When I was a new blogger I thought I would never run out of ideas. I think that’s the reason why most of us start blogging- because we have ideas. That’s great! Whether you are inspired by fashion, food, finances, or fob watches, we are all lucky to have the opportunity to write about the things that excite us. Feeling inspired is simply wonderful, but in case you haven’t figured it our yet, inspiration doesn’t happen all the time.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched bloggers bust out three posts a week while I’m still trying to think of a single idea. The wealth of inspiration I thought I had soon dried up. The ideas just weren’t coming.
Then I read “Big Magic” and everything changed. I love a good inspirational book, but this book completely blew away my expectations. I hadn’t even gotten to the 3rd page and I was already near tears. Immediately I could see how this book would not only help me in theatre, but blogging as well. In fact, I think this book could help everybody.
What is “Big Magic”?
Author Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) describes Big Magic as the relationship between a human being and the mysteries of inspiration. In other terms, it means creativity. The book is divided into 7 brilliant sections: Courage, Enchantment, Permission, Persistence, Trust, and Divinity. These chapters serve as a guide to creative living beyond fear, which is the ultimate goal for Elizabeth Gilbert and anyone who reads her book.
Liz (I always called her Liz when I was reading this book 🙂 ) fills the pages of Big Magic with stories of her own struggles and triumphs in her personal journey to creative living. She has gathered a multitude of vivid examples in a stunning narrative that will leave everyone feeling inspired. Big Magic is nothing if not empowering to the creative soul. I could go on and on, but I think it’s best if I just tell you the most important things I took away from the book.
Top 5 Things I Learned
My perspective on inspiration has certainly shifted because of this book. What I love most is that Big Magic doesn’t just give you inspiration, it teaches you how to use it. I cannot express how full this book is of ideas, so I narrowed it down to the most impactful things that I took away from it.
1. Fear is not needed
Who among us does not have some degree of fear? I believe that bloggers have their own special brand of fear. Fear of not reaching our goals, fear of criticism, fear of taking a risk, or fear of investment. However, living a creative life doesn’t leave any room for fear in our work.
“I also realized that my fear was boring because it was identical to everyone else’s fear. I figured out that every one’s song of fear has exactly that same tedious lyric: ‘STOP, STOP, STOP,STOP!'”
We are tied down by fear. It is the force that compels us to behave like everyone else and avoid taking creative risks. The sooner you learn to let go of fear, the sooner you will feel more at ease and more pleased with the work you have done!
2. Education does not always equal creativity
I am pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, however, Liz allowed me to see that achieving my degree is not the key to my life as an artist. Like many other creative souls, I enjoy studying something I love and I can see how it will benefit me. However, I have now chosen not to let the weight of my future fall on the education I am getting now.
“…I worry that what students of the arts are often seeking in higher education is nothing more than proof of their own legitimacy- proof that they are for real a creative people, because their degree says so.”
I’m glad she said it because somebody had to! I see people every day in my department that need to be reminded that school does not have the final say in their futures.
I think bloggers are an excellent testament to this idea. I mean, have you ever heard of someone getting a degree in blogging? No. Yet people are continually succeeding in this field without a specific diploma. Your past experiences and your creative vision are all the education you need.
3. You need to give yourself permission
If you think a diploma is the only thing that can give you permission to be creative, think again. People like to look for permission from their family, their friends, their schedule, their career, or even their past experiences when the only person that can allow you to be creative is you. The best way to write your own permission slip is to embrace the idea of creative entitlement.
“Creative entitlement doesn’t mean acting like a princess, or acting as though the world owes you anything whatsoever. No, creative entitlement means believing that you are allowed to be here, and that -merely by being here- you are allowed to have a voice and a vision of your own.”
I think creative entitlement is a struggle for most bloggers at some point in their career. When you compare yourself with other bloggers who have been going at it for twice as long and seem to have 10x the traffic, your sense of belonging can be skewed. Learning to find permission from creative entitlement means that you are content with expressing your own voice no matter how loud it may be.
Related: Why Everybody Should Be A Diva
4. Don’t make your creative works support you
I believe many bloggers share this focus! Who doesn’t want to earn a little cash from all the work you pour into your blog? As college students, it can be especially appealing to have your blog pay your rent. I think we would all rather work at home than work in a cafeteria. However, our dear friend Liz says to be cautious about this.
“There is no dishonor in having a job. What is dishonorable is scaring away your creativity by demanding that it pay for your entire existence.”
Of course, making money off of your blog isn’t a bad goal to have. You just can’t expect it to be a genie in a bottle that grants all your wishes. The moment it becomes more of a job than a source for creativity, our inspiration suffers.
5. The back-door creative method
“Einstein called this tactic ‘combinatory play’ -the act of opening up one mental channel by dabbling in another. This is why he would often play the violin when he was having diffuculty solving a mathematical puzzle; after a few hours of sonatas, he could usually find the answer he needed.”
This is perhaps the most impactful message I have taken away from this book. Liz provides several examples of this “back-door-creative-method” as I like to call it. Ulterior creative methods can range anywhere from gardening to painting to playing ukulele to soap making. As bloggers, we cannot rely on our blogs as our only outlet for creativity. If we do, our creativity will suffer. Investing in other creative outlets has been nothing but a good experience for me and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to feel more creative! For myself, I have taken up playing guitar, word art, and even a little bit of watercolor. What I like best about these hobbies is that I haven’t put any pressure on myself to impress others. I am simply playing.
So Why Read It?
You are not a creative person because you are a blogger, you are a blogger because you are a creative person! You will be most happy when you abandon fear and embrace the creative gifts you have been given. Even if you are not a blogger, I would totally still recommend this book. Why? Because everybody can live a creative life in some way! Personally, I found that this book was exactly what I needed to invite inspiration into my life and embrace my creativity.
I hope this was helpful and inspiring for you! Have you read Big Magic? If so, I want to hear what you thought about it! What are some other inspirational books that you would recommend? I am always looking for new suggestions. 🙂