Book Review: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

For the longest time I never pictured myself as a creative person. I thought creativity was for artists, craftsmen, fashion designers, poets, photographers, you know, all the things that I wasn’t. Creativity has truly shown me through the years that I am indeed a creative person, we all are. Even after going to college, working in the real world, did I fall in love with writing; but writing as a blogger to be more specific.

I did write poetry when I was a teenager, but I would get a little frustrated with myself because I couldn’t make my poetry rhyme. Funny how in order to write poetry, it doesn’t have to rhyme. It just has to have a nice flow and meaning to it.

So to my amazement, blogging came to me as a love that I never knew I could have. After reading Big Magic, I realized a few things that I’m sure a lot of you can relate, whether or not you’re a fellow blogger.

book review big magic

Elizabeth Gilbert is a gifted woman with her writing. Her style is so easy to comprehend and she just keeps you engaged all the way through. I mean, I finished reading this book and I haven’t done that in so long! so I think it goes without saying that her book is damn good.

She talks about creativity in many ways and to get her point across she breaks it down into these categories: Courage, Enchantment, Permission, Persistence, Trust and Divinity.

Courage is not so much being fearless, but being brave to allow creativity to take you to places you didn’t know you could go and while still acknowledging that fear will pop in every now and then, creativity cannot thrive if fear overtakes it. So you just have to be brave in the creative process, go to uncharted territory and make room for fear because it’s a part of us.  Just don’t let it keep you from living an interesting life.

Enchantment is a really long chapter, but I loved it because she gave such incredible examples of how inspiration (ideas) are like an entity that are flowing in the atmosphere looking for people who are open and ready to bring the ideas to life. If you take too long or don’t pay it any attention, then guess what? That idea will move on to someone else.

This whole enchantment business is so incredible and it opened up my mind to seeing ideas as a whole ‘nother thing than I ever envisioned. The one story that stuck out to me was her idea for a book and how life happened and she wasn’t able to bring that idea to life. But when you read it, you will be amazed how that idea came to life anyway and I don’t want to spoil it so you just have to read it.

Towards the end of Enchantment, Elizabeth wants us to be grateful that ideas came and went and not to be upset if you didn’t give birth to an idea, while someone else did. Because next thing you know, inspiration will strike and another idea might come along.

Permission is pretty straight to the point and I loved it. You don’t need anyone’s permission to be creative. What’s more is that our society has this rule that unless you get the approval of others that you’re talented enough to pursue a passion, then so be it. But the reality is is that regardless of the outcome, why not be creative? Give yourself permission to be creative. Who cares if it will be a hit, what matters is that you partake in inspiration.

When I think about the blogging world, a lot of bloggers may think they need a viral post or their blogs to blow up for it to be worth it. Regardless of what happens with our blogs, honestly who cares? What matters is that you enjoy blogging and you give yourself permission to be creative. If one person reads my blog, who cares? That person will most likely be me, so who cares? Really?

Persistence is pretty solid in how you should not be disappointed having a career in the arts if things don’t pan out. I like how she compared persistence to having an affair. Say, if you were married and start having an affair, your lover will make time for you to be sure they see you even if it’s for 20 minutes. In the same way, we need to make time for our creativity, even if it’s for 20 minutes.

I remember 2 years ago when I would blog in the evenings and make time for my blog and now I’m just lazy and haven’t made it as much of a priority. I think a lot of bloggers lately have been feeling the same though because our lives change sometimes. Some bloggers are getting married and planning a wedding, some are starting a family, some are going through a divorce, some are just like me who are still single and working on ourselves. Whatever the case may be, if blogging is still something that we each want to keep devoting our time to, we need to make time for it here and there.

Trust is a game changer. I am blown away with Elizabeth’s perspective on how art is not pain, but beauty. She dives into the whole general idea about the Tormented Artist, that in order to be worthy of making something creative, you have to have suffered in order to be worthy. That notion is completely wrong and it’s no wonder that many artists, musicians, writers have a high suicide rate. They think their art does not love them as much as they love it and the truth is is that creativity loves us right back.

So for me, I now see that my creativity is writing, which actually loves me right back. This is where it makes sense when she says that creativity is a relationship between a human being and the mysteries of inspiration. Because if it wasn’t a relationship, it would be one sided. Since it is not one sided since it loves you back, then it’s a relationship or should I say creationship.

Divinity is pretty surreal with her backstory about Balinese dancers. Their culture has these dances that are sacred and are done in their worship places and somehow tourism became more popular and the people wanted to bring the Balinese dances to the resorts. The Westerners were not okay with that and somehow felt that the act of doing the dances would take away from worship and turn around and do it for profit by performing at the resorts. So they came up with a solution to change the dances from sacred to a different type of dance that’s not sacred (or as they would call it “fake” dances) and so eventually everyone was content.

What I took away from this chapter is that regardless of what people’s opinions are, just create your art.

If you find yourself needing a fresh perspective or seeing someone’s take on creativity or you’re curious to see where you stand with your creativity, then I highly recommend this book. Inspiration can only come to you if you’re open to it and act fast. If you don’t, then you’re not living a colorful life as you could be. Finding the hidden treasures within is definitely worth the quest because I was born to create. We all are.

As a bonus, I leave you with this Ted Talk where Elizabeth Gilbert talks about the creative process and how our creativity is born as a result of us “having” a genius and not considering ourselves to be a genius. Too much pressure that way right?