When Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic was first released, I wasn’t amongst the diehard fans who had to have the book instantly.
Nope, I wasn’t in a rush at all — not because I didn’t want to read the book… I did! But I couldn’t see how this self help on creativity would resonate with me — not because I don’t value creativity… I do! But because I’m not an author. Or a painter. Or even a designer, dancer or musician. I never considered myself an artist. And I’m not really feeling stuck these day. A book on how to get back to your art didn’t call my name.
But I adore Elizabeth Gilbert so I decided to give it a shot. I added my name to the 473 person waitlist at NYPL.
That was about 2 months ago. Last week, my turn arrived to read Big Magic.
Except there’s a caveat. I wasn’t going to be able to read it. I somehow, by accident, signed up for the audio book.
Okay, whatever, I figured, I’ll approach it like all the podcasts I listen to and love. I’ll pop it on before I bed and hear how it goes.
Immediately, I was hooked.
First off, have you ever listened to an audio book before? One that is read by the author? Is this how all audiobooks work? Because it’s fantastic! It was as if Elizabeth Gilbert was right there in the room with me! PLUS, I was able to listen way more frequently than if I had to find time to sit down and read. I had it on my phone which meant I could take it with me on the bus, walking to yoga, on the train, and yes, while dozing off to sleep. I got through its entirety in 4 days! Never have I plowed through a book that fast when reading!
But back to the topic — creativity. Ms. Gilbert defines it as the relationship between a human being and the mysteries of inspiration.
She treats inspiration as a living entity. Something to be revered – yes. Yet also to be invited. In one section she speaks about dressing up with lipstick and perfume before sitting down to write.
Inspiration plants hidden jewels deep within each one of us, and then stands back to see if we can find them. The hunt to uncover those jewels, that’s creative living. The courage to go on that hunt in the first place, that’s what separates a mundane existence from a more enchanted one. The often surprising results of that hunt — that’s what I call Big Magic.
So, this self help on creativity is not only for the artists of the world who are seeking a pulitzer prize, the Oscar, or a gig at Carnegie Hall. She wants all of us to live creatively which means to lead a life driven by curiosity instead of fear.
The book is made up of rich anecdotes to support its themes – courage, enchantment, permission, persistence, trust and divinity.
Listening to Liz Gilbert share her stories is incredibly engaging. She speaks as if she’s in intimate conversation with a dear friend, and perhaps she does consider her readers dear friends. Her language includes words like duh and dude alongside elegant descriptors and poetic phrasing. She keeps coming back to this idea of stubborn gladness. Obviously, the NY Times bestselling author is a solid writer. She’s also a captivating speaker.
There are so many valuable takeaways from Big Magic:
The paradox of making great work — giving it your all, yet realizing it’s not important.
Being able to let go of perfectionism — just do the work, get it done.
And staying curious. No matter how lightly an interest whispers, follow through to see where it goes.
She also gets into matters of the soul. In fact, spirituality is threaded throughout the entire premise which is probably what resonated with me most…
Pursuing your creativity is a spiritual practice.
Buy the book here.
And checkout her podcast, Magic Lessons to hear Liz share more on Big Magic.
What do you think of Big Magic?
(Image found on Elizabeth Gilbert’s instagram via Helen Treuel).
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This is extremely timely. This morning I finished listening to Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. It is beyond fantastic! On your recommendation I just purchased Big Magic and look forward to listening to it. Many thanks for sharing.
Ok, I’m going to have to check it out. Is it something that you would listen to again? I have an Audible subscription and have thus far only downloaded Pema Chodron titles, lol.
Sounds like a great read! I’ll have to check it out for sure! I love reading books that make the mundane seems so much…more 🙂
Year of the Yes! I’ll have to check that one out, thank you!! Let me know how you like Big Magic.
She references Pema Chodron in Big Magic!! Lorien, I think you will get a lot from this book — there’s such a spiritual component embedded within. I probably won’t listen again because I only borrowed it from the library. I could actually see reading the book another time though — I bet that would be a different / fresh experience. xoxo
Which is exactly what she does, Susie, she encourages an enchanting existence. Check it out!
So I think the Universe is trying to tell me something. I’m catching up on my blog reading tonight and you are the second blog in a matter of minutes to mention her book and rave about it. I wanted to read it but wasn’t sure it would be right at this time. Seems like it will be:). Thanks for the nudge!
I’m in total agreement with you here…the Universe IS trying to tell you something! I felt the same way about the book — unsure that it’d be right for me. And when I finished, I wasn’t like “Okay, time to go write my novel.” But it was definitely inspiring. And if anything…she is an amazing writer. I got a lot from just hearing how her words come together.
Big Magic so far is great! I still have 2 hrs to go. It’s one of those I will need to listen to again. But I gotta tell you, Year of Yes is still my fav.
Just reserved Year of Yes! Thank YOU!
I can’t wait to read it! I’m now #30 on the VPL (Vancouver) waitlist. I was also not in a rush to read but after reading your post I’m getting very excited!
It was a great read (or listen in my case.) Definitely a lot to take away — no matter what your intentions are.
Happy Holidays, Aleya!