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Book Review - Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

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What better way to start off this brand new blog than with a book review! Those of you who know me (and those who don't, hi!) know that I adore books. The bookshelves in my home are always stuffed to the brim, and my library card gets a healthy workout each week. I recently checked out Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love fame. The book jacket is absolutely gorgeous, and it helped whet the appetite in advance of the book's launch last month:



The cover art was created by award-winning art director Helen Yentus, who also designed the jacket for Eat, Pray, Love. Isn't it fantastic? It evokes all the colorful excitement that the book inspires when discussing creativity.

Liz Gilbert's memoirs are always very colloquial, and this book has that same voice. The words have the ease of a chat with a friend, and I am sure the audiobook version fosters even more of the feeling that she is talking directly to you. The friendly tone also helps make this a super fast read -- even at 272 pages you can speed through as you gobble up the morsels of knowledge that are especially relevant to your creative process. The book offers a wealth of great points about creativity, and I thought it would be fun to share a few that particularly resonated with me.


We all struggle with the fears that come with creativity. Will people like my work? Should I even put it out there for the world to see and judge? Liz offers this excellent way of managing your creative fears -- plan for them and give them a designated space during your process. Rather than fighting the fear that is linked to your creativity, acknowledge that it is part of your journey. It is easy to get angry with the fear that inevitably joins along for the ride. But if you try to squash it you put your creativity at risk, since one blow could kill them both. Instead, plan that fear will be there and give it the room it needs to breathe. Doing so can help give you ease as you create, and a greater peace with the whole experience. 


A really compelling part of Liz's theories and experiences with creativity revolves around the concept that millions of ideas are out there, all around us, waiting for a host to be created through. If that's true, then wouldn't you want to be the most compelling host possible? There are endless business articles nowadays that suggest dressing nicely for work, especially if that work is from home where it is so tempting to stay in pajamas all day, will make a difference in your mindset and output. Liz presents this in an even more attractive way -- dress up for your creativity as you would a deliciously secret lover. You wouldn't meet that person for a late night romp in a ratty old t-shirt, so why would creativity be interested in you in that unappealing state? Put on your best outfit, the one that you always get compliments on. Clear the desk of clutter and light a candle. Put on some smooth music. Make it a ritual to present your best self to your creativity, and watch what happens!


When working on a big project, whether it's launching your brand, an important presentation, or a new line of products, it can be easy to fall into the trap of delaying your goals in hopes of reaching perfection. Sometimes it means you never even start at all -- why begin if you don't have the credentials, financing, or customers? Liz suggests you take away that burden of perfection (since it's completely unattainable to begin with) and just focus on completing your goal with the time and knowledge you have. As her mother always used to say: "Done is better than good." There is only so much time in this life, and it's better to get your good-enough creations out there into the world than waiting for a perfect creation that will never be.

Now that your creativity is perked up from those tips, grab a copy of the book and let me know what you think of it here! I am so interested to see which of her points resonate the most with you. And in the meantime, check out this great interview that Etsy posted with Liz back in January, which includes a fun video of how the book jacket was created. Feel free to comment below -- what are your biggest struggles, joys, and tips about creativity?

(Purchasing the book using the Amazon links above means a couple extra pennies in the jar so I can continue to provide you with awesome articles on this blog!)