Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic is one that has been in my sights for a long time. Aside from having a beautiful, eye-poppingly bright cover, it was also heavily recommended to me by a friend, so I decided it was finally time to get myself a copy!
And I am seriously so glad that I did! As a creative person, this book was everything I’d hoped it would be: inspiring, engaging and deeply insightful. I can’t say I was completely sold on every theory within this book, but on the whole I found it to be a really interesting read, and would definitely be giving it 4.5/5 stars in a review.
However, I decided against simply reviewing this book. To me it demanded something a little different, a little more ‘creative’, as it were, so I thought I would share a few of my favourite quotes from the book, and my own thoughts on creativity. These are just the quotes that I felt were the most inspiring and that resonated the most with me personally, but I can’t urge you enough to read this book! Depending upon your own creative journey I can guarantee different parts will speak to you in different ways, and you will find yourself relating to different parts.
So here goes! These are a few of my favourite quotes from Big Magic:
- ‘The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.’
Although I can’t really get behind the idea of the universe itself somehow doling out creativity, I like the idea that everyone has something inside of them, a story that only they could tell, just waiting to be brought forth. It’s a universal fact that we can only ever view the world through out own eyes, and whilst sometimes that’s a very lonely thought to think that we are essentially alone in our own consciousness, it’s also incredible, because it makes us entirely unique. Those ‘strange jewels’ hidden inside us all are the culmination of our own unique life experiences and feelings, and I love the idea that it’s in everyone: we all have the potential to create something that is purely us, something no one else could create, and that’s why I think this quote is so beautiful.
- ‘Creative living is a path for the brave. We all know this. And we all know that when courage dies, creativity dies with it.’
One of the things that intrigued me so much about this book was the subtitle ‘Creative Living Beyond Fear’. It drew me in because I related to it; creativity is wonderful but frightening. Creativity is making a manifestation of who you are inside which you not only have to face yourself, but also have to present to the world for criticism, so of course it’s terrifying! But this is definitely the book for you if you have ever felt like that, because Gilbert really does show you how to let go of that fear and be unafraid to create, and how to be brave enough to truly embrace a creative life.
- ‘Pure creativity is magnificent expressly because it is the opposite of everything else in life that’s essential or inescapable (food, shelter…). Pure creativity is something better than necessity; it’s a gift. It’s the frosting.’
One of the things I loved so much in this book about Gilbert’s perception on creativity is how she doesn’t take it too seriously. I don’t mean she isn’t passionate about it, or doesn’t really care about it, because you only have to read the book to know how big of a journey her and creativity have been on, and how passionate she is about it. I simply mean that she doesn’t see it as this sacred thing that is vital to life – she isn’t a dramatic ‘I must write or I shall die!” kind of writer (you know the sort!). I love this quote because it really does put it into perspective. Creativity isn’t essential to our survival, it’s an incredible luxury that we have because our world has advanced to the stage where we no longer need to worry too much about living out the day, or having enough food to tide us over the winter. It’s amazing, and wonderful, and fulfilling, and life-enriching, but not essential, and this is something I’m going to try and remember next time I have writer’s block – it’s not the end of the world! Not writing for a day will not kill me!
- ‘If you choose to go the other way, though (if you choose to trust suffering over love), be aware that you are building your house upon a battlefield. And when so many people treat their creative process as a war zone, is it any wonder there are such severe casualties?’
One of the sections I particularly enjoyed in the book was about the idea of the ‘tortured artist’, or the commonly held idea that to be a creative person you have to have suffered. This particularly struck me because I have always hated that idea, and I have certainly met a fair amount of people who have subscribed to this theory. My Creative Writing class at university for example was full of tortured artists in the making: I remember once we were all asked to write a Christmas themed story starting ‘It was the night before Christmas…’ and whilst I wrote a nice funny tale about a cat and a Christmas tree, literally everyone else wrote about things like Christmas trees going up in flames and burning the entire family alive, and serial killer Santas. Even the teacher looked pretty frightened! Whilst creativity often does plumb the very depths of our souls, it doesn’t have to, and you certainly don’t have to write about dark things, or have suffered a terrible life of depression, addiction or abuse to be a ‘legitimate’ creative, and this is something that Gilbert goes into in depth in Big Magic.
- ‘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.’
Whilst creativity isn’t essential to our survival, I definitely think it’s beneficial to our souls, and certainly enriches our lives. I wouldn’t die if I couldn’t read books or write stories, but I wouldn’t be nearly as happy or fulfilled without it, and I think that’s probably one of the biggest things I’ll take away from Big Magic. A creative life really is an amplified life in my opinion, and that’s a life I intend to live!
So have you read Big Magic? What did you think? What are your thoughts on creativity?