Big Magic Book Review:
We all want to be creative with our work, don’t we? We all like to imagine ourselves sitting in a serene place with a cup of hot tea/coffee while creating the most creative work in our field as if we are the chosen ones.
In fact, this imaginary definition of creativity has gone so viral that we have made an agreement with ourselves that ‘creativity is for chosen ones, not for people like ‘me’
If that sounds familiar to you, I will be your best friend then because I had a belief that I can’t be creative. The reason why I used to think so was because growing up I was being told that creativity is for intelligent people, and as I was a ‘dumb-ass’, I knew it’s not for me.
However, my definition of creativity came crashing down when I read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.
Allow me to introduce you with Elizabeth’s definition of creativity and an ancient technique of attracting creativity towards you.
What is Creativity?
In Elizabeth’s words, ‘Creativity is the relationship between human being and the mysteries of inspiration’
Now, you must be thinking what does it really mean, right? Let me explain it to you.
We have a misconception that creativity is a personality trait or some kind of intelligence that we are blessed with. Well, it’s not true, luckily.
Creativity means having an idea that can challenge or change what is already available in the world. You must agree with me here that creativity is nothing but a unique idea that comes out of nowhere and inspires us to do things differently. In fact, the whole fuss in the world is only about producing something different, something that is not there already or maybe a better version of an idea, right?
If we go by the society’s definition of creativity, it means that only blessed/intelligent people can be creative. But what we have just discussed reveals that creativity is not a personality trait that stays with you for eternity but rather an idea that can knock anyone’s door and make them do creative work.
But the question here is, If creativity is really an idea and can come to anyone then why don’t it come to us? You and I are praying for that idea or for that inspiration so that we can create something unique, don’t we?
Well, the reason why we are not able to attract those unique ideas is because we make two mistakes:
- We think creativity is a gift that is not for us.
- We think we can be creative at any moment we want or rather 24/7
- We will discuss how you can be creative even if you don’t pass the eligibility criteria of society further in the article. But before that, please know that you can’t be creative 24/7 or as per your wish simply because you are not a robot/machine. You are a human, and creative blockage is a part of the process.
However, creative blockage shouldn’t mean that you stop working.
How You Can Get Creative Ideas For Your Work:
Ideas, what comes to mind when you hear this word?
I will go first.
A sudden thought that comes out of nowhere in your mind and makes you feel butterflies inside your body (no only in your belly but in your head too). We believe that ideas are nothing but our thoughts and we are smart if we get such creative thoughts, right?
From here on, I am taking you to a creative world of ideas and inspiration. And as per this creative world, the definition of ideas goes like this:
Ideas are alive, that ideas do seek the most available human collaborator, that ideas do have a conscious will, that ideas do move from soul to soul, that ideas will always try to seek the swiftest and most efficient conduit to the earth believe that inspiration will always try its best to work with you — but if you are not ready or available, it may indeed choose to leave you and to search for a different human collaborator.
If that sounded a little confusing or alien language to you, let me simplify it for you.
Elizabeth says that ideas go door to door from one person to another to help them create something creative with your work. And when a person, let’s say you, don’t execute that idea or don’t show as much excitement as you should then the similar idea goes to another person until the idea is really executed.
Now, you must be thinking this is rubbish and it doesn’t make sense. Trust me, I had a similar reaction when I read this in the book. But when I read further explanations and a real life example of Elizabeth, I was surprised or rather shocked.
Elizabeth’s personal example: The author, Elizabeth has written several books. And once she got an idea about a book which was about a girl who loved her married boss and for his sake goes to the Amazon river for an investigation. Elizabeth was quite excited about the project and even had started writing the book until one day she got busy with some other important things. She began writing the same story around 2 years later but after that her excitement, enthusiasm and love for the similar story vanished in thin air and she stopped working on it.
However, as we discussed, the idea doesn’t stop wandering until it’s executed by someone.
Years later, Elizabeth met Ann Patchett at a function. Both of them became friends and after a few months, Ann Patchett wrote to Elizabeth that she was working on a story which was exactly similar to Elizabeth’s story that she stopped working on. There were only a few insignificant differences but the theme, story, character, place and everything else was the same.
Ann Patchett worked on the novel and now the idea that first came to Elizabeth then Ann is known as State of wonder book by Ann Patchett.
Surprising, isn’t it?
To me it was but the reality is,
When an idea thinks it has found somebody — say, you — who might be able to bring it into the world, the idea will pay you a visit. It will try to get your attention. Mostly, you will not notice. This is likely because you’re so consumed by your own dramas, anxieties, distractions, insecurities, and duties that you aren’t receptive to inspiration. You might miss the signal because you’re watching TV, or shopping, or brooding over how angry you are at somebody, or pondering your failures and mistakes, or just generally really busy.
The idea will try to wave you down (perhaps for a few moments; perhaps for a few months; perhaps even for a few years), but when it finally realizes that you’re oblivious to its message, it will move on to someone else.
