What I learnt about creative living from reading 'Big Magic'...again!
"A creative life is a life amplified" Elizabeth Gilbert.
So if you aren't aware, I often do 'Book club' blog posts on the stuff I'm reading. I did one on 'Big Magic' by Elizabeth Gilbert ages ago. Not gonna lie, I initially bought the book because one of my favourite YouTubers, Kalyn Nicholson recommended it. In fact, many of my books came from her recommendations and I must credit her with opening up a new love of reading because prior to watching her channel, I had never read non-fiction especially personal development books.
Admittedly, the first time I read 'Big Magic' I didn't really rate it. I thought that it would be more of a how-to guide in terms of unlocking your creativity and living a creative life. I didn't overall dislike the book, but I didn't overall like it either. This was my second time reading it, so this time, I thought I'd equip myself with a highlighter and note any aspects that really stood out and resonated with me.
So here goes:
Firstly, I like how she defines creative living as "Living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear." I like to consider myself a pretty creative person and initially thought that the existence I had created was an example of 'creative living'. But when I look at my life against this definition, I feel that a lot of what I do and think and feel is driven by fear. Fear of failure, of rejection, of having worked hard and having nothing to show for it. This definitely challenged we to ponder, how can I be more curious and less fear-driven?
She talked about a friend, Susan who decided to take up figure skating later in life and noted that "Susan is still figure skating several mornings a week- simply because skating is still the best way for her to unfold certain beauty and transcendence within her life that she cannot seem to access in any other manner." This challenged me to think about what do I do simply because I enjoy it, not for any other reason?
When I first started my blog, YouTube and Instagram, it was simply because I liked writing, taking photos and making videos. In a society that is so driven by success, I need to remember, that even if those things don't create a following or any financial gain, they do things for me emotionally and intellectually that is way more important. Elizabeth Gilbert figured this out for herself when she said "No way was I going to give up on my work simply because it wasn't 'working'. That wasn't the point of it. The rewards could not come from external results."
I remember once, I put up a blog post that someone didn't like. I had talked about my experience with a certain company/product and shared my honest, yet respectful opinion. I had never had a hater before, but this chick, who I knew, was personally offended and kept at me about how my options were unwanted and unnecessary. But she was wrong. In this day and age, your opinion, experience and creative expression is so important. Not everyone will like it and not everyone has to, but that doesn't mean you should stop creating because of it. This paragraph from 'Big Magic' sums it up nicely:
"I'll tell you who I am. I am a child of God, just like everyone else. I am a constituent of the universe. I have invisible spirit benefactors who believe in me and who labour along side me. The fact that I am here is all the evidence that I have the right to be here. I have a right to my own voice and a right to my own vision. I have a right to collaborate with creativity, because I myself am a product and consequence of creation. I'm on a mission of artistic liberation, so let the girl go."
So I started creating, and I loved it. But then I was told that no one is going to care about what I crate unless it helps them in some way. So I became stuck. What if what I was interested in or what I had to say wasn't really helpful? Gilbert says, "Your own reasons to create are reason enough. Merely by pursuing what you love, you may inadvertently end up helping us plenty."
I've learnt that it's important for me to create, but also that I mustn't put too much stock in what I create. I must be happy for it to fail, to reach no one, to be boring or exciting or popular. I mustn't worry about what others say or think about my art because at the end of the day, it's not for them, it's for me and the praise or criticism they give me is none of my business. Gilbert quotes W.C.Fiels "It ain't what they call you, it's what you answer to" and adds on "Actully, don't even bother answering. Just keep doing your thing."
There was a bunch of other lines that I highlighted for their importance, but I guess that the main takeaway for me is, stick to your 'why', don't be afraid to put things down or pivot. Live life with creative expression for you, not for others. The act of creating is important but don't place too much significance on the product, you need to be able to make it and walk away and not let perfectionism stop you from putting your work out to the world.