Big Magic is the best self-help book I have ever read. Truly. Learning about how creativity works both in terms of the process and the essence of being creative itself has always amazed me and I couldn’t find anyone who put it into better words than Elizabeth Gilbert. Her book is separated into six parts : courage, enchantment, permission, persistence, trust, divinity. These six parts all share a common pattern of decortication of the essential characteristics of creativity, outlining at the same time the obstacles and hurdles that can be encountered not necessarily because being creative is hard but essentially because it is misunderstood. I have never seen an author so passionate about demonstrating to readers why it is so important to cultivate what she describes as “stubborn gladness” or the idea of constantly pursuing wonder and chasing our own curiosity, whatever comes in our way. Her motto is undoubtedly “to live in a state of uninterrupted marvel”
What I liked the most about Gilbert’s book is one particularly fascinating idea: the universe buries strange jewels deep within us all and then stands back to see if we can find them and ultimately, undertaking creative living is the confirmation that you are on the hunt for these “jewels”. Gilbert clearly encourages her readers to go on a little soul-searching, to make it fun rather than scary, to strongly believe that a creative life whatever that may seem like is an amplified life. Most importantly, she presented a metaphor that I found very interesting: our planet is full of creative ideas that pay visits to different individuals awaiting the person who will seize the opportunity and manifest it. If the idea grows tired of waiting, it leaves you and tries with someone else. What a way to see it! I think that it completely shifts our perception of creativity and really encourages us to stop putting aside our projects for “the right time”, because in reality we are never completely ready and if we don’t make time for the things that make us feel alive, that spark will leave to find someone cherishing the fire.
Creative living does not necessarily refer to the arts! It can be anything that involves the use of the imagination or original ideas to create something. Anything. Big Magic is way more than a set of instructions on picking up on your last idea, it is a lifestyle that Gilbert advocates for through the presentation of her own genuinely wise experiences. Learning about her own path as an example of the roller coaster that is creative living was truly insightful and a way of understanding her beliefs in practice. I found one of the examples she talked about both funny and unforeseen as she recounted her encounter with a writer who was working on the exact same story narrative she had given up on a few years ago: a narrative so precise, rare and original that finding someone who was in the process of writing the story was unbelievable. That’ is what she calls “Big Magic”: the beautiful mysteries of accepting the knock of inspiration on your door and not letting it go.
There are so many other interesting lessons, insights, quotes and experiences to learn about in this book. I recommend it to anyone interested in the subject and even if you aren’t, believe me, you won’t be able to put it down.