Remember when I talked about the voice of a reader on audio book recordings being an art? Well Elizabeth Gilbert is an artist. Listening to the audiobook recording of Big Magic, I felt like Gilbert was the creative writing professor I never had but always wanted (needed?). Debunking creative living as something that can only be attained by "some" people, Gilbert gives a down to earth account for how to actually go about living a creative life, and unleashing all those sparkling inner truths we've long been holding on to - arguing that the world is better with them out there in it. After reading, I'm inclined to agree.
As a genre, Big Magic is as much as memoir as it is a self-help book. Taking us through her journey living a creative life, discussing what inspires and motivates her, Gilbert paints a vivid portrait of her daily life as a writer, and what that life looks like over years spent dedicated, with discipline, to her craft.
Big Magic simultaneously lifts up creative living as a means of living a more soulful and fulfilled existence, giving into our creative drives, while also bringing creative living back into terms that are achievable and as simple as just doing what it is that we love because we love it.
Gilbert encourages us to do what makes us happy, regardless of the end result. The story of the woman who became an expert in Mesopotamia because it gave her pleasure gives me goosebumps; I'm tickled to think of her sitting at her leisure after her day job, learning all about the rise of that first civilization; becoming such an authority on the subject, that scholars and academics now seek her out for her expertise.
Big Magic was just the boost I needed to find the courage to unlock my inner truths, begging to be let out and mixed in the ether of thoughts and ideas, and it might be for you too. I'd recommend Big Magic to anyone that thinks they need permission or convincing to live a more creative life - I found this book to be the magical but practical motivation I needed to continue, like Gilbert, day after day at my desk, showing inspiration that I'm ready and willing to receive her.
These are three ways of approaching writing that I took away from Big Magic that I've incorporated into my process that have helped me:
1. Record yourself or have your friends record you: Gilbert ells the story of the woman who had a hard time capturing her voice by trying to write her stories down first. Trying something new, she asked her friends to join her for a retreat away on the coast, on her, to write down her stories as she told them orally. Through this process, she constructed her work to completion! And in doing so, was able to capture her authentic voice. Since reading this, whenever I get stuck writing something, I record myself on my phone trying to tell it orally. This breaks me out of my funk and gets me back into my groove.
2. Share your work with others: I read my stuff to my husband. He's super supportive and gives great feedback. I talk about my process with my mom and she gives me great advice and ideas. I'm fortunate to have the readership of my banshees, whose support motivates me to keep writing. Sharing your work with others gives it stake, but more importantly, it helps you grow and will make your work all the richer.
3. Let go over your ego: This was the most helpful advice I took away from Gilbert. Allowing myself to get caught up in my own head, I disable my creative energies by focusing on how my work might be perceived, liked or interpreted, instead of treating writing as a gift to myself - something that gives me pleasure and challenges me at the same time. Don't get caught up in the 'what if's' - think instead of the 'what-could-be's.'