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I recently finished Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, and whew. Talk about a life-changer. I picked it up a while back from my college's Barnes and Noble after getting a gift card for Christmas from my grandparents. I tucked it away on my bookshelf and completely forgot about it until I was packing up everything to leave Texas for the summer. I came across it, was like "Oh yeah, I own this," and threw it in my suitcase with the rest of my belongings. Three weeks later, I'm finished with it and still brooding over its wisdom. For me, this book brought a whole new meaning to what creative living means and today, I'm here to share my favorite bits from it, which, by the way, were exceedingly difficult to choose. There's a lot of stuff in here, but I'll save some of it for you to discover on your own. So if you'd like to hear a bit of Liz Gilbert's wisdom on pushing past fear to live creatively, just keep reading.
1. Inspiration and ideas are alive.
Okay, so when I first got to this section, I was like, "What do you MEAN ideas are alive? That's insane!" Turns out, it's not. Inspiration isn't just your brain being like "Oh, I have an idea now." Inspiration is alive and thriving and ideas are wandering through our universe, waiting for people to collaborate with. That's how Liz described it. She said that inspiration waits until you're ready for an idea, and then when you least expect it, decides to pop that idea in your head. It's a supernatural force, not a thing we create, and that has led me to treat the process of coming up with ideas a little differently. Instead of sitting at a table with a notebook and a pen and just waiting for something to appear, I live my life. I do things as I would normally do them. I tell the universe, "Here I am, living my life. I am ready for an idea. Come at me," and oftentimes, it does! I don't get frustrated with my lack of ideas anymore. I wait for the ideas to find me instead of the other way around. Let me tell you, this is a much better way to get inspiration to strike. Banging your head on a table in irritation and anger has yet to do the same thing that living life and not giving a flip-flop does for me.
2. Fear is boring.
This was the second most earth-shattering thing I discovered while reading this book. A lot of people are afraid to set out on their creative endeavors for a number of reasons. Fear of rejection, fear of unoriginality, fear of only being able to produce that one good thing and then never being able to do anything else, stuff like that. Liz taught me that this is boring. It's boring because "fear only ever has one thing to say to us, and that thing is: 'STOP!'" Fear is never unique; it tells us the same thing over and over. It is, as Liz would say, "the most boring thing about you." It's boring, and therefore it's not an excuse to not live your most creative life.
When you've come up with an idea, the first thing you feel is excitement and anticipation. You can't wait to get started and you're so excited you can hardly stand it. That is until the fear begins to set it. "Fear is triggered by creativity," as Liz said in Big Magic. Creativity is literally asking you to go somewhere you haven't gone before, and that's scary. It's scary, but in order to create, you must push past it. As Liz said, "Fear hates the uncertain outcome. This is nothing to be ashamed of. It is, however, something to be dealt with."
3. You have treasures inside of you that want to come out.
Each person on this earth was born with one or a few unique gifts. We're going to call those gifts "treasures" for right now. These treasures are unique to that one individual and are dying to come out. Liz says that this "takes work and faith and focus and courage and hours of devotion." We cannot live our lives hoping these treasures will just make themselves known at some point. We have to work. We have to push past the fear and the unknown and the rejection, and just keep going. If we have the courage to live creatively, the treasures deep inside will appear. We have to bare our souls and tell the universe we are up to the challenge. That we want to live creatively and we'll do what we need to do to make that happen. We need to "follow our curiosities," even if they seem small and mundane. If we do these things, creative living is in our grasp.
I loved Big Magic immensely and would highly recommend it to anyone.
Credit for all quotations: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
Photo by me