Review: ‘Big Magic’ by Elizabeth Gilbert

“Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?” (8)

Big Magic book coverI’ve been avoiding my passion for writing for a while. It was always easy to pin the blame on classes, on the paper, on internships — you name it. I was writing, but it was never me seeking out writing when I had I had the time. And I never made the time; not really. So what better way to round off my book challenge than to read Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.”

In her latest book, which was published in September, Gilbert digs into her creative process to share her wisdom and perspective on creativity. She writes about embracing curiosity, letting go of suffering, tackling what we love and facing our fears. The book doesn’t address only writers — Gilbert wrote it for anyone looking to make art, find new ways to address challenges in work, embark on a dream long deferred or infuse our lives with more passion.

After reading “Big Magic,” I realized that I do want to get back to writing, particularly creative writing. I’d been avoiding it for so long that I didn’t think I had it in me. For so long, I had it in my head that I needed to live a tortured life (you know, your basic writer stereotypes) to be a writer. But Gilbert’s positive outlook for pursuing a creative life gave me the kick I needed.

“The arrogance of belonging is not about egotism or self-absorption. In a strange way, it’s the opposite; it is a divine force that will actually take you out of yourself and allow you to engage more fully with life. because often what keeps you from creative living is your self-absorption (your self-doubt, your self-disgust, your self-judgement, your crushing sense of self-protection). The arrogance of belonging pulls you out of the darkest depths of self-hatred — not by saying ‘I am the greatest!’ but merely by saying ‘I am here!’ ” (93)

What I loved about reading “Big Magic” was seeing what Gilbert’s creative process looks like, or how she sees creativity and inspiration. I’ve read three of her books, and the positivity and spirituality that Gilbert has for living a creative life came as no surprise. The book is called “Big Magic” after all. One thing that I noticed among all of her stories was that she never gave up on being a writer. Sure, there were ideas that didn’t come to fruition, rejection letter after rejection letter came, etc. But she stuck with it. It’s inspiring to read about her tenacity and her decision to be a writer and eat the “shit sandwich that comes with it” (150).

For anyone seeking to live a more creative life or needing a little magic to get back in the swing of things, “Big Magic” is a great place to start. I can’t wait to buy my own copy to add to my collection of books so I can pull it out and seek out comfort and inspiration.

“The essential ingredients for creativity remain exactly the same for everybody: courage, enchantment, permission, persistence, trust — and those elements are universally accessible. Which does not mean that creative living is always easy; it merely means that creative living is always possible.” (158)

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