Elizabeth Gilbert is the famous author of Eat Pray Love. Some people loved that book and found full resonance with her quest to find herself on a round-the-world journey, while others thought she was not quite funny enough and too self-absorbed. I might have been slightly in the latter camp, but after attending an interview with her and listening to her speak about her life and writing, I gained a new appreciation and respect for this author.
In Big Magic Gilbert champions creativity and does a fine job of describing the creative process. She believes that creative living is necessary for a healthy and sane lifestyle and makes a good case for it. Her light and humorous touch is spot on and she is very honest and open about her own approach to the art of writing. She uses the vulnerability of her own story to teach lessons about what to do and what not to do. Fear is the worst barrier to creative expression. Excuses may include “no time, no talent, fear of the unknown, fear of criticism. etc.” She is practical about her call to creativity, advising people not to give up their day jobs just yet, but to feel free to explore and follow their curiosity and do the things that spark joy. Creative living doesn’t have to be art, music, or writing…it can be mushroom farming, gardening, travel planning, cooking, collecting, dancing, knitting, photography, blogging, or whatever, and the best part of all–you don’t have to be good at what you are doing, you just have to thoroughly enjoy it. Like Brené Brown says, perfectionism is dangerous and can be a block to creativity. Let’s do those things we enjoy without setting impossible standards for ourselves. Of course many of us already have hobbies or creative work and have discovered the joy of what this bring to our lives. For those people, this book is affirming.
Aside from a weird theory about ideas having a life of their own and latching on to receptive humans, I found her advice about creativity, handling rejection, and dealing with doubt to be helpful and down to earth. I really enjoyed the book and would not hesitate to recommend it.