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Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
Published by Riverhead Books on September 22nd 2015
Buy on Book Depository
Big Magic. Elizabeth Gilbert’s next big hit book after Eat Pray Love. Not that I’ve read Eat Pray Love, or actually know anything about it. I instantly dismissed it as fluffy trash (I still don’t know if I’m correct in that assumption). I discovered Elizabeth through her interviews on creativity. Despite reading Big Magic, I love her idea of following your curiosity instead of your passions (both change, but we allow curiosity to, thus making it a more realistic challenge to chase). But what did I learn reading Big Magic? OK, quick disclaimer: Elizabeth and I differ on several ideas, and yes, I’m a tad sarcastic in this list.
Artists (and writers) shouldn’t suffer for their art
We agree on this one. Work a paying job until your art can support you. There’s no shame in adulting. And art owes you nothing. Harsh but true. Seriously, you can’t produce your best work while stressing over bills.
Ideas are like fairies fluttering from writer to writer
And it’s totally your fault if you don’t grasp that amazing idea. It’ll go straight to someone else who’ll make it happen. Because ideas aren’t from us, we’re blessed with them from… the magical ideas gods?
University and formal education is a waste of time
Well, of course, it is if the idea fairies deliver us creative ideas. Elizabeth says we’ll learn more from reading and writing and creating. That’s how she did it.
Not everyone will like what you create, and that’s OK
Exactly, imagine how different Twilight would have been if the aim was a book that everyone likes? It wouldn’t have been written. That was my example, not Elizabeth’s. Her examples were all about her experience.
Done is better than perfect
True. Few will realize something’s not perfect. Plus, the time you spend getting that last bit perfect will probably be as long as you spent writing the entire story. Don’t bother.
You have to work for what you want
It’s hard to believe this one when an idea fairy will bless you with creativity, and you shouldn’t suffer for your art, but it’s there. Writing takes the time that could be used for watching TV or with friends. It’s also lonely writing away alone. I suppose the idea fairies give you the idea, but you’re expected to work hard to speak their words. And after hours, because you still need to work to eat. It makes sense.
There is some advice I like in Big Magic. However, it’s not a book on creativity. It’s a book on Elizabeth Gilbert’s views on creativity. Thus it’s fluffy, and some of her views treat creativity more like a religion. As with all books offering advice, pick and choose the parts that make sense. There’s always something to learn.