I’ve just finished reading Big Magic, the latest book from Elizabeth Gilbert. She of course wrote the best seller Eat Pray Love that became a major film with Julia Roberts.
In Big Magic, Gilbert shares stories of her writing life and urges readers to live creatively beyond fear.
Although she had a mega hit with Eat Pray Love and no longer has to work as a waitress, she still enjoys her creative process and maintains the discipline she feels is necessary to live a larger creative life. Who knew she had written six other books besides Eat Pray Love?
For her, writing is her true calling. She can’t imagine a time when she hasn’t committed to it. In fact, at the age of 10, she took vows to commit to her writing and creativity.
For those of us who weren’t so driven in our youth, Gilbert puts forward the notion that ideas are swirling around in the ethers looking for someone to make them happen.
How many times have you had an idea and someone else has picked it up and run with it? How many times have you thought about things and allowed them to slip away – either you were too busy or distracted or, in some cases, too lazy?
I know I’ve had a million ideas that I let slip away. So here are a few takeaways from the book:
Commit to your idea
When you do have an idea or the glimmer of an idea, whatever it is, you need to commit to it and investigate the idea. Otherwise, the idea or the enthusiasm for the idea will leave you.
Gilbert gives this incredible example of how she had an idea for a novel about the Amazon but then became distracted by her husband’s immigration challenges. When she went back to the novel, the idea was gone. About a year later, she met up with another writer who had written almost the same novel.
Know your own mind
Know your own process of bringing an idea into the world so you can calm yourself as you go through each hurdle. I don’t’ know about you but I get very enthusiastic about an idea at the outset, research the heck out of it and then begin to have doubts about the viability of the idea or my ability to make it happen.
For Gilbert, staying with the process and getting through the emotional minefield ensured she developed trust in her creativity. In the book, she outlines the stages of how she talks herself through the times she wants to give up or has an anxiety attack.
Forget about passion and cultivate curiosity. Gilbert suggests that passion is overrated since its heat comes and goes. Being curious is the ticket for living a creative life. So ‘failure’ or ideas that didn’t work become objects of inquiry and examination rather than reasons to beat yourself up.
Forget about the outcome
Someone once told me to trust only movement. Gilbert shares that sentiment. Keep moving and stay busy with other creative impulses. If you feel you have a writing block, take a drawing class, move in a dance class or pick up a violin. Inspiration will always be drawn to motion.
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If you’ve hit a block in your creative process, I can help keep you accountable to your goals. Get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org.