Elizabeth Gilbert’s foray into the world of self-help was an easy transition. She did, after all, write one of the most successful ‘sabbatical’ books of all time in Eat, Pray, Love.
While clichéd at times (what self help book isn’t), Big Magic is really just solid encouragement to any person with creative notions to pursue them in spite of everything. Time constraints? Fear of failure or rejection? Worried it won’t be good enough? All of those be damned. Just do it, she says.
But do it for the right reasons. For you. Do not assume your creativity is going to pay your bills. If it winds up doing so, wonderful. Even though it is more likely it won’t, that shouldn’t stop you.
What most people don’t realize is that Gilbert had three published novels that were well received before she broke the bank with Eat, Pray, Love. It was only after the success of that book that she actually quit her day job.
Instead of being a tortured artist, Gilbert wants you to pursue your creativity to completion as you would a love affair. Finishing your creative project is the key, and all it needs to be is good enough. Since there is no “arts emergency” and you won’t be stoned to death for your creativity, what is the worst that can happen? It doesn’t become a colossal commercial success? So what? Your creativity should be pursued for YOU, not for others, and you shouldn’t even have others in mind when you’re doing it.
She weaves great anecdotal stories from her own experiences and those of other artists in between her advice. She uses catchy phrases like “rejecting the cult of artistic martyrdom” and “the song of the disciplined half ass” to bring her points home. She’s both storyteller and teacher.
This is a quick, easy read and a good kick in the pants for anyone who just can’t quite figure out how to channel their own artistic ideas. So, with Gilbert’s blessing, go out and be creative! Quit making excuses and don’t set expectations. Do it because you want to and because it makes you feel good.
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Elizabeth's rating: 4 stars