Book Review: Big Magic

Book No. 5: Big Magic
Author: Elizabeth Gilbert

Big Picture

It’s the ultimate pep talk for the creative you that lies within; that’s the best way I can summarize this book. And I don’t mean that it’s meant for the aspiring writer, painter, musician, etc., although each one of them can certainly benefit from reading this book. Rather, it is meant for ALL human beings, because everyone has a creative side!

Filled with anecdotes from her life, the book is inspiring, humorous (even laugh out loud funny at times), agreeable and at times, disagreeable. It’s the type of book you will want to go back to at several points in your life, moments when you’re not quite “there” and need a little push to keep marching forward. Its the book that helps you realize you are more than just what you (or anyone else) thinks you are. There is creativity inside of you that wants to explore, and you must allow it to do so. Its a book that reminds you that it is not creativity’s job to earn you an income; do not put that burden on it. It helps you understand how inspiration works by giving it independence in a way you’ve perhaps never thought of.

As you’ll see below I found myself bookmarking quite a bit of the book.

Big Takeaway

This book doesn’t tell you how to become a writer/painter/musician/actor or how to become a creative person. This book tells you that you already ARE a creative person and it is essential to your being that you indulge in it, for FUN!

Inspiration and fear are two things that Gilbert focuses on a lot throughout the book. She does not dismiss one over the other; she allows both to play their dutiful part in her mind. She acknowledges and accepts that they must both co-exist; she gives both the respect they deserve to do what they were made to do. But that ultimately it is, SHE, Elizabeth Gilbert, who gets to makes the final call. The way in which she discusses inspiration and fear is both strange, funny and incredibly effective. By giving both inspiration and fear their sense of belonging, she is able to react to both in the most cognizant way.

Favorite Quotes

“I believe that enjoying your work with all your heart is the only truly subversive position left to take as a creative person these days. It’s such a gangster move because hardly anybody ever dares to speak of creative enjoyment allowed, for fear of not being taken seriously as an artist. So say it. Be the weirdo who dares to enjoy.”

“Best of all though, by saying that you delight in your work, you will draw inspiration near. Inspiration will be grateful to hear those words coming out of your mouth because inspiration like all of us appreciates being appreciated. Inspiration will overhear your pleasure and it will send ideas to your door as a reward for your enthusiasm and your loyalty. More ideas than you could ever use. Enough ideas for ten lifetimes.”

“But never delude yourself to believing that you require someone else’s blessing or even their comprehension in order to make your own creative work. And always remember that people’s judgments about you are none of your business.”

“Learning how to endure your disappointment and frustrations is part of the job of a creative person.”

“Handling your frustration is a fundamental of the work, perhaps the single most fundamental aspect of the work. Frustration is not an interruption of your process, frustration is the process.”

“You don’t just get to leap from bright moment to bright moment. How you manage yourself between those bright moments, when things aren’t going so great, is a measure how devoted you are to your vocation and how equipped you are through the weird demands of creative living.:

“If you truly want to see the world, you’ll risk getting pic-pocketed on a train.”

“…I never wanted to burden my writing with the responsibility of paying for my life. I knew better than to ask this of my writing because over the years I have watched so many other people murder their creativity by demanding that their art pay the bills.”

“People don’t do these kinds of thing because they have all kinds of extra time and energy for it. They do this kind of thing because their creativity matters to them enough that they are willing to make all kinds of extra sacrifices for it. Unless you come from landed gentry, that’s what everyone does.”

“You must learn how to become a deeply disciplined half-ass. It starts by forgetting about perfect, you don’t have time for perfect. In any event, perfection is unachievable. It’s a myth, and a trap, and a hamster wheel that will run you to death.”

“But you won’t be completely free until you reach your 60s and 70s when you finally realize this liberating truth: nobody was ever thinking about you anyhow, they aren’t, they weren’t, they never were. People are mostly thinking about themselves.”

“What you produce is not necessarily always sacred I realized, just because you think it’s sacred. What is sacred is the time that you spent working on the project and what that time does to expand your imagination and what that expanded imagination does to transform your life. The more lightly you can pass that time, the brighter your existence becomes.”

“In other words, if you can’t do what you long to do, go do something else.”

“…failure has a function. It asks you whether you really want to go on making things.”

“What would you do even if you knew that you might very well fail? What do you love doing so much that the words failure and success essentially become irrelevant? What do you love even more than you love your own ego?”


Everyone should read this, plain and simple. If nothing else, you will have SOMETHING to say about it. And if you do not have time to read, then have Elizabeth Gilbert read it to you, on audible.

Until the next book, Happy Reading!




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