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Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear explores the magic of creativity in everyday life without being preachy or boring!
My excitement is at an absolute peak. I have discovered a book which from the get-go I knew I wanted everyone to know about. The kind of book that speaks to you in a way, without sounding preachy or condescending. A book which helps one to understand their creative process in the most insightful way. A book which explores the layers of the creative persona of writers, and provides a level of inspiration which seemed impossible to attain through the pages of a book.
Some might call it a self-help book but I consider it to one of the best reads on creative living for a generation of people coming into awareness of their passion and the journey of the same. Elizabeth Gilbert of the famous ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ penned her experiences and learnings and titled it – Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.
Some of us may have read her previous books and found them delightful where some may have found them a tad self-involved and autobiographical, but whatever your notions regarding her writing, I urge you to read this book without a thought to the author but as a book that has been written specially for you.
What struck me instantly upon seeing the title of the book was how she put these two terms together – magic and creative living. When did we forget that anything that we create is indeed magic? The ideas that take form in the mind and that manifest themselves either through language, written words, dance, art, etc. are unique and representative of magic taking shape in our imagination. The book has various Aha! moments where you realize that the very same experience has happened to you or is currently taking place in your life.
She speaks of how all of us are creative beings and brings up a topic we all shy away from admitting to about ourselves – fear.
Here are some gems from her book which I hope make you go out and buy a copy instantly to help you in your creative pursuits –
How many of us have often felt that our roles and responsibilities were so mounting that to take out time for our passions seemed selfish? That our duties as a mother, wife, daughter, professional, or as a father, husband, son and working individual were too much to deal with, and our creative time seemed far down the list of priorities?
She states – “I am committed to a creative life not to be famous or challenge the system but simply because I liked it”. Isn’t that reason enough to delve into what we love with much enthusiasm and joy and not wait for someone to sanction us this time or dare I say it, approve ?
With technology we are constantly facing a barrage of information thrown in our direction, but we must remember that the environment and people around us can prove to be constant sources of inspiration. At times we need our mind to be blank while fully alert and observant, to hear sounds we normally miss, or view sights we barely glance at but do not pause to take in its beauty or grandeur.
We send out a message to the universe that we are too busy or preoccupied to pay heed to the cues and signals coming our way in the form of ideas. And so they come to us only to be unconsciously asked to move on.
How many of us would plead guilty to this? (Raises hand sheepishly!)
We all lose sight of the process once it seems tedious or we face a creative block or we do not receive from it what we hoped to. And we take that pause and step back, and perhaps too much time goes by and we end up being absent from our own creativity.
Linking these moments and seeing them through is what heightens our sense of being and makes us feel far more alive. As compared to going into a slump and refusing to end our pity party.
We might feel that what we wish to create or have created does not hold a candle to what is already out there. But does that make our creation worthless?
This hit a nerve for me as this is exactly how I would feel once I would have penned my musings. That I did not feel them of any use to the universe or anyone in it. That it would come off as being narcissistic or too narrow.
But then as these creative ideas kept coming to the mind and were spilling out on paper I realised that there was a bigger force at work here, far bigger than my belief in my work. The ideas in itself were telling me that they are worthy of being set free into the universe and that’s when I took a leap of faith and never looked back.
One of the oldest clichés creators hear is that sadness and misery help us dig deep into ourselves and the ideas that stem from these are representative of one’s best work. Is it necessary to be miserable in order to create? Shouldn’t our passion elevate us to happiness and excitement in order to create? Emotional pain is such that being able to work through it is not always possible.
This line jumped out from the page and smacked me in the head. It nearly brought me to tears as I realized that not being able to create at a painful time in life did not make me a failure.
Fear holds us back rather than setting us free. So does perfectionism. We must create just because we can and we want to. That piece may never be exactly as you wish, but it is there in existence because you did take that wish and carry it through.
We can’t wait for anyone to let us off easy. We must do that for ourselves. To set ourselves free of how we need to have something turn out and just focus on doing so.
Gilbert writes about the creative process which seems more like a conversation with yourself rather than reading a book. One of the profound experiences she talks about is having an idea which you put on hold, to later discover that someone else created something which you had conjured up through your imagination. Does that count as stealing? Well it simply means that an idea came to you but you did not give it the attention it so needed and so it waited awhile and then moved on.
As a writer, I have read some great pieces that had come to my mind but I kept them nestled there safely to visit at a later time. And then found them in someone else’s work. Reading about this concept of ideas that require attention finally solved this mystery for me.
How did he or she write about something that I was just pondering over?
There you go. That’s the answer. It’s magical and magic.
If you’d like to pick up Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert, use our affiliate links: at Flipkart, at Amazon India or at Amazon US
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Image source: magic of creativity by Shutterstock.
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