It’s been a bit since our last book review, but this one is worth the wait. Today’s Creative Reading: “Big Magic” is by Elizabeth Gilbert and it just came out end of September. That’s right, the same Elizabeth Gilbert that wrote “Eat Pray Love.” If you’re a fan, you’re going to love this book!
Sharleen and I both ordered a copy and have been reading and sharing our thoughts about it. Today we’re both going to share our reviews. It’s a two sister post kind of day!Some links in this post are “affiliate links” which means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. We only recommend products or services we personally use and love. Click here for more information.
Creativity is a topic near and dear to me. I’ve developed my own theories, but I always welcome hearing new perspectives! In “Big Magic,” Elizabeth Gilbert certainly has some fresh ideas on the topic. The first being the “big magic” part. I’ve never thought of creativity as magic. I think creative ideas are within us and come out when the mind is able to play. Ideas like a relaxed, stress-free playground though, something most of us don’t get often! Gilbert’s perspective is very different. She believes ideas are a “disembodied, energetic life-form.” They are separate from us and have their own will. I think Gilbert’s perspective of creativity being magical is far more fun than mine, however I prefer to think creativity is within me waiting to be released. So you might say, if you’re not buying into the “big magic” thing, then why do you think Gilbert’s book is so great? Fair enough. Lemme splain… Gilbert leads off talking about fear, how she was afraid of everything as a child and still is to this day. She figured out how to deal with it though and doesn’t let fear stop her. I get that. Life is scary. You know what else is scary, creativity is scary. If a creative life is what you want, then you need to have theories that work for you. Wrap your brain around whatever it is that makes creativity not scary! If it’s magic, then go for it. (listen to this “Good Life Project” podcast for a great interview with Gilbert about creativity and fear)
Gilbert’s opinions throughout the rest of the book are very down-to-earth and realistic. I especially like her take on advanced degrees. Having a Masters you might think I’d disagree, but I don’t. Be careful about the amount of debt you take on and make sure it will be worth it. There are plenty of alternative ways to gain knowledge out there.
“Keep your day job” may be her best advice. You need to be able to carry your own weight financially in this world and not be a burden or a bother to anyone else. It probably is unrealistic to think that your creative passions alone will be able to support you. The odds are not in your favor. That’s not a bad thing, that’s being realistic! Living a creative life doesn’t mean it has to support you. If you’re doing it authentically, for yourself, that’s all you should need… but pay your bills. Remember my theory, ideas like a relaxed and stress-free playground. If you’re worried about cash it will be hard to get into a mindset where you can be creative!
I think it goes without saying that creativity is something Denise and I both have a passion for, after all we are the authors of a creative lifestyle blog! Our entire lives have been filled with creative endeavors. As children we would sew our own Barbie doll clothes from my mother’s fabric scraps, make Christmas gifts from items in the recycling bin and much to my mother’s dismay, decorated our bedroom walls with Sharpie markers (sorry Mom) As adults we continue our creative pursuits through our choice of careers, myself as a floral designer and Denise as a graphic designer. When I was young, living a creative life wasn’t a choice I consciously made, it was the only thing I knew so I did it instinctively. As I’ve matured however, living a creative life has not only become my choice but it has also become something I feel compelled to do. I love Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book “Big Magic”, she has put into words for me exactly how I feel about creativity and creative living. Something I’ve never been able to do very well. When Gilbert wrote, “All I know for certain is that this is how I want to spend my life — collaborating to the best of my ability with forces of inspiration that I can neither see, nor prove, nor command, nor understand…I can not think of a better way to pass my days.” I wanted to scream, “Yes! That’s exactly how I feel!” I want everyone I know to read this book. I want my husband to read this book so he will better understand why I feel compelled to pursue a creative life despite as Gilbert says, “There is no job security in creativity, and there never will be.” I want my daughter to read this book so she will better understand that fear is a natural part of creativity, as Gilbert says, “Your fear will always be triggered by your creativity, because creativity asks you to enter into realm of uncertain outcome, and fear hates uncertain outcome.” I’d like my son to read this book because he, like me feels compelled to live a creative life, and as his creative life just begins he will need to understand that it will not be easy. Like Gilbert says, “…treasures (are) hidden within you — extraordinary treasures… and bringing those treasures to light takes work and faith and focus and courage and hour of devotion…”
Overall, I think anyone who reads Gilbert’s book, “Big Magic” will find something that they will want to take away with them to help them live a more creative life. “A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger like, a happier life, and expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life.”