Book Review: BIG MAGIC

Big MagicWe are all creators, or at least have the potential to be. That’s one of the messages behind Elizabeth Gilbert’s book BIG MAGIC, Creative Living Beyond Fear. As a shameless believer in magic, with an interest in the nature of creativity, I couldn’t resist this book. It didn’t disappoint.

“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.”

The author digs deep into her own experiences to offer an interesting, unique and witty take on the nature of creativity and how we can harness it for success in whatever endeavor we choose. It’s a chatty style, and you don’t have to wade through loads of heavily scientific or esoteric ideas to get to the heart of the book, which is basically that we all have the right to live a creative life, but have to accept that doing so will bring challenges.

There is much reference to courage, and how we have to make space for fear. Fear is inevitable on the creative journey, and where some people say you have to conquer fear to move forward, the author says to make space for it because it will never go away. She says that the less you fight fear, the less it fights back. To give it its voice, then tell it to simply sit back and enjoy the ride. And then there’s the importance of giving ourselves permission to create, and not to worry whether our work is good or bad, if it’s high art or low art, whether or not it gets stellar or woeful reviews, etc. etc. We just need to put our best work out there and celebrate our own courage at having done so. Gilbert says we “can only be in charge of producing the work itself. That’s a hard enough job” and that we should refuse to take on any additional jobs such as policing people’s opinions.

Another interesting part of the book was the notion that ideas are all around us, floating in the ether waiting for someone who is open and ready to receive that particular idea. If that person refuses to run with it for any reason, the idea will simply float back into the ether until it finds another willing, and ready,  mind. Fascinating stuff, and it certainly gave me and my tendency to procrastinate some food for thought 🙂

I very much enjoyed this book. For me, it’s a keeper.

11 responses to “Book Review: BIG MAGIC

  1. Wow. It sounds like there are some interesting concepts in this book. I’m especially drawn to how she deals with fear, as kind of a recognize it, but don’t let it stop you thing. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve let fear keep me from trying things. Been working real hard to let go of that and do this stuff (like getting into gondolas that go high in the air) anyhow. 🙂

    • It’s interesting how many of us allow fear to get in the way of things, Laurie. Like you, I’m working hard to learn to live with it and just do what I want to do regardless. A work in progress 🙂

  2. Sounds like a book to read. Funny but the thing about fear is like thinking you’re the only one that ever has a zit. I almost always at some point in creating something, whether a story, crocheted item, house project or whatever, have a fear of it not being good enough. Sometimes to the point of not wanting to finish it. Nice to know that fear is normal. What do they say… “There’s nothing to fear but fear itself.”

    Thanks for an addition to my TBR pile.

    • Ah yes, that old not-being-good-enough chestnut. Most of us seem to suffer from that. And it does seem that the thought of fear is more frightening that the actual fear, if that makes sense 😉

  3. Thank you this is very opportune for me as regards certain ideas I have, some of which we’ve discussed and the fear of failure. Magic indeed is around one has to be open to it. Would like to read this as sounds fascinating as well as thought provoking.

    • I think it’s really important to be open to possibilities, and even more so to act on them when they appear. No doubt this subject will form the basis of many more of our discussions in future 🙂

  4. Sounds worthy of reading. Fear plays such a big part in preventing me putting myself out there more. Fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of … well, we all know the score, don’t we. Love the concept of ideas floating in the ether waiting for someone to grab and run with one. Off to hunt it down – the book, that is. Thank you for bring it to our attention. 🙂

    • Your welcome, Kit! Fear is such a huge issue, and I hadn’t realised quite how much until I started reading around the subject. Tackle that and we can rule the world, or at least get our stuff out there 🙂

  5. sounds great. I find myself fearing things that never come to pass so perhaps I need to take a note from this book and learn to live with that fear… and put it to the back of my mind instead of the front. I’m going to check this one out. Jillian

    • Exactly, and your comment reminded me of a quote I read many, many years ago: “Some of your griefs you have cured, and the sharpest you have survived. But what torments of pain you endured, from evils that never arrived.” How true!

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