But sometimes — rarely, but magnificently — there comes a day when you’re open and relaxed enough to actually receive something. Your defenses might slacken and your anxieties might ease, and then magic can slip through. The idea, sensing your openness, will start to do its work on you. It will send the universal physical and emotional signals of inspiration (the chills up the arms, the hair standing up on the back of the neck, the nervous stomach, the buzzy thoughts, that feeling of falling into love or obsession). The idea will organize coincidences and portents to tumble across your path, to keep your interest keen. You will start to notice all sorts of signs pointing you toward the idea. Everything you see and touch and do will remind you of the idea. The idea will wake you up in the middle of the night and distract you from your everyday routine. The idea will not leave you alone until it has your fullest attention.
And then, in a quiet moment, it will ask, “Do you want to work with me?”
Proof of This Mystery of Idea?
If you are someone who wants the proof for this mystery of the Universe, I have just told you the story of Elizabeth. What happened with Elizabeth wasn’t a coincidence. In fact, it happens all the time. We think of an idea, we keep planning about it, we forget about it and then someone else executes and then we feel cheated. It has happened with me and I am sure it must have happened with you too.
However, just to be clear, Elizabeth didn’t feel cheated because she never told her book story to anyone and she knew very well about this little secret of the universe.
I know some people call it bluffing but the reality is,
“Something unknown is doing we don’t know what”Big Magic Book
And that something can’t be explained in words, it can only be felt.
I can’t explain the force of inspiration that I can neither see, nor prove, nor command, nor understand as Elizabeth says.
What you need to remember is, when you get an idea which will happen most often, you must execute it because the idea will find someone else.
Keep in mind: “There is only the stubbornness of the idea itself, refusing to stop searching until it has found an equally stubborn collaborator. (Or multiple collaborators, as the case may be.”
However, there is one question that bothered me even when I wholeheartedly agreed on the mystery of the universe.
My question was: Why did Elizabeth get an idea about an unique story that can be published. I mean she could have gotten an idea about designing an airplane or an app. It was quite confusing for me and that’s when I realize before we start getting such unique ideas, we must do this:
Align Your Passion With The Secret Of Universe:
In order to receive such ideas, you have to follow the steps mentioned below:
1. Take A Vow:
I read this in a book that, ‘universe is ready to provide you anything you can dream of but before universe grants you that, you must know what you want’. You must be very clear with your desires and then focus entirely on it so that your energy and vibes align with Universe’s.’
For example: Elizabeth took a vow that says, “I want to be a writer and I will keep writing Universe”
This is the reason why Elizabeth got the idea about books and not app building.
Your first task is to take a vow. Tell yourself and the Universe what you truly want to be. If you are confused and want to be a writer today and a singer tomorrow then this article isn’t for you.
I take a vow, ‘I want to be a writer and I will keep writing and I will never doubt on my skills”
2. Prove Your Words:
Taking a vow then sitting on your chair waiting for the idea is something what a fool would do. Because if it was so easy, everyone would have done that.
In order to prove the Universe that you are serious and you truly like your work, you have to take action. For example: As I said that I want to be a writer (I didn’t say it out loud even in my heart till now), I have to show up daily, I have to write daily and I must enjoy the process.
When you say, ‘Ohh I don’t like my work, it’s too hectic’, you push away inspiration. And that’s the condition with most of us, we all feel tired and dead at our work. This can be one of the reasons why normal people end up living as midcore employees whereas some exceptional people own the stage.
Exceptional people don’t fear inspiration, they love their work. It can get hectic for them too but they find joy in it.
“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.”
3. Start A Love Affair:
Before you throw tomatoes on my face, let me clarify that I don’t mean cheating on your partner and starting a love affair. I mean, start a love affair with your work.
Let’s say that you want to be a singer and you can’t leave your day job because it feeds you and your family. In such a case, instead of making excuses why you can’t practice singing, start a love affair.
Let yourself fall in love with your creativity like that and see what happens. Stop treating your creativity like it’s a tired, old, unhappy marriage (a grind, a drag) and start regarding it with the fresh eyes of a passionate lover. Even if you have only fifteen minutes a day in a stairwell alone with your creativity, take it.
Go hide in that stairwell and make out with your art! (You can get a lot of making out done in fifteen minutes, as any furtive teenager can tell you.) Sneak off and have an affair with your most creative self. Lie to everyone about where you’re actually going on your lunch break. Pretend you’re traveling on a business trip when secretly you’re retreating in order to paint, or to write poetry, or to draw up the plans for your future organic mushroom farm. Conceal it from your family and friends, whatever it is you’re up to. Slip away from everyone else at the party and go off to dance alone with your ideas in the dark. Wake yourself up in the middle of the night in order to be alone with your inspiration, while nobody is watching. You don’t need that sleep right now; you can give it up. What else are you willing to give up in order to be alone with your beloved?
Don’t think of it all as burdensome; think of it all as sexy.Big Magic Book
Fun fact: This is the true and only love affair in my life at least.
Creativity is not a gift to those who are intelligent, in fact, it’s a result of constant love with your work.
Note: I didn’t say hard work, I said constant love because creativity has nothing to do with hard work. As we discussed earlier, there is a difference between those lifeless common employees and people like ‘Elon Musk, Shakespeare, Elizabeth Gilbert and possibly ‘future’ YOU.
All you need to remember is that
“The idea wants to be manifested and it wants to be manifested through you.”
You have to be aware enough to recognize the idea and enthusiastic enough to execute the idea.
Be aware, be in love, and believe!
You can check my review on Seth Godin’s book on creativity, The Practice here.
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