First of all, I think this book came into my life at just the right time. It’s not that Gilbert’s advice in Big Magic is anything particularly new to me, it’s just that I needed a reminder and here it is: Creativity is tricky. Creativity involves failing. Creativity involves what some of us call magic.
Look, if you’re a cynic, if you don’t like Liz Gilbert, if you don’t believe in failing, if you don’t like some new-agey woo woo in your talks about creativity, stop reading this recommendation and don’t read this book. But if you’re okay with some woo woo, and you need a loving reminder that you’re in league with your own creative soul already, please read this. Better yet, do what I did and get it on audiobook.
Gilbert has a great voice for reading her own work. She’s kind sounding, her vocal inflection is on point and you can tell she believes what she’s saying. I suppose some of the stuff she says might sound kooky to some folks, but again, if you don’t want to read a treatise on creativity that’s infused with emotion and a bit of cheerleading, this isn’t for you.
You see, this isn’t exactly a how-to, step-by-step guide to “living creatively beyond fear” so much as a well organized dump of what Liz Gilbert has been thinking about creativity and writing all along. As a writer and all around creative, I think a lot of this in my own head, a lot of the time. But there’s something about having someone else talk about how they think “ideas” work that’s compelling, or hear someone else’s stories about intuitive moments, or how they understand their own creative nature that makes a creative feel a little less alone.
I loved listening to Gilbert talk about the way fear leaks into your creative process, and how to negotiate with fear, since it’s nearly impossible to banish. I liked hearing her say that she doesn’t think that it’s necessary to be miserable to be an artist, that maybe we are more productive when we practice self-care. And I’ll admit that as someone who got an MA instead of and MFA, I was a little relieved feeling when she said you don’t need one to be a good writer.
But if I had to boil it all down to one reason I think you should read this book (or listen to it!) it’s this: the Big Magic of the creative process is you and if you let her in, Gilbert can remind you all the reasons why you’re invested in your creativity in the first place.
Basically, if you’re a creative who’s been feeling a little stuck lately, this might be just the right book for you — if you’ve already read this and you need something else, try Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott.