In this book summary of Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, you’ll find my notes, valuable lessons, and important action steps.
Big Magic Summary
Behind all creativity is the critical question do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you. People are hoping and counting that you do. Please bring them into the world!
The goal to produce creative work isn’t to be fearless, because that’s reckless and crazy. Anytime you do creative work your mind will also feel fear because the result is unknown. So when you learn to let your creativity and fear coexist then you green light your ability to create in a healthy manner.
Ideas will come and go for you to say no or yes to depending on your gut feeling about it. You’ll do your best work when you cooperate fully with inspiration and its mysteries, whether it works with you or you choose to faithfully let it go.
“You do not need anyone’s permission to live a creative life.” It’s your birthright to make any kind of creative art you imagine for the sake of just doing it. Keeping this in mind will help you live a creative life.
If what holds you back is the thought that your work wouldn’t be original since someone else has already done it then consider this, “Most things have already been done—but they have not yet been done by you.” Aim to be authentic, not original.
The real difficult work as a creative is not the bursts of inspiration, it’s the moments when things aren’t coming naturally and easy but you stay committed and persevere until you find that next moment where it doesn’t feel like work to be creative.
If you want to ensure your creative work remains free and safe, then keep your day job until you’re guarantee you can live off of your creative work. Too many people put the pressure on their creative work to pay the bills and then go bankrupt or kill their creativity.
“Done is better than good.” Make this note a habit you replay in your mind to put out more work.
Trust that your creative work loves you as much as you love it. It’s a reciprocal relationship since this inspiration came looking for you and needs you to get out in the world. That’ll help you look at your work as love instead of suffering. (This mindset will also improve your quality of life.)
Seek curiosity over passion if you want to live a creative life. Passion comes and goes randomly. But you can choose to follow tiny curiosities and see where they lead.
“Creativity is sacred, and it is not sacred. What we make matters enormously, and it doesn’t matter at all.We toil alone, and we are accompanied by spirits.We are terrified, and we are brave.Art is a crushing chore and a wonderful privilege. Only when we are at our most playful can divinity finally get serious with us.“
Get comfortable enough with your fears so that they only remind you what you’re doing is important and so they don’t get in the way of you creating art or following your passion. Let your fears and passion coexist, not go to war against each other.
Just give yourself permission to start already without overthinking and ruining it for yourself before you begin. Creating in the beginning with no expectations of being amazing is how you get good in the future. Everyone starts from somewhere small, so it’s ok if you do too.
Perfectionism is the silent murderer of all creative work that whispers you and your work is not good enough. Relieve yourself of it by taking care of yourself or you’ll never find your inner treasurers to share with the world and yourself.
Three Favorite Quotes
“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.”
“Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.”
“You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures.”
Action Steps For You
Like many of these book summaries on personal development, at the core is this idea that you need to give yourself permission to be creative.
So if you know in your heart of hearts that you’re fixed on being a pianist, writer, singer, poet, painter, actor, etc., then you must sneak in time each day to act on it. Love yourself by letting yourself pursue this.
Who cares if people don’t support you? Why bother if you might fail? That’s part of life.
Regardless of the odds of success or how much money you’ll make doing it, it’s a misfortune for you and the world if you don’t share spend the time to bring out your talents and see what comes of it.
Instead, make a promise to always follow your creative passion and when you stick to it, you’ll get the reward from what you become in the process.
It’s better to treat your fixation on this like a love affair where you sneak time in each day to pursue it.
The reason to live a creative life is not about external rewards and material conquests, but about working on your craft by being persistent with daily activity.
For example, the author of this book, Elizabeth Gilbert, made a promise to write every single day in her twenties (sometimes for as little as 30 minutes) and she fulfilled this commitment.
She worked side jobs to support herself before her writing could a decade later. But she never stopped creating. And during that time ideas came and left her, until she found the right ones that inspired her to bring them to live, like her world-famous book Eat, Pray, Love.
Also, creating work doesn’t have to be stressful. Keep that in mind and stick with your day job until it’s absolutely certain your creative outlet can support your lifestyle.
When you don’t put pressure on your creativity, your creative love stays with you the rest of your life. But too much pressure and expectations can cripple your creativity before it has a chance to fly.
What’s your action step? Give yourself permission to create big magic.
Order Big Magic
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