By: Hayley Green
Now, I know I may be a little bit late on reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, considering it came out three years ago. I also never read her book Eat, Pray, Love, which I need to rectify. But what made me finally pick up Big Magic was a recommendation by several trusted friends.
Her book details her beliefs on “living a creative life.” It is split up into sections and each section is filled with short anecdotes from her life, as well as her musings on what these stories mean for her life. It is written in an engaging and humorous way that is easy to read and pick up where you left off, even months later.
I should know — I multi-read. Between going to school and having a job, I started this book when I couldn’t read for hours at a time. I am sad to say I neglected this book. But every time I came back to it, it never failed to inspire me.
I have a short list of books that I turn to when I feel bogged down and unable to write my stories. They are usually reference books that state different methods for writing. Big Magic is different in so many ways to those books, but it has made the list. After reading through a couple short stories, I found it hard to decide between stopping to write my own stories or to keep reading.
But this book isn’t just meant for writers. It is meant for any kind of creativity, and she lets the definition be whatever it means to you. Sure, she mentions writing a lot, but that is simply because it is her chosen route of creativity.
Gilbert will inspire you to get over the mental roadblocks in your way to use your creativity. And she’ll encourage you not to do it for money, fame, or any of those other reasons that you may have. She’ll encourage you to do it for you. Because you want to. Because it’s fun. Because of your dreams and aspirations. It may be hard work sometimes, but as Gilbert argues, it’s the journey and the being able to say “I persevered” that makes it all worth it.
She mentions living authentically and what that means to her. She has funny theories on creative ideas having a life of their own that sounds hairbrained at first, but end up making a lot of sense if you have ever experienced something similar. And I have experienced something extremely similar to her experience with Ann Patchett. I won’t include any spoilers here, but I will say this: ideas do have a life of their own.
This book is both inspirational, laugh-out-loud funny, and an offer of great advice. I would recommend it to anyone who is, was, or wants to be an artist no matter your age, job, or whatever is going on in your life. It’s on my read-again list (which I rarely do, so that should say something), and in my opinion is a must read for anyone struggling with their chosen art.
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