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It’s Magic

Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear was published in 2015. Admittedly, when I first tried to read it, I didn’t get very far. But when I was assigned the book for the last module of Creatively Made Business, I decided to listen to the audio version. It was brilliant. Hearing Elizabeth’s gently wry voice was empowering and at times gut wrenching. I loved it. So much so that I bought the paperback version at my local bookstore so I could pick out my favorite parts.

So here are some excerpts of Big Magic that really resonated with me.

From Your Permission Slip

You don’t need anyone’s permission to lead a creative life.

You want to write a book? Make a song? Direct a movie? Decorate pottery? Learn a dance? Explore a new land? You want to draw a penis on your wall? Do it. Who cares? It’s your birthright as a human being, so do it with a cheerful heart. (I mean, take it seriously, but don’t take it seriously.) Let inspiration lead you wherever it wants to lead you. Keep in mind that for most of history people just made things, and they didn’t make such a big freaking deal out of it.

From Entitlement

Creative entitlement doesn’t mean behaving like a princess, or acting as though the world owes you anything whatsoever. No, creative entitlement simply means believing that you are allowed to be here, and that—merely by being here—you are allowed to have a voice and a vision of your own.

...Defending yourself as a creative person begins by defining yourself. It begins when you declare your intent. Stand up tall and say it aloud, whatever it is:

I’m a writer.

I’m a singer.

I’m an actor.

I’m a gardener.

I’m a dancer.

I’m an inventor.

I’m a photographer.

I’m a chef.

I’m a designer.

I am this, and I am that, and I am also this other thing, too!

I don’t yet know exactly what I am, but I’m curious enough to go find out!

From Fun House Mirrors

...Recognizing this reality—that the reaction {to your creations} doesn’t belong to you—is the only sane way to create. If people enjoy what you’ve created, terrific. If people ignore what you’ve created, too bad. If people misunderstand what you’ve created, don’t sweat it. And what if people absolutely hate what you’ve created? What if people attack you with savage vitriol, and insult your intelligence, and malign your motives, and drag your good name through the mud?

Just smile sweetly and suggest—as politely as you possibly can—that they go make their own fucking art.

Then stubbornly continue making yours.

From Fear in High Heels

The image of the tragic artist who lays down his tools rather than fall short of his impeccable ideals holds no romance for me. I don’t see this path as heroic. I think it’s far more honorable to stay in the game—even if you’re objectively failing at the game—than to excuse yourself because of your delicate sensibilities. But in order to stay in the game, you must let go of your fantasy of perfection.

...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.

...Bring forth what is in you, then, whether it succeeds or fails. Do it whether the final product (your souvenir) is crap or gold. Do it whether the critics love you or hate you—or whether the critics have never heard of you and perhaps never will hear of you. Do it whether people get it or don’t get it. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s all just an instinct and an experiment and a mystery, so begin. Begin anywhere. Preferably right now.

And this following chapter. Well, I wanted to share the whole thing with you. But space issues don’t allow me to do that, so you’ll have to read or listen to the whole thing yourselves.

From Fierce Trust

The final—and sometimes most difficult—act of creative trust is to put your work out there into the world once you have completed it.

The trust that I’m talking about here is the fiercest trust of all. This is not a trust that says “ I am certain I will be a success”—because that is not fierce trust; that is innocent trust, and I am asking you to put aside your innocence for a moment and to step into something far more bracing and far more powerful. As I have said, and as we all know deep in our hearts, there is no guarantee of success in creative realms. Not for you, not for me, not for anyone. Not now, not ever. Will you put forth your work anyhow?

...Fierce trust asks that you stay strong within this truth: “You are worthy, dear one, regardless of the outcome. You will keep making your work, regardless of the outcome. You will keep sharing your work, regardless of the outcome. You were born to create, regardless of the outcome. You will never lose trust in the creative process, even when you don’t understand the outcome.

...What do you love so much that the words failure and success become irrelevant?

What do you love even more than you love your own ego?

How fierce is your trust in that love?

You might challenge this idea of fierce trust. You might buck against it. You might want to punch and kick at it. You might demand of it, “Why should I go through all the trouble to make something if the outcome might be nothing?”

The answer will usually come with a wicked trickster grin: “Because it’s fun, isn’t it?”

Thanks Elizabeth Gilbert.

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