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.

So far, we’ve discussed the first two parts of Big Magic:

We’re still only about half-way through this short book, so there’s plenty of time for you to join the Read Along — 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.

This week, we’re discussing Part III, Permission.

How does the perceived need for permission hamper your creativity?

I tend to fret about whether my work does good in the world. That’s a heavy burden to put on creativity. It makes me feel like I can’t do anything until I’ve determined its grand purpose and have some guarantee that I can fulfill that grand purpose. Since guarantees are in short supply when it comes to creativity, I have a hard time making things happen.

What would it take to feel like you have the permission you need to be as creative as you want to be?

I was encouraged by Elizabeth Gilbert’s advice to be creative simply because that’s what humans do, because we like it. She believes that taking creativity too seriously is a good way to chase off inspiration.

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 protest, 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. (p. 118)

With that approach, she gets these results:

Best of all, though, by saying that you delight in your work, you will draw inspiration near. Inspiration will be grateful to hear those words coming out of your mouth, because inspiration—like all of us—appreciates being appreciated. Inspiration will overhear your pleasure, and it will send ideas to your door as a reward for your enthusiasm and your loyalty.

More ideas than you could ever use.

Enough ideas for ten lifetimes. (p. 119)

Which quotes from Big Magic worked best for you as permission slips to be creative?

It’s okay if your work is fun for you, is what I’m saying. It’s also okay if your work is healing for you, or fascinating for you, or redemptive for you, or if it’s maybe just a hobby that keeps you from going crazy. It’s even okay if your work is totally frivolous. That’s allowed. It’s all allowed. (pp. 100-101)

And this quote for dealing with rejection and haters:

If people enjoy what you’ve created, terrific. If people ignore what you’ve created, too bad. If people misunderstand what you’ve created, don’t sweat it. And what if people absolutely hate what you’ve created? What if people attack you with savage vitriol, and insult your intelligence, and malign your motives, and drag your good name through the mud?

Just smile sweetly and suggest—as politely as you possibly can—that they make their own fucking art.

Then stubbornly continue making yours. (p. 125)

What are you stubbornly going to make today? I’m going to make a plan. That might not sound creative to you, but it’s one of things I love the most. It’s like time-travel to the future.


Permission for Creativity from Big Magic #ReadAlong — 2 Comments

  1. This book was such a surprise to me, and I like that. The author flipped my ideas of creativity on its little pointed head. Hope you are enjoying it, too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *