Elizabeth Gilbert is a short story writer and novelist known for her bestselling book Eat, Pray, Love. Her latest book, Big Magic, is a must-read for anyone who is creative, has ever done anything creative or has ever had a passing thought about being creative. It will transform the way you think about life, hobbies and creativity. Here are 10 quotes from the book to inspire your creativity:
1. “If you’re alive, you’re a creative person.”
It's a common belief that, to be creative, you have to be born with a creative gene. This is completely untrue. There are so many ways to be creative in life, and we are all born with that gene. This is exactly what Gilbert encompasses in this quote.
2. “Do whatever brings you to life, then follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.”
This advice is not new, and has been said in every way imaginable because the message is so important. When you do something that makes you feel alive, your creative juices find it much easier to flow. Do more of what you want rather than what you feel you should do.
3. “Be the weirdo who dares to enjoy.”
Sometimes being the odd one out is no fun. People stare and make fun, and sometimes they can be very unkind. Stepping away from the crowd, though, and daring to do and see things differently, results in you seeing and experiencing the world in completely different and often more enjoyable ways. And, when you enjoy life, your creativity will show up more often.
4. “You're not required to save the world with your creativity. Your art not only doesn't have to be original; in other words, it also doesn't have to be important.”
Sometimes, we attach so much significance to the things we do—especially when it comes to being creative—that our ideas and ultimately the final outcome have to be extraordinary. We feel that the product of our creativity has to move people, make money, lead to a promotion or generate a huge income. This puts enormous pressure on us and our creativity. Remember, it's okay to flex your creative muscles just for the fun of it, with no specific or preconceived outcome.
5. “Recognizing that people's reactions don't belong to you is the only sane way to create. If people enjoy what you've created, terrific. If people ignore what you've created, too bad. If people misunderstand what you've created, don't sweat it. And what if people absolutely hate what you've created? What if people attack you with savage vitriol, and insult your intelligence, and malign your motives, and drag your good name through the mud? Just smile sweetly and suggest – as politely as you possibly can – that they go make their own fucking art. Then stubbornly continue making yours.”
When we put an idea out into the world, we are personally attached to it. So, when someone criticizes it or it is not received in the way that we hoped or expected, it can hurt. However, it's important not to let the opinions of others dictate our creative pursuits. This can be difficult in a society where trolling is prevalent, but do not let this stop you from investing in your creativity.
6. “While the paths and outcomes of creative living will vary wildly from person to person, I can guarantee you this: A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life.”
Maybe you'll never make any money from your creative ideas, and maybe they'll never bring you fame, but embracing your creativity will give you a more interesting and expanded life. You may meet new people, discover new places and you could even improve your health.
7. “It’s a simple and generous rule of life that whatever you practice, you will improve at.”
Many of us try our hand at something creative and find that although it interests us and, for the most part we enjoy it, we are not actually very good at it, so we quit. We forget that to improve we must practice regularly and consistently and that the more time we invest, the greater the improvement will be. Creativity is a journey and one that requires an investment of time and energy.
8. “Creativity is sacred, and it is not sacred. What we make matters enormously, and it doesn’t matter at all. We toil alone, and we are accompanied by spirits. We are terrified, and we are brave. Art is a crushing chore and a wonderful privilege. Only when we are at our most playful can divinity finally get serious with us. Make space for all these paradoxes to be equally true inside your soul, and I promise—you can make anything.”
Some people can be intense about their creativity, which can stifle their work. Embracing your creativity will take you on an emotional rollercoaster, but it's important to recognize that it's all part of the process. It doesn't mean that your skills or ideas are not good enough, and it most certainly is not a reason to quit. Once you understand that this is what it means to live a creative life, you can stop judging yourself, your journey and your emotions, and you can simply create.
9. “Done is better than good.”
The curse of perfectionism is rife when it comes to creativity. It is probably the main reason why many amazing and life changing ideas never see the light of day. Perfection does not exist—not least because the measure of perfection varies from person to person, but also because you will never meet your own idea of perfection. You will always see or think of something that can be improved upon because we are our own worse critics! Focus on getting things done well, rather than on things being perfect.
10. “You do not need anybody’s permission to live a creative life.”
Too many people never embrace their creative gene because they didn't do well at art, don't play a musical instrument or find poetry boring. We live in a society that closely links creativity to the traditional arts, and if we've not been told or acknowledged as being talented in these areas, we feel we don't have the ability, or worse, the right to be creative.
The fact is that creativity is hugely misunderstood. If your friends come to you when they have problems because they know you always give practical advice, you are creative. You can see solutions where others cannot. Whether you enjoy baking cupcakes, coding or attending murder mystery nights, you don't need an excuse to do it. Your life is yours to live, and your creative gene is yours to use in any way you choose.
These 10 quotes are just a taste of the brilliance available in Big Magic. Elizabeth Gilbert has done a wonderful job of not only illustrating how anyone can access their creative gene, but also provides plenty of inspiration based on her own experience.
It doesn't end there. She also has a podcast called Magic Lessons where she continues exploring the topic of creativity and the ideas she discusses in the book. Her guests include experts such as Brene Brown and ordinary people who are struggling with creativity in their lives.
Read the book and check out the podcast, but more importantly explore, indulge in and play with your creativity—and, of course, please share your own creativity tips.