Elizabeth Gilbert has been writing short stories, novels and nonfiction for over two decades. She is best known for her 2006 memoir Eat, Pray, Love which has sold over 10 million copies worldwide and was adapted into a feature film. Her latest book, Big Magic, provides her accumulated wisdom on how to approach the creative process with fearlessness and persistence.
Fear is important.
Life is scary, but fear is boring. That doesn’t mean all fear is bad. Fear is necessary to prevent stupid, reckless actions. But bad fear will hold you back. Both fear and creativity should be passengers on your creative journey, but fear should stick to the backseat.
You will fail.
You will fail and fail often. Sometimes you have to move on from a project and trust the right one will take it’s place. Sometimes you have to endure a hundred rejections before you get one acceptance. Rejection is a crucial part of the process for everyone.
Make a vow with your creativity.
If you honor your muse, more likely than not it will reward you in return. Better yet, have an affair with your creativity. Consistency is great, but if you really want Big Magic to occur you must be passionate about your art. You should want to sneak in time for it as much as possible — just as you would find time for a passionate love affair.
Don’t force Big Magic.
Muses come and go. Sometimes the voodoo will hit and you will find yourself in a creative trance. Big Magic has struck. However, you just can’t sit around and wait for magic to hit. You must keep steadily producing if you want to convince your genius you’re worth its time.
Do not quit your day job.
You must be okay with your creative passion being a vocation rather than a career. If you’re only in it for the money, you’re going to end up bitter — and likely dropping out of your selected creative field.
No one is going to give you permission but yourself.
Arrogance has a negative connotation, but in the creative world it can be a good thing. Unless you go to school for your craft — and even if you do — no one is going to give you a “permission slip” to be a creator. You must believe that you are entitled to create, no matter the number of rejections or setbacks you face.
Be a trickster, not a martyr.
Too often artists fall into the trap of thinking they must suffer for their art. Those are the martyrs. Tricksters, on the other hand, approach the chaos of the universe lightly. They trust that whatever the universe throws back at them will work. Instead of getting caught up in their despair and anxiety, tricksters sneaks by quietly accomplishing their work.