This post is also available in: Deutsch (German)
Do you know the types of books you read and then years later you still remember bits of it? It only happens rarely these days. Most of the time I forget half the content or even the whole storyline, and then, if I happen to read the book again, it’s almost as if I’ve never read it in the first place (with crimes I often can’t even recall who the murderer was).
The more surprised I am when years after I’ve read a book, certain aspects still remain utterly present to me. Just like it happened with the book “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert.
I listened to this book as an audiobook for the first time about 3 years ago and just happened to reread it again recently. And yet many of the topics were still at the forefront of my mind.
It talks about how we can lead happy, artistic, and creative lives. By no means, this book is not only for those people who think of themselves as artists. All humans benefit from regular artistic activity. It can take many different forms: writing, painting, cooking, gardening, making music, dancing, crafting scents, acting, etc.
Of course, we can’t force anyone to create or make art. But I truly believe that it’s a fundamental step in finding your path back to your inner child, and also creating more joy in your 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”
Ideas find you
What touched my heart the most when I listened to the book for the first time 3 years ago was the chapter on how humans encounter ideas. Because the truth is that ideas find us.
Imagine ideas as little invisible, sentient beings or light energies that are floating around looking for a person to manifest them into reality. In order for ideas to find us, we have to be receiving and open to them. If you’re busy and stressed out all day, ideas won’t come knocking on your door. Some ideas are patient and will keep waiting until you’ve cleared your mind. Others might keep moving more quickly.
It might even happen that an idea leaves you again once you’ve already begun working on it because you’ve taken too long of a break. This actually happened to Liz herself, whose friend had unknowingly written a book so similar to one Liz had started to work on but then hit the snooze button on. The story was so similar, even in the smallest nuances.
I love this concept of a living idea that finds us, and it feels true in many ways.
Artists do not have to suffer
One aspect that Liz keeps emphasizing throughout the book is that making art does not equal having to suffer.
We often recall the stereotypical image of the drunk or depressed artist – the one that creates magnificent things and yet suffers throughout their whole life. Art does not have to be like that. The truth is that some artists in a depressed state manage to create art DESPITE their suffering. Not BECAUSE of it.
“In the end, creativity is a gift to the creator, not just a gift to the audience.“
No fear of rejection or failure
“Big Magic” offers many concepts and techniques to foster the process of creating art freely without an expectation or particular result in mind.
The most important thing about creating art is doing it for the joy of it. That should always be the main reason.
But it’s also important that you consciously make time for art every day, that you don’t become too perfectionist, and that you stick with it.
„Learning how to endure your disappointment and frustration IS part of the job as a creative person. (…) Holding yourself together through all the phases of creation is where the real work lies.“
A book recommendation from the heart
The book also teaches you techniques on what to do when you’re lost on ideas, how to always make time for art in your daily routine, how to let go of perfection, and how to create art from a place of financial independence.
In my opinion, Big Magic is a must-read for all of us. I truly believe that artistic expression is extremely important for humans. Liz describes creativity like a hyperactive border collie. If your creative mind doesn’t have anything meaningful to do, it’ll start destroying things. And in the same way, when there’s nothing to do, our mind will begin to talk us into having problems, question relationships and destroy friendships.
„If I’m not actively creating something, then I am probably actively destroying something.“
Therefore, it’s all the more important that we are open to the plentiful, floating ideas that are looking for an owner. Not because of what we are gifting to the world by realising them. But because of what the idea we adopt will be gifting to us.