What is Big Magic & Why You Should Read It Right Now

  • July 10, 2018
On Creativity Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic

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.” 

Elizabeth Gilbert

Big Magic. What is it? Well–you’ll have to read the book to really find out, but I’ll give you a hint. It’s similar to that sensation that happens when an idea reveals itself to you out of nowhere and without warning. It’s that weird moment during the creating process, after weeks of staring at a blank screen, and all of a sudden it’s 3am and you have fifteen pages of content written–sloppily maybe, but it’s written. 

Big Magic happens when you least expect it. Or when it’s invited in. Or when you’ve been waiting for it for quite some time. Elizabeth Gilbert breaks down her own experience with Big Magic and encourages us to live lives full of curiosity, grace and intention. A few themes popped out for me when reading through her work, and I thought I’d jot down some quotes and my take on them for you to glean inspiration from or just to read and maybe never look at again. Whatever you do with this is none of my business.

In Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert breaks down her own creative experience and encourages us to live lives full of curiosity, grace and intention. Click To Tweet

So, enjoy!


Originally Yours

“Anyhow, the older I get, the less impressed I become with originality. These days, I’m far more moved by authenticity. Attempts at originality can often feel forced and precious, but authenticity has quiet resonance that never fails to stir me.” 

“It might have been done before, but it hasn’t been done by you!” 

Elizabeth Gilbert

This made me want to leap out of my chair and go create! How freeing it is to know that it’s okay if you’re art isn’t 100% unique to the world and different than everyone else’s. You can be inspired by art and go out there and try your hand at it too.

Friendly Disclaimer:

Just because you admire someone else’s art, doesn’t mean you can in any way copy or steal their work. A true artist sees another’s brilliance and gains inspiration from it to make their own, original work. Copying another’s work word for word or piece by piece is NOT okay. And it doesn’t hurt to shout-out an artist whose work inspired your own. Give credit where credit is due and remember you’re capable of creating something beautiful too.

It’s most likely already been done before, yes. But not by YOU. Put your hands to the task and make it your own. Never mind that they’ve already done it.

It’s most likely already been done before, yes. But not by YOU. Put your hands to the task and make it your own. Click To Tweet

You haven’t. What a refreshing reminder. 

On Creativity Big Magic It hasn't been done by you


Fearing Failure

What do you love doing so much that the words failure and success essentially become irrelevant?” 

Elizabeth Gilbert

When I’m creating, and really in the zone, it doesn’t matter to me whether what I have to offer the world, sinks or swims. I’m just happy to be making it at all. Inspiration sometimes slips my grasp so quickly, it’s a miracle I ever finish projects at all. I asked myself, if no one ever reads my work, or buys my product, or sees my creations—will I still want to do it? And the only way that this whole creative living thing is going to work, is if I give myself permission to tell myself ‘yes’.


“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. 

Elizabeth Gilbert


The Myth of Perfection

“She said: “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.” 

Elizabeth Gilbert

Speaking as a twenty-something, this gives me so much hope. Hope that someday I really will stop seeking perfection–I’ve struggled with this idea of ‘perfect’ for a while–and realize that no one cares. Not in a I-don’t-matter-at-all sort of way, just in a liberating way that reminds me that I don’t have to be perfect to create.

Sometimes I think to myself, I should really take the advice of those who are more seasoned in life than I am. Because they’re not just talking to talk—most of the time. In fact, quite often, they have invaluable knowledge and experience about life, that I will hopefully one day come into myself. But until then, doesn’t it make sense to listen and take their advice to heart? I think so.

And I think it might save me the trouble of learning it all later. 


The Gift of Creativity

“If you’re alive, you’re a creative person.” 

Elizabeth Gilbert

On Creativity Reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

 

This reminded me of an instance while I was sitting in my Individuals, Families and Groups class one early Monday morning. Our professor was talking about creativity and asked us if we felt that we could be creative in our own work. And one of my classmates answered lightheartedly, “But what if you’re not creative?” 

We all cracked up at her frankness and murmured amongst ourselves. Our professor chuckled, then paused. After a moment of contemplation, they simply responded, “Everyone is creative.”

I firmly agree with this statement. I really do believe everyone is creative. We were, after all, created by the ultimate Creative. And if we’re made in His image—we must be creative too. Now, not everyone is a gifted lyricist, or painter, or mathematician—true. But, I think we often pair creativity with obvious pastimes, jobs and careers. Creativity is as simple as figuring out what shoes to wear in order to best compliment your outfit. Or holding the door handle to your car together using everyday objects found in your junk drawer. Yes, I’ve actually met someone who has done this—how creative of them!

Truth is, there’s creativity in you, and—even if you can’t get that Pinterest craft to look like the picture—there’s more than one way to use it. 

If you are alive, you are a creative person. - Elizabeth Gilbert #BigMagic Click To Tweet

Reading this book has truly changed the way I view my creativity and creative interests.

At the end of it, I realized just how unimportant my creative work is, and how that is completely, 100% okay. I learned that I don’t keep a blog or make earrings or doodle lazily because I hope to make an actual living off of it–but because I love doing it. And that reason alone is enough. I also recognized that I need to be persistent with my creative work to see growth in my process and honor my own creative self. 

If you’re in a creative rut, or the thought of creating anything at all gives you hives, I recommend reading this book. Gilbert’s ease in speaking the reader down from a creative breakdown is evident even from the very first page and I know it will change the way you look at yourself as a creative, maker or just your average everyday person.

Most importantly, no matter what I hope you will begin to start

“living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.” 

Elizabeth Gilbert

On Creativity Reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert


Have you read Big Magic yet?

First off, what are you waiting for?

Secondly, how did you love it? 

2 Comments
  • Tracina

    I genuinely loved this and enjoyed every second! Like you, when I read that first quote I was ready to jump up and shout lol. This is definitely a must read for me. I was just mentioning to my husband that this is how I know I love the craft of writing/blogging- because I’m not doing it to make a profit but simply for the love of the art!
    Great post 👏🏾

    • Leighann

      Leighann

      Thank you so much, Tracina–I am so glad you’ve read it and agree that it’s an amazing read! She really changed how I see my creative endeavors and reminded me to always go back to my ‘why’.

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