Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

I've never read anything by Gilbert, only heard a lot of people didn't love "Eat, Pray, Love" so I was curious if I was going to love it or hate it. 

This actually proved to be inspiring and a lot of her points nailed on the head what I needed to hear. I've been keeping a book journal and jotting down my thoughts as I go. This is a way for me to compile all of these thoughts together and remember why I needed to read this.

First, creativity always meant for me that I had to write, draw, paint, compose a song, sing, etc. but I like her definition of creativity as curiosity. When you become curious, you tend to learn more, and maybe then you'll have an spark of an idea that you want to execute. Fear can come into play but the "less I fight my fear, the less it fights back."

One of the many things that gets my hung up about creativity is originality. I feel like I need to come up with the most original idea and do it. But Gilbert suggests that we've been doing the same thing as other people have been doing for ages and why do we need to feel like we need to branch out? There are so many of the same ideas but really, it's not the same because it hasn't been done by you. Only you have the creative touches to make it your own. 

Something that struck me again when I read this that I've heard before is that "people aren't thinking about you anyway." That is so true! We tend to stress so much that someone today is thinking about something you said last week, or yesterday, or 10 years ago, when really they have no time to think about you! They're thinking about their own lives and probably what people are thinking about them haha. 

It's so liberating to know that maybe people judge or ridicule in that tiny moment that you are with them but they don't have all the time in the world to stress about it later. I remember this experience when I was a waitress at Jacob Lake and I made a very stupid comment to a customer and I could tell he knew I didn't know what I was talking about. It's been almost 6 years and I still get embarrassed thinking about it but I doubt that he's ever thought of it again (well let's hope!) Good thing he doesnt' know my name or what I look like. :)

When an idea comes, if you don't grab onto it, it will roll off and find someone else's conciousness. She described this event when she started writing this story about an Amazon jungle and Minnesotian woman. Because of life events she neglected the project. She happened to have lunch with Ann Patchett a few years later and they were talking about Ann's book. It turns out that Ann was writing about a Minnesotian woman in the Amazon jungle. Talk about a crazy turn of events. The idea hit Gilbert but becasue of neglect, it sprung to Ann and it was a huge success. 

My own hang up of the book is I felt it was driving out those who want to be writers. I know she repeatedly points that creativity is for anything but sometimes I felt like I had to be a writer to get what she was talking about. I'll be honest: I'm an awful writer. I'm terrible at grammar and what not. But that's okay. I just love the idea of writing down thoughts because I'm ALWAYS grateful later on when I read it again. 

My sister is a great example of bounding creativity. She just started her own Etsy shop called Della and Drew (check it out!) and she just goes on a whim and does something. It's like she doesn't think twice about these things, which is awesome. I'm trying to learn from her on how I can be better about putting my work out there. 

Even reading this book has made me intersted (see, just trying to be curious!) about doing another blog solely on books and where there are a community of readers writing in what they read and posting weekly reviews. It's similar feel to I guess if no one else wants to join, I've been reading plenty to throw my thoughts out there but I love hearing other "voices" in a blog format like that. 

My sis-in-law also wrote a great article about this book here if you want to read more on this subject. Anyway, great read with a lot to think on. 

*warning: some language


  1. Julia, I really learned a lot reading this review. I like that definition of creativity! I have felt the same way...that's been done by v someone else! But what a great concept that it hasnt been done by me! Keep up these reviews or good luck with that blog...I will be the first to subscribe!

  2. I felt the exact same way about this book. It's true I felt like most of her advice was geared towards writers, but writing is how I feel I creatively express myself best, so it worked for me (also, you are not a terrible writer). I also loved her points about originality. In the history of creative endeavor, having to be "original" is actually a very modern concept. It was all good stuff. And if you ever do start that blog, I'd love to follow!

  3. thanks for sharing your insight. I learned so much from it!

  4. Julia, you write so well. I'm amazed how you keep a book journal. That is so awesome. I'm glad you shared a different meaning of creativity. It makes me feel better, about feeling so uncreative. Keep up your good reviews and recommendations. They're great!