A few years ago, before I began my process of awakening (you know, from that zombie-esque sleepwalking!) questioning everything in life, and self-development, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, would have been the type of book I would have run a mile from!
On the outside, it appears to be your classic, namby-pamby, head in the clouds, self-help, woo-woo drivel for pretentious creative types. Written by the author of Eat, Pray, Love (your classic namby-pamby, head in the clouds, white middle-class American woman on a foreign journey of self discovery drivel!), you can see how one might think that!
But once again on this increasingly incredible twist to my life over the past 2 years, I find myself thinking and feeling the exact opposite of what the old me would have thought or felt.
Once again, it is an example of a book coming to me just when I seemed to need it.
I actually had marked Big Magic on my Amazon wish list a whole year before I bought it. I’m not sure it would have meant much 12 months ago. But now, it has given me inspiration, belief and so much more.
The central question which Big Magic tries to answer is:
“Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?”
It’s these kind of questions that might have left me rolling my eyes a few years back but today, I’m more open-minded and have a different set of beliefs about our world and about us as humans. Because I’m certain that we all have greatness hidden inside, we just have to figure out what that is and then have the courage and belief to take action – bring it forth. Gilbert feels the same:
“The universe buries deep jewels within us all and then stands back to see if we can find them – the hunt for them is called creative living. The surprising results are called Big Magic.”
This is a book written for creative people; namely, people who want to re-ignite the creative spark within them. But Gilbert explains very well that actually, EVERYONE is creative in some way. You don’t have to be an artist, sculptor, writer, dancer, poet, actor or what we would traditionally label a creative. As Gilbert says:
“If you’re alive you’re a creative person.”
She gives the example of a woman who loved to skate but had given up when she realised she wasn’t good enough to be a champion. After 25 years, she realised something was missing from her life – the joy she had from skating.
That was her creative living.
I relate to this so much because after many years of hiding away from the world, I completely stopped playing football – a sport I loved very much. My anxiety also prevented me from writing; what was the point? It was too late to get a job in the industry and I probably wasn’t good enough anyway.
When I bought Big Magic, I had already begun this blog.
But after a couple of months, negativity and doubt crept up on me.
Why didn’t I have more readers?
Was all this hard work running and maintaining a blog really worth it?
Was my writing even good enough?
Was this just a waste of time, better spent trying to make money?
Once I sprinted through the wonderful Big Magic, all my questions were answered.
Because at the end of the day, I LOVE writing.
It shouldn’t matter if 2 people or 2 thousand are reading my work. Because it’s the act of writing that is important to me – not how many likes or subscribers I have. I don’t do this to build email lists and sell products and spam affiliate links.
I do this because I LOVE WORDS!
There’s just something about releasing my inner most feelings, then crafting and shaping them into something coherent, flowing, even poetic and hopefully entertaining. Choosing the right simile, selecting the best metaphor, extracting the emotions and igniting the senses of the reader. This is a platform where I can truly be myself, unfiltered and as biased as I want to be!
During large periods of my life where I haven’t written, I’ve often felt like I had an itch that couldn’t be scratched. But now that I am able to reach that itch, I’m finding that more itches are appearing – because I want to do more!!
I want to write that novel, the next epic adventure series!
I want to help more people, to get them to wake up and experience life to its fullest.
I want to help shift the consciousness of the planet so that Earth can be a better place.
I believe that I can do that through the written word because I think these, are among my hidden treasures.
But here’s where the book takes a particularly spiritual, magic-based turn! Elizabeth Gilbert believes that creativity is not entirely human in its origins:
“Ideas are a disembodied, energetic life form. They are completely separate from us but capable of interacting with us. Ideas have no material body but they do have consciousness and they certainly have will. Ideas are driven by a single impulse – to be made manifest.”
This way of thinking about creativity, will change the way you go about life. It makes perfect sense if you believe in the law of attraction or in quantum physics, because they state that thoughts are things – energy frequencies. It’s not a new idea to say that thoughts have their own energy frequencies and are floating around the universe of their own accord.
Gilbert goes on to tell some incredible stories to back this all up, of how thoughts attach themselves to us. My favourite is the woman who catches ideas – yes, literally CATCHES them!
Then there’s the story of how Gilbert lost her idea for a novel…….by accidentally transferring it to her friend!
But here’s the thing; it’s also not a new concept to believe that ideas are not created within our mind but actually come to us through an external source. Many writers down the years, speak of how they felt “possessed” when they wrote their books; as if the ideas were coming so quickly and easily and perfectly, that they knew an outside force was flowing through them (Conversations With God, was written in this vein).
However, the spiritual side of Big Magic only tells half the story.
What makes this such an essential read, is that she is actually very down to earth. Both in her conversational, friendly, humourous tone and more importantly, the practical advice she gives.
She doesn’t sugar-coat creative living and she also doesn’t treat it like some arty-farty subject for those of a certain class. She tells you straight that most creative work is TOUGH. It involves grinding it out, struggling through periods of self-doubt and creative block.
But like myself, she doesn’t believe you HAVE to live a life of pain to produce great work. She calls out those overly-serious, tortured souls and miserable, snooty types who think art should only be made with some higher purpose.
This is a self help book because she gets us to realise that fear is what is stopping us living that creative life and that we are the only thing standing in our way. My favourite quote is:
“Argue for your limitations and you get to keep them.”
Gilbert doesn’t put up with any excuses or any bullshit. Now that is my kind of person.
I’m now back on track with my writing and will never look back. I recommend this book to anyone with even one tiny creative bone inside them. It might just change the way you view your creativity.