Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

Reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert is a great way to get my New Year off to creative start! Join me for a Read Along. This week, we’re discussing Part 1, Courage. That section is only 27 pages long, so jump right in if you have the book already. And, there’s plenty of time to catch up with us if you want to get your hands on the book — we’re taking the whole month of January.

Share your thoughts on your blog and post it on the link list below, or on tomorrow’s list that’s about progress on the New Year’s Resolution Reading Challenge. Or, simply share your experience in the comments.

Elizabeth Gilbert has a reading guide (pdf) for Big Magic on her website. I used the Courage section of that guide to formulate this post about Courage and Creativity.

Can you think of a time that you were courageous in your creative life? 

Going to Cuba on a photography tour was courageous. I’m a fledgling at both photography and international travel. I was going with a group of strangers, many of whom were more experienced photographers and travelers than me. Cuba is an exotic destination for an American, forbidden for most of my life. Tropical locations have scary bugs, water, and diseases.

What did that look like for me? 

It looked like saying “yes” to an opportunity that seemed too exciting to pass up.  And, pushing past all the objections stated above that said “maybe not.”

The Malecón sea wall, Havana, Cuba

The Malecón sea wall, Havana, Cuba with Morro Castle in the background

How did I feel?

I felt fear, but, I used “fake it ‘til I make it” to get me to excitement and enthusiasm.

That’s a very helpful observation to me. If I can find enthusiasm in myself (and, I usually can if I try), that’s my best tool for moving beyond fear.

Kitchen in Vedado house, Havana, Cuba

Portrait of two photographers and a spiral staircase (in the kitchen of the Vedado house)

What inspired me to be courageous? 

I was inspired by a some positive feedback on my photographs, received during a class taught by the photographer who led the trip to Cuba.

That’s a helpful observation for me, too, but in a more negative way. I need a more reliable source of inspiration that doesn’t count on other people paying attention to my efforts all of the time, because they don’t. I imagine future parts of Big Magic will help me with that.

I want to keep working on creative courage because this is what I want in my 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. Living in this manner—continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you—is a fine art, in and of itself. (p. 12)

Wall in Vedado, Havana, Cuba

Garden wall of Havana house

The trip to Cuba definitely made 2015 interesting. Let’s see what 2016 has in store for me! How does creativity make your life more interesting?


Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert #ReadAlong — 8 Comments

  1. I did not realize you went to Cuba with a group of “strangers” – in my book, that is very courageous!

    I am starting to adopt the motto, “Fake it til you make it” with regards to writing. I feel inept and way behind (I didn’t even realize I enjoyed writing until I was near 50 years old) … but I want to persevere and see what all I can accomplish.

  2. Big Magic made it onto my Best Books Read in 2015 list. (And if Barbara from several comments above is reading this, I wasn’t a big Elizabeth Gilbert fan before reading this book.) Loved it — and it is definitely a great choice to start a new year with.

    Your Cuba adventure sounds exciting!

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