Books We Love: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Reviewed by Rose David

You probably already know Elizabeth Gilbert from her memoirs and this inspiring TED talk. And honestly, who among us hasn’t lived vicariously through her for at least a moment while reading or watching Eat, Pray, Love?

In Big Magic, Gilbert takes on a pretty big fish — the mysterious ins and outs of the creative process.

Even if you don’t consider yourself an artist, being a business owner requires plenty of creative thinking, especially when you’re doing most of the work on your own. Whether you’re stuck in a rut and trying to figure out your next big venture, or you’re just looking to add some extra jet fuel to your usual routine, Big Magic is worth a read.

Things We Learned

Honor Your Reality, Wherever You Are

Gilbert stresses the importance of not “infantilizing” ourselves by pretending that our circumstances are different from what they are. At first blush, this sounds pretty depressing, but hear us out.

It does you no good to deny the reality of your situation. In an ideal world, you would be able to quit your day job and work full time on your business immediately, but for most of us, that just isn’t possible. It’s fine to daydream about what you’d like to have, but in order to make this dream a reality, we’re going to have to work inside the parameters we currently have.

If that means waking up an hour earlier on most mornings for some uninterrupted work time, then so be it. Honor your reality, don’t fight against it.


Can I Have a Bite of That $h!t Sandwich?

Your work should be a gift and a joy, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t totally suck sometimes. Even if you love your business with all your heart, there will be days (and some very, very late nights) in which you’ll just want to throw in the towel. And that’s okay.

The key here is to really consider whether you love this work enough to deal with the hard times or, as Gilbert puts it, whether you’re okay with occasionally eating the BLEEP sandwich.

Being an entrepreneur is very rarely easy. Sometimes, we can’t avoid a tough day, but we can remind ourselves that the hard times are worth it.


Just Keep Moving

After the success of Eat, Pray, Love, Gilbert fell into a massive creative slump. All the pressure made it difficult for her to become inspired the way she had before. While most of us don’t know what it’s like to be played by Julia Roberts, we can all relate to that feeling of aimlessness and fatigue when it seems like inspiration will never hit us again.

At that point, rather than stare forlornly at the keyboard all day, Gilbert started gardening. To her surprise, it was a strangely inspiring activity. Over time, she began imagining the world of her next book, all because she threw herself wholeheartedly into a new hobby.

It just goes to show that our next big idea can come to us at any time, as long as we’re open and receptive and willing to just keep our hands moving.

Favorite Quote

Creativity is a crushing chore and a glorious mystery. The work wants to be made, and it wants to be made through you.

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