent entrepreneur, author, and impact investor. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His most recent book and bestseller, The Art of Fully Living - 1 Man, 10 Years, 100 Life Goals Around the World, has set the stage for his new mission: elevating the next generation of leaders to their true potential.