Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear (book review)


Big Magic“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them,” writes Elizabeth Gilbert, “The hunt to uncover those jewels—that’s creative living.”  The author of the megahit “Eat, Pray, Love” and other best sellers, Gilbert knows a thing or two about creativity.  She shares her insights in her new book “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear”.

As in Eat, Pray, Love, Big Magic is written in a conversational style that makes the reader feel he/she is discussing creativity with a best friend – your best friend Liz.  “Please understand that the only reason I can speak so authoritatively about fear is that I know it so intimately. I know every inch of fear, from head to toe,” Gilbert writes.  I liked the author’s openness as she tells of her own challenges.  She gives numerous examples of blocks she overcame in writing Eat, Pray, Love and other books.  “Your fear will always be triggered by your creativity, because creativity asks you to enter into realms of uncertain outcome, and fear hates uncertain outcome,” she counsels.

Gilbert has a way of anticipating any objections the reader may have.  “This idea I have has already been explored in other books, why should I write mine?” is one I have told myself.  Liz won’t let me get away with that.  “Aspiring writers will often tell me, ‘I have an idea, but I’m afraid it’s already been done.’ Well, yes, it probably has already been done.  Most things have already been done—but they have not yet been done by you.”  Touche!

In another section Gilbert deals with the sensitive topic of money.  “I have watched so many other people murder their creativity by demanding that their art pay the bills … You must be smart about providing for yourself. To claim that you are too creative to think about financial questions is to infantilize yourself—and I beg you not to infantilize yourself, because it’s demeaning to your soul.”  She tells how she had a day job while authoring her first three books – only after she hit the big time with Eat, Pray, Love could she live on her writing income alone.  I found her advice to be very practical.

While Big Magic contains loads of suggestions for us creative types, it’s not all lecture.  Gilbert includes many personal stories throughout, like the time she asked her partner Felipe if he felt comfortable with her writing about him in Eat, Pray, Love.  “Well, it depends, What’s at stake?” he asks.  “Nothing,” she replied, “Trust me – nobody reads my books.” (Eat, Pray, Love went on to be read by over 12 million people!)  In this way Big Magic is a fun book to read, too.

In conclusion Gilbert tells the reader in response to fear to “please calm down now and get back to work, okay?  The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say yes.”  Her words inspired me to revive a stalled book project I’ve been working on, and I feel she’ll encourage you to pursue your creative dreams, too.

Categories : Book Reviews

Leave a Reply