Hello friends. This post is a collection of quotes from the book - Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Whether you are looking to write a book, make art, or simply infuse your everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.
While the paths and outcomes of creative living will vary wildly from person to person, I can guarantee you this: 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.
Your life is short and rare and amazing and miraculous, and you want to do really interesting things and make really interesting things while you're still here. I know that's what you want for yourself, because that's what I want for myself, too.
You have treasures hidden within you - extraordinary treasures - and so do I, and so does everyone around us. And bringing those treasures to light takes work and faith and focus and courage and hours of devotion, and the clock is ticking, and the world is spinning, and we simply do not have time anymore to think so small.
I believe that our planet is inhabited not only by animals and plants and bacteria and viruses, but also by ideas. Ideas are a disembodied, energetic life-form. They are completely separate from us, but capable of interacting with us - albeit strangely. Ideas have no material body, but they do have consciousness, and they most certainly have will. Ideas are driven by a single impulse: to be made manifest. And the only way an idea can be made manifest in our world is through collaboration with a human partner. It is only through a human's efforts that an idea can be escorted out of the ether and into the realm of the actual.
Most of all, be ready. Keep your eyes open. Listen. Follow your curiosity. Ask questions. Sniff around. Remain open. Trust in the miraculous truth that new and marvelous ideas are looking for human collaborators every single day. Ideas of every kind are constantly galloping toward us, constantly passing through us, constantly trying to get our attention.
My genius - wherever it comes from - does not keep regular hours. My genius, for what he is worth, does not work on human time and he certainly doesn't arrange his schedule around my convenience. [...] Sometimes I grope around in the dark, desperately looking for magical creative stimulus, and all I come up with is something that feels like a damp washcloth. And then suddenly - whoosh! - inspiration arrives, out of the clear blue sky. And then - whoosh! - it is gone again.
All I know for certain is that this is how I want to spend my life - collaborating to the best of my ability with forces of inspiration that I can neither see, nor prove, nor command, nor understand.
The older I get, the less impressed I become with originality. These days, I'm far more moved by authenticity. Attempts at originality can often feel forced and precious, but authenticity has quiet resonance that never fails to stir me.
Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart. The rest of it will take care of itself.
Work hard, make the most of your opportunities, and grow, grow, grow.
The sooner and more passionately you get married to this idea - that it is ultimately entirely up to you - the better off you'll be.
I have dedicated my entire life to the pursuit of creativity, and I spend a lot of time encouraging other people to do the same, because I think a creative life is the most marvelous life there is.
Our creativity is a wild and unexpected bonus from the universe. It's as if all our gods and angels gathered together and said, "It's tough down there as a human being, we know. Here - have some delights."
Everybody imitates before they can innovate.
I had never asked writing to be easy; I had only asked writing to be interesting. And it was always interesting to me. Even when I couldn't do it right, it was still interesting to me. It still interests me. Nothing has ever interested me more. That profound sense of interest kept me working, even as I had no tangible successes. And slowly I improved. It's a simple and generous rule of life that whatever you practice, you will improve at.
Your education isn't over when they say it's over; your education is over when you say it's over.
You don't just get to leap from bright moment to bright moment. How you manage yourself between those bright moments, when things aren't going so great, is a measure of how devoted you are to your vocation, and how equipped you are for the weird demands of creative living. Holding yourself together through all the phases of creation is where the real work lies.
Most individuals have never had enough time, and they've never had enough resources, and they've never had enough support or patronage or reward ... and yet still they persist in creating. They persist because they care. They persist because they are called to be makers, by any means necessary.
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.
We don't have time for perfect. In any event, perfection is unachievable: It's a myth and a trap and a hamster wheel that will run you to death.
Perfectionism stops people from completing their work, yes - but even worse, it often stops people from beginning their work. Perfectionists often decide in advance that the end product is never going to be satisfactory, so they don't even bother trying to be creative in the first place.
I think perfectionism is just a high-end, haute couture version of fear. I think perfectionism is just fear in fancy shoes and a mink coat, pretending to be elegant when actually it's just terrified. Because underneath that shiny veneer, perfectionism is nothing more than a deep existential angst that says, again and again, "I am not good enough and I will never be good enough."
We must understand that the drive for perfectionism is a corrosive waste of time, because nothing is ever beyond criticism. No matter how many hours you spend attempting to render something flawless, somebody will always be able to find fault with it. At some point, you really just have to finish your work and release it as is - if only so that you can go on to make other things with a glad and determined heart. Which is the entire point. Or should be.
Possessing a creative mind, after all, is something like having a border collie for a pet: It needs to work, or else it will cause you an outrageous amount of trouble. Give your mind a job to do, or else it will find a job to do, and you might not like the job it invents.
Do what you love to do, and do it with both seriousness and lightness. At least then you will know that you have tried and that - whatever the outcome - you have traveled a noble path.
This is how it feels to lead the faithful creative life: You try and try and try, and nothing works. But you keep trying, and you keep seeking, and then sometimes, in the least expected place and time, it finally happens.
What you produce is not necessarily always sacred, just because you think it's sacred. What is sacred is the time that you spend working on the project, and what that time does to expand your imagination, and what that expanded imagination does to transform your life.
Your creative work is not your baby; if anything, you are its baby. Everything I have ever written has brought me into being. Every project has matured me in a different way. I am who I am today precisely because of what I have made and what it has made me into.
Do not let your ego totally run the show, or it will shut down the show. Your ego is a wonderful servant, but it's a terrible master - because the only thing your ego ever wants is reward, reward, and more reward. And since there's never enough reward to satisfy, your ego will always be disappointed. Left unmanaged, that kind of disappointment will rot you from the inside out.
Whatever you do, try not to dwell too long on your failures. You don't need to conduct autopsies on your disasters. You don't need to know what anything means. [...] Own your disappointment, acknowledge it for what it is, and move on. Chop up that failure and use it for bait to try to catch another project. Someday it might all make sense to you - why you needed to go through this botched-up mess in order to land in a better place. Or maybe it will never make sense.