4 Lessons from Reading Big Magic
So, I’m going to start this off by being really honest… the only reason I read this book is because all the Eat Pray Love copies (digital, print,and audio) were already borrowed at my local library. I figured, hey it’s from the same author let’s see if I even like her writing style.
A friend of mine recently introduced me to the audiobook world. And not just the audiobook world, the FREE audiobook world. Yes, free audiobooks. (Let’s see how many times I can use the word audiobooks in this paragraph!) She told me that you can access your local library’s audio and ebook copies through an app and all you need is a library card. Ah the beauty of technology!
With that being said, I didn’t actually read this book, I listened to it! I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy listening instead of reading. I LOVE holding a real life book in my hands. Plus, I’m a bit obsessed with highlighting and you can’t do that with an audiobook! But, my first experience with audiobooks was more than just a success because now I’m a little bit obsessed…
Alright, now I’ll get into the real topic of this post, the book! So, Big Magic is all about cultivating your creativity and owning it. Elizabeth Gilbert has a very interesting view on creativity, inspiration, ideas, and how they come into our lives.
If you are a creative person (or want to be), Big Magic will definitely help you in a few different ways. If you are extremely analytical and think you don’t have a creative bone in your body, I still believe this is a good book for you! Mostly because everyone is creative, just in different ways. You might find that you are more creative than you think after reading this book.
Here are the 4 top lessons I learned from listening to it.
Lesson 1: Big Magic
Elizabeth defines Big Magic as “The divine relationship between a human being and the mysteries of inspiration”.
Elizabeth expands this thought by stating that ideas and inspiration come and go as a way to find a “host” that will act upon it. Essentially, inspiration strikes but doesn’t last forever. When you feel inspired or have a light bulb moment, that idea came to you hoping you would take action and make it come to life.
This thought that ideas actively move from person to person was a little hard to swallow the first time I heard it. But, if you think about it, it's a beautiful thought. God gives us inspiration and ideas, but they aren’t singular. You may not be the only one with a certain idea and are not the only one experiencing the same Big Magic. Or possibly, you may be the host in order to pass it onto someone else. You may have inspiration strike only to let it fade away so someone else can act upon it and share it with the world.
When you do act upon inspiration, its something bigger than yourself. When you think about it, there is a very high chance that it has been passed from a multitude of people before it arrived in you. The passing of the torch, so to speak, may have altered and changed the idea or inspiration into exactly what God wanted it to be before it got to you.
Lesson 2: Fighting Fear
As I write this post, I remember being terrified of writing something for the world to see that actually had my name on it ( I still am). Putting yourself out there with our words, art, or creativity is scary. How will it be recieved? Will anyone actually like it? The fear and anxiety can hold you back so far that you end up not sharing your creativity at all.
“What is creative living? Any life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than fear” -Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic
One of Elizabeth’s main point in this book is that you do not need anyone’s permission to live a creative life. You do not need anyone to validate or appraise your ideas for them to have value. The value lies in your effort and passion behind the idea. Also, invoking the rule of Big Magic, your idea already has value because it was given to you to for a reason. God gave you the idea to do something with it. What that something is, you have to decide.
Lesson 3: Art is Art
Elizabeth’s perspective on art is beautiful. She makes a point to mention that she isn’t just talking to the Picassos of the world. Everything created out of your pure love and joy for creating is considered art. Your doodles on the side of your notebook is art. The halloween costumes you made for your kids is art. The poems and short stories you are scared to share with the world is art.The smallest action of creativity meets the definition of Big Magic just as much as the Mona Lisa or Statue of David. Every little piece of art counts!
“I have watched so many other people murder their creativity by demanding that their art pay the bills. I’ve seen artists drive themselves broke and crazy because of this insistence that they are not legitimate creators unless they can exclusively live off of their creativity. And when their creativity fails them (meaning: doesn’t pay the bills), they descend into resentment, anxiety, or even bankruptcy. Worst of all, they often quit creating at all.” -Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic
She also goes into the pressure that we can put on our art. That people go as far as murdering their art because it’s not making them money or making them famous. I appreciate her acknowledgement of artists who think they must attain something in exchange for their art. I think our society puts a pressure on artists to do so, which in turn puts pressure on the art itself.
Lesson 4: Let Inspiration Live
The big magic of inspiration is really you! How you use it, how you cultivate it, and how you share it. We seem to try and mold our inspiration and ideas to fit what we think it needs to be. Sometimes, you just gotta let the inspiration live and do its thing. Let it guide you. Or really, let God guide you!
“Let inspiration guide you wherever it wants. For most of history people just made things, and they didn’t make such a freaking big deal out of it.” -Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic
Whenever I try and force an idea, I end up giving up on it. The process never feels right or never turns out exactly how I wanted it to. So, I give up. I think back to all the times I have given up on inspiration because it didn’t fit my agenda. Imagine what would have come of that creativity if I would have been patient. Well, now someone else is probably doing a better job of it anyways!
I will leave you with this perfect quote from Big Magic,
“Your creative work is not your baby: If anything you are it’s baby.”
You can purchase Big Magic on Amazon by clicking the button below!