Living a creative life can seem next to impossible, but according to bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert, it's a matter of hunting for "strange jewels" that the universe has buried inside each of us. They're there, but we have to be willing to put in the work to find them. It’s an interesting idea, one that makes me picture Disney’s Aladdin stumbling upon his magic lamp in the Cave of Wonders. Like Aladdin, we can find some incredible things. In fact, Gilbert calls the spoils of the search “Big Magic,” a concept which inspired her new book.
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear tackles how to live a creative life and overcome the fear it commonly inspires. Throughout, Gilbert frankly discusses both her successes and struggles, making the experience of reading her book a lot like that of sitting down with a close friend. (In fact, a glass of wine wouldn’t be a misstep.) She peppers her advice with humorous anecdotes, recounting charming and relevant tidbits from everyone from her tattooed neighbor to fellow writers like Ann Patchett and Brené Brown.
Over the course of Big Magic, Gilbert lays out what she sees as the "essential ingredients" for creativity and how to find overcome its numerous obstacles — many of which you may know all too well. Her guide is both engaging and practical, and she manages to inspire without being cliché.
Here are 13 quotes from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic that will help you say to hell with your fear and pursue your creative curiosities and passions:
On Overcoming Fear
- "So take your insecurities and your fears and hold them upside down by their ankles and shake yourself free of all your cumbersome ideas about what you require (and how much you need to pay) in order to become creatively legitimate."
- "This is a world, not a womb. You can look after yourself in this world while looking after your creativity at the same time — just as people have done for ages."
On Our Capacity For Creativity
- "You do not need anybody’s permission to live a creative life."
- "If you’re alive, you’re a creative person."
On Choosing Creativity
- "I told the universe (and anyone who would listen) that I was committed to living a creative life not in order to save the world, not as an act of protect, not to become famous, not to gain entrance to the canon, not to challenge the system, not to show the bastards, not to prove to my family that I was worthy, not as a form of deep therapeutic emotional catharsis … but simply because I liked it."
- "And since creativity is still the most effective way for me to access wonder, I choose it."
- "Ideas of every kind are constantly galloping toward us, constantly pass through us, constantly trying to get our attention."
- "Your own reasons to create are reason enough. Merely by pursuing what you love, you may inadvertently end up helping us plenty."
- "Seduce the Big Magic and it will always come back to you."
On The Benefits Of A Creative Life
- "A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life."
- "…it’s all kind of amazing—what we get to do, what we get to attempt, what we sometimes get to commune with."
- "Pure creativity is something better than a necessity; it’s a gift. It’s the frosting. Our creativity is a wild and unexpected bonus from the universe."
- "Through the mere act of creating something—anything—you might inadvertently produce work that is magnificent, eternal, or important."
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