Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Big Magic - thoughts on the creative life

Big Magic quote by E. Gilbert
Are you familiar with Elizabeth Gilbert? You probably are... she is the author of the autobiographical "Eat, Pray, Love" and her recent novel "The Signature of all Things".  She is the proprietress of a fab import store called Two Buttons. And she has given a stellar TED talk on the nature of creativity. (TED talk video included at the end of this post. Watch it. You won't be sorry.) 

Big Magic
Eat Pray Love, TED talk, Two Buttons store 
Her newest book "Big Magic" was on my Kindle as soon as it was released. An author whom I respect and admire, writing about the magic of creativity and living a creative life? YES PLEASE.  I fully intended to read the book, and try a new technique or conquer a "fear" and share it here. 

I couldn't get deep into the book on my Kindle. I needed to underline and make margin notes on every other page. This book is so freaking fantastic. Her tone is conversational; making it a fun and easy read. Like sitting down to have a coffee with Liz. Then she will say something so profound, drop a truth bomb... and I need to take notes. I am 1/3 of the way through the book - 78 pages in and I have 6 flags and 5 dog eared pages. 

Her premise is that creative living is the hunt to discover and uncover the gems in each of us... to find moments of beauty and transcendence in our lives. Whether this is in actually creating art/music/poetry isn't the question. Its more along the lines of "Following your Bliss". The truth that  creativity takes courage. She talks about fleeting ideas, ideas acted upon, "multiple discovery" of ideas. She describes the slog of working hard at one's work, and the rare fleeting moments of pure inspiration like fairy dust. 

 Let me share a few quotes with you... 

"Trust me, your fear will always show up - especially when you are trying to be inventive or innovative. Your fear will always be triggered by your creativity, because creativity asks you to enter into realms of uncertain outcome, and fear hates uncertain outcome..." (Big Magic, p. 23) 

"You can dare to be pleased sometimes with what you have created... You can resist he the seductions of grandiosity, blame, and shame. You can support other people in their creative efforts, acknowledging the truth that there's plenty of room for everyone. You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes and failures... ( BM, p. 41)

And there are many more! The book is divided into sections: Courage, Enchantment, Permission, Persistence, Trust, Divinity. I think that gives hints at what else it may have to offer.  I'm sorry I hadn't finished it at this writing... but I want to savor it. I now own it in hardback and this will become a classic in my art/creativity library. Check it out. If you are a maker, designer, artist,  or not - it is proving to be an enlightening read. ( And here's her TED talk for free - see if you like her style and her message.) 

Until next time... be creative! 


  1. What a great book review, Jenny! You've got me totally convinced that I should get this book asap. And thanks for the video link. I'll be listening to that a little later today while I'm glazing some new pendants.

  2. The best books always require notes in the margins. And while you can take notes on ebooks, it's NOT the same....Looking forward to picking this up and reading it once the semester is over.

  3. Jenny, thank you so very much for sharing this. It goes to the top of the list.

  4. Love her TED talk. I had a friend who said she really didn't like Elizabeth Gilbert until she saw the talk. Now we both think she's great. Thanks for the book recommendation!

  5. Excellent review & thank you Jenny. I'm on my 2nd read through this excellent book & I agree, hard copy is a necessity! I love her wonderful explanation of "IDEA".

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