5 Things I’ve learned from Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

Ok But First Coffee Big Magic Elizabeth Gilbert

It’s not a surprise that everyone, who is related to creativity sometimes has questions like ‘Why am I doing this?’, ‘How to find a perfect idea?’ or even ‘Who is interested in what I am doing?’. I am the same and I know how it feels. One day you are full of ideas and you work hard till you get it done, another day you have no mood and maybe thinking to give it up.

Last time I had such a period in my life I stumbled into new book ‘Big Magic’ by Elizabeth Gilbert who wrote ‘Eat.Pray.Love’. I put it to my ‘read list’ and forgot about it.  After a few reviews on Facebook I thought it was the time to sit down and read it. I had no expectations at all and was curious why it was so good.

Oh. My. God.

Now I have what is called a ‘book hangover’ – it’s when after you have read a book you continue thinking about it again and again, trying not to forget important ideas and eventually turning your notes into a blog post. I admire Elizabeth’s ability to deliver simple ideas so easily, so you feel like you are sitting with her at the kitchen and actually having a real conversation. It felt like she was talking directly to me answering all the questions I had in my mind and which I was afraid to ask loud.

5 main ideas I’ve learned and wanted to share with you:

  1. Fear is boring

So many of us don’t do what we really want because of the fear. Whether it’s an anticipation of a failure or criticism it can simply be paralyzing. You think you have no talent or you won’t be taken seriously, you are too old or too young to do something. Fears always make predictable and boring decisions and who wants to have such a life?

‘It seems to me that the less I fight my fear, the less it fights back.’

Acknowledge the fear, be friends but doesn’t let it make decisions. I’m afraid of heights and I jumped out of the plane from 4000 meters with a parachute. Scary, but so cool! If I didn’t just let it go, I wouldn’t have experienced indescribable feeling of free fall and ‘flying’ above the ground. I almost drowned at my first day in Bali and it was honestly the scariest hour in my life, but still went to the surfing class… And so on, and so on… Am I scared no one will like my writing and my photographs and therefore stop being creative? Absolutely not.

 

  1. Ideas are coming and leaving

‘I believe that inspiration will always try its best to work with you – but if you are not ready or available, it may indeed choose to leave you and to search for a different human collaborator.’

And it’s up to you to accept or let them go. If you are out of ideas or inspiration, the suggestion is simply to be more curious about the life around. Go travel, start a new hobby or just go out for a walk! I always get lots of ideas when walking to work or doing cardio. Sometimes I even can’t wait to go to the gym because I know I will come up with something new. But at the same it’s okay to let the idea go if you don’t have time for it or aspiration. Be sure that another one will come up tomorrow or next week.

  1. Nothing is original anymore, but it can be authentic.

It’s closely related to fears we have. I have. What stops lots of us is this voice in the head persuading us that nothing is original; everything has already been said, written or painted. Yes, it’s true. Probably nothing is original anymore, but it hasn’t been done by you. And it will be authentic after you have put your touch on it. Just do it.

  1. There is always a ‘shit sandwich’

 So the question is not so much “What are you passionate about?” The question is ‘What are you passionate enough about that you can endure the most disagreeable aspects of the work?’

I see a lot of people who wants to start the blog only because of recognition and perhaps income. But majority of them give up, because they are not ready for hard work. As Liz says, you are done before you start.

Another example of shit sandwich can be criticism from other about what you doing. Why are you doing this? Why are you taking a photo of the stairs? Why are you reading these tips from a person nobody knows about? Why are you writing? Are you an expert? You want to be a great writer/photographer/etc?

It’s inevitable. I have it as a rule not to take anything seriously from a person who hasn’t succeeded in the topic we are talking about. I want to keep doing what I’m doing, taking thousands of photographs, challenging myself writing in English and I’m ok with the shit sandwich that comes along.

  1. Perfection is unachievable and done is better than good.

‘We don’t have time for perfection. In any event, perfection is unachievable. The enemy of fun.  Perfectionism stops people from completing their work, yes – but even worse, it often stops people from beginning their work.’

First of all, how can you tell that something is perfect? Is there a checklist to follow or it’s just in your head? I’m very guilty in this … I would always think if I can’t do it perfectly then I won’t even try. I spent whole October in a lot of self doubts and self criticism so I couldn’t write anything. So wrong! Let’s just give up all the attempts to be perfect and be ourselves.

And finally, human being is a creative feature. Otherwise we wouldn’t have lived today.

Keep moving, keep going ∗

You can buy your copy of Big Magic on Amazon

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