What I Got out of Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Big Magic was my Christmas present to myself and the first book I read to kick off my 2016 reading list.

The more I live, the more I embrace my creative side and appreciate all things creativity. So I was excited to read this book. While I don’t agree with all of Liz’s views, I respect them and many of her pieces of advice resonated with me. It wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read, but the insights I got from it were definitely worth it.

I love her segments with stories and wisdom. They make it easy to capture a lesson and find it again. Here are the ones that spoke to me most:

An amplified existence

This story of a woman skating because it made her feel alive and ageless encouraged me to do those things that make me feel alive and ageless. These sparks are where I meet beauty and transcendence, so I shouldn’t feel guilty about them, but appreciate them. The woman didn’t quit her job or become a champion, but she got up early three days a week for the beauty and transcendence. That’s how I want to spend my days: living creatively.

The road trip

Make room for both fear and creativity but never let fear navigate or drive. I’m no longer trying to get rid of fear but simply acknowledging that it is there, and then keeping on going. Keep on creating.

Originality vs authenticity

If it’s authentic enough, it will feel original. So stop trying to copy other people and don’t worry about doing something new. Just be yourself and express it. I trust that this is enough and that’s what will speak to people.


Write for you. Don’t write to save the world or to help someone. Write first and foremost for you and what you get out of it. Trust that people get something from us when we create what we want to create.

The Fat Kids

I’m okay with being a nobody because I’m happy spending my days doing what I love.


Don’t worry about creating great art. Create honest art. I don’t want to be a great writer; I just want to be an honest writer. Stay true to you and do the work of creating whatever is inside you.

Fun House Mirrors

My job is to create. That’s all. I don’t get to control how people respond to my work, so stop worrying about their opinions.

Tom Waits Chimes In

Creating doesn’t have to be painful. It can be fun. If it’s ready, it will come out. If it isn’t, let it go.

Taking Vows

The only thing we can control is doing the work. Don’t worry about being great. It’s not our job to be great, but to create. Vow to write no matter what.

Your Day Job

Don’t put pressure on your writing and expect it to pay the bills. Have a job and let it support you and your writing.

It Ain’t Your Baby

My writing creates me, shapes me, brings me into being.

Passion Vs Creativity

Just follow what interests you. You’ll enjoy it. Sparks. Don’t put pressure on it to be great, just go where it leads you, and if it leads you to greatness, that’s a bonus.

Hungry Ghosts

The ego wants reward. The soul wants wonder. Don’t feed the ego. Feed the soul. Don’t worry about failure, just follow wonder. Creating is the reward.

Fierce trust

Put your creations out there and trust not that you will be a success but that no matter what happens you will create.

Walk Proudly

You may have created a lobster costume and walked into a ball where everyone is dressed elegantly. But show it off. Don’t apologise or be ashamed of it. They may reject you or embrace you, but it doesn’t matter. It only matters that you own it what you create.

This last insight was the biggest one for me. The main message I got from the book is to create because you love it, and I’ve already come to that point in my life. Now the book has encouraged me to get my creations out there and not worry how people respond. Then get back to creating.

What did you get out of Big Magic?


16 thoughts on “What I Got out of Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

  1. I haven’t read Big Magic, but I’m almost done listening to her podcast “Magic Lessons”, which I kind of stumbled on by accident. Like you, I definitely don’t agree with all her views, but I’ve found some messages very helpful and encouraging. In one episode she quoted her therapist as saying, “The things you fear the most have already happened.” This was to explain how everyone is born with creative impulses, but a lot of times those impulses are squashed by harsh critique at a young age. People learn that they’re not “good artists”, and that fear of failure can sometimes keep their creativity bottled up inside. There was also some good advice on the creative process: begin your project without worrying about the audience. If you’re writing a book, write the book that *you* need to write first. That way it exists. Then you can write the second version that goes out into the world, if that first version isn’t the one you can share. I do often feel paralyzed by stage fright before I even begin a project, so I think it will help me to begin to shift my thinking away from audiences until the time is right.


    1. Ooh, I love that point about beginning a project without worrying about the audience. I definitely agree with that one, but it’s hard to do in practice sometimes. Would love to always go back to the heart of that though. Thanks for sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. While we’re recommending books, have you ever read anything by David Richo? If you’re into personal growth I think he’s as good as it gets. His website has a free download of excerpts from many of his books if you want to try before you buy. His writing is sublime.


  2. I’m reading Big magic for the second time. I’ve actually listened to it as an audio book, with the author as the narrator. I think it is a wonderful, wonderful book. Her writing and use of language is just beautiful. It has really inspired me to write much more outside of my blog. As a result, I’ve had some pieces published in Internet magazines and have sent some of my material to print magazines as well. I’m also working diligently on turning my blog into a book. One of the ideas she spoke about is how creativity visits your house, and if you don’t seize it it will will go somewhere else. I have experienced this in the past. So now, when I have an idea for an article or a poem I immediately put pen to paper. I have recommended this book to quite a few people without reservation. For me, it is the best book I have found on creativity, as far as books on writing go,
    I also just finished a very sweet small volume entitled The Mindful Writer. The author takes quotes from writers and then writes a short commentary on each following the principles of mindfulness and Buddhist thought.
    May we all continue to create and grow.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s