As my many subscribers will know (Hi Mom and Dad), I haven’t posted anything on my blog for more than three years. This is what happened: I was putting so much pressure on myself to write the perfect blog post that writing for my blog wasn’t fun anymore. I had turned a fun hobby into a chore.
Then, two years ago, I started writing a young adult novel (as many a blogger does). Not only did I have less time to blog but after discovering how difficult it is to write a book, I stopped reviewing books. Doubt had crept in and I thought who am I to review and critique books? They should all get five stars (or five dragonflies) for being finished.
I completed my novel (more about that another time) and realised that I missed writing for my blog. I wanted to start blogging again but was worried that I’d be so focused on perfection that I’d turn it into a chore (again). That changed when I read Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert and came across this quote:
I realised that my reviews don’t need to be flawless or perfect, they just need to be done.
Now, I’m back and excited to be blogging again. Read more about the new direction the blog is taking in the About section.
Finding your creativity
Back to Big Magic. You’ve probably heard the name Elizabeth Gilbert before, she’s the author of Eat, Pray, Love (the movie version stars Julia Roberts). While Eat, Pray, Love is about finding yourself, Big Magic is about finding your creativity.
Gilbert explains how she became a writer through anecdotes from her own life, from her friends and people that have inspired her. The book has a conversational tone and it feels like you’re talking to a free-spirited friend.
The way Gilbert looks at writing is unique. She explains that she believes that stories are out there waiting to be told and that they latch on to those who are willing to tell them. While this idea might be too New-Agey for some, I like the idea that stories choose us. It can be a motivating way to look at writing. If the story chose you, you must tell it the best way you can, or it might move on to someone else who will.
In Big Magic, Gilbert urges artists (of any kind) to move beyond their excuses to live a creative life.
Not all magic and fairy dust
While the book inspired me, there were a few things that I didn’t agree with.
- Don’t waste money on grad school. Gilbert advises young artists not to waste money on grad school. And, while I do think you can be successful writer without a formal education, it’s important to know the rules before you can break them.
- Date your muse. I did enjoy most of Gilbert’s anecdotes, but some were a little too far out for me. She shares the story about an artist whose muse had left him and to try and win her back, he dressed up to go on a date with his creativity. I’m not so sure that my creativity will be seduced by red lipstick and a slit skirt.
- Writing and art are the most useless jobs in the world. I can see why Gilbert says this, she tries to encourage anxiety-ridden people (like me) to be creative. She’s trying to take the pressure off by saying that writers and artists are not like brain surgeons. It’s not life or death. This may be the case, but we don’t need a best-selling novelist telling us that writing is useless. There are already enough people who think that art is unimportant (just look at the salaries for creative jobs), we don’t need one more.
Charmed by Big Magic
While I didn’t agree with everything in the book, Big Magic still provides some good advice. Gilbert urges people to find ways to be more creative in their everyday life. Find something you enjoy and do it without worrying about where it could lead. I read Big Magic at exactly the right time and although some sections were a bit cheesy, I still enjoyed it. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to live a creative life.