I’m a fan of courageous people who are also writers. And I’d say that Elizabeth Gilbert is one of them.
Many of you know her from her 2006 bestseller, Eat Pray Love which chronicled her healing journey from divorce while visiting Italy, India and Bali.
(I also loved Gilbert’s not as widely read follow-up memoir, Committed: A Love Story. I’ve even used this collection of essays on marriage in my pre-marital counseling sessions!)
And this is what I want to tell you today . . .
One of the best books I’ve read in 2015 hands down is Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.
As I continue to navigate the ups and downs of my relationship to the creative, I feel I couldn’t have discovered this book at a better time.
For from the first couple of chapters, it’s clear that Gilbert is serious.
She slams down all of the good excuses we offer instead of creating.
You’re afraid you have no talent. You’re afraid you’ll be rejected or criticized or ridiculed or misunderstood or—worst of all—ignored. You’re afraid there’s no market for your creativity, and therefore no point in pursuing it. You’re afraid somebody else already did it better. You’re afraid everybody else already did it better. You’re afraid somebody will steal your ideas, so it’s safer to keep them hidden forever in the dark. You’re afraid that someday you’ll look back on your creative endeavors as having been a giant waste of time, effort, and money. You’re afraid you don’t have the right kind of discipline.
The bottom line is all of these excuses are fear-based.
Gilbert then suggests an alternative. Just do it.
So not giving into fear, we do something about that essay, that book project, that painting, that garden, that wood carving, or that song that is in us and longing to get out and bless the world!
On page 89 she writes, “Are you considering becoming a creative person? Too late, you already are one. To even call someone ‘a creative person’ is almost laughably redundant; creativity is the hallmark of our species. . . . If you are alive, you’re a creative person.”
So this is the word:
Write: even if your book never gets published.
Cook fancy dinners: even if your family is the only ones to taste it.
Plant flowers: even if no one else appreciates it.
Do the creative work for the love of the work itself, Gilbert says.
Throw out the idea that you don’t have time.
Drawing upon the metaphor of being in love for the first time– remembering how two lovers steal away any moment they can get to be together– Gilbert says honor your creative soul in the same way. We all have little pockets in our day. Indulge ourselves. Create!
People ask me all the time, how it is that I keep up this blog. How do I have time? How do I have things to say? How do I make the posts happen?
The real answer is simple. I just do it.
I can’t not write. I can’t not blog. I can’t not share what I experience with you, my beloved audience. So because it’s this important to me, then I always have time to write.
I hoard moments on airplanes. I hoard moments right before I go to bed. I hoard moments when I’m in between appointments. Sometimes Kevin looks over at me on the computer with that focused stare and asks, “Are you blogging again?” Of course, I am!
For several years ago, I decided to say yes to creativity.
Even if I wasn’t the best writer in a line-up. Even if I hit publish on a post full of typos sometimes (or maybe a lot). Even if nobody ever read what I offered. When inspiration came, I would do something about it.
It was a scary decision, yes. It has changed my daily patterns, yes. But it’s a choice I’ve never regretted. Because I am a creative person. And I must create. And my SOUL THANKS ME every day.
So what are you working on? I’d love to hear. Post a comment or send me an email. We’ve got to encourage each other.