While I definitely judged Big Magic by its cover, I was not disappointed in the least.
Gilbert separates the aspects of creativity into 7 parts: Courage, Enchantment, Permission, Persistence, Trust, and Divinity. Within each part, there are mini "chapters", a few pages long at most. She includes personal anecdotes, as well as stories of other creatives.
The way it was written is startlingly readable and fresh. It does technically fall into the category of "self help", but it had none of the sappy, easy to predict advice I'd expected. But I mean, we are talking about the woman who wrote Eat Pray Love...
It feels as though she is actually sitting there, talking you through how to be more creative - something we've all tried to do at some point. And it's not from her high up stoop as a successful and published writer, it's from the passenger seat. It's the kind of book that gives you tingles in your toes, and itches in your fingers, the kind of book that makes you get in your car and drive to new places.
I actually developed my own routine with this book; it became my constant companion while I was wandering through its creamy, white pages. I'd plunk the book on my desk, and ravenously devour a couple of chapters. Then I'd pause, make my way downstairs for a cup of tea, letting Gilbert's ideas really sink in.
Inspiration is fickle
Her ideas are like nothing I've ever heard before about creativity. For her, inspiration is a live being, a spirit who travels through the universe, like a nature spirit or nymph. It'll come to you if it senses openness and a willingness to try new things, but it won't wait around forever. Sometimes it'll come and drop an idea in your head, but the idea just won't be compatible with you. This idea might wait around, or it could pack its bags and head over to someone else.
After a few chapters, I'd sit and let inspiration come to me. Surprisingly, it was quite willing. I'd had a previous habit of denying its ideas quickly, judging them on the spot, and over time, inspiration would only peek out from around a corner. But after Big Magic, I welcomed whatever idea it was willing to throw to me, and I went with it.
Wearing: Topshop cropped sweater (similar), Lush envelope soft pant (similar), BP. teardrop necklace (similar), VANS white slip on
It was a novel experience, having ideas flow quickly and endlessly. I didn't question anything, I just took pleasure in the simple act of putting pencil to paper, and used that as my validation, rather than how "good" my art turned out. And it ended up turning out better than anything I'd created before.
A day in the city
I rarely venture up to the city, but when I do, it's a day of adventure and new sights. This was my first time at Baker Beach; I can see why it's such a popular tourist site. One of my favorite parts about San Francisco, and cities in general, is the wide range of people there. There is so much creativity and innovation, it's bound to rub off right?
Elizabeth Gilbert is wise. I love what I've been able to do since, just keeping these ideas in the back of my head (inspiration is always at the front of the table as thanks):
*Don't turn inspiration away, even if you don't like what it's telling you
*Take pleasure in creating art, not just the art itself
*Some ideas may not be right for you; thank them and let them go
*Don't be a "starving artist", love your art and it will love you
*Treat you art like an affair - you can definitely make time for it everyday
*Fear is healthy, to a certain extent
Without a doubt, this is a book well worth your time. And really, it's not just because of the pretty cover.
Have you read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert? What's your take on living creatively? Where do you get inspiration from?
p.s. I've got more book reviews! Books by strong women or art/photography/fashion books.
p.p.s. here's a more creative piece I wrote and really liked. it's on idealization, and how I feel about it. let me know what you think of it!