Living the Creative Life: Quotes from Elizabeth Gilbert's "Big Magic"

Updated on February 23, 2017
Source

Over a year ago I read Elizabeth Gilbert's "Big Magic," a volume I often think of as a "creativity manifesto." As an experienced writer, her insights and suggestions were priceless. She urges others to make art with "stubborn gladness" no matter what else is happening. This comment alone has helped me more than I can say. I hope, quite naturally, these words will be of some use to you. Enjoy.

Have you read anything else written by Elizabeth Gilbert?

See results

“It’s a simple and generous rule of life that whatever you practice, you will improve at.”


“I did not ask for any external rewards for my devotion; I just wanted to spend my life as near to writing as possible—forever close to that source of all my curiosity and contentment—and so I was willing to make whatever arrangements needed to be made in order to get by.”


“…learning how to endure your disappointment and frustration is part of the job of a creative person. If you want to be an artist of any sort, it seemed to me, then handling your frustration is a fundamental aspect of the world—perhaps the most fundamental aspect of the work.”

“The essential ingredients for creativity remain exact the same for everybody: courage, enchantment, permission, persistence, trust—and those elements are universally accessible. Which does not mean that creative living is always easy; it merely means that creative living is always possible.”


“I think perfectionism is just a high-end, haute couture version of fear.”


“At some point, you really just have to finish your work and release it as is—if only so that you can go on to make other things with a glad and determined heart.

Which is the entire point.

Or should be.”


“Possessing a creative mind, after all, is something like having a border collie for a pet. It needs to work, or else it will cause you an outrageous amount of trouble. Give your mind a job to do, or else it will find a job to do, and you might not like the job it invents (eating the couch, digging a hole through the living room floor, biting the mailman, etc.). It has taken me years to learn this, but it does seem to be the case that if I am not actively creating something, then I am probably actively destroying something (myself, a relationship, or my own peace of mind).”

“Perhaps creativity’s greatest mystery is this: By completing absorbing our attention for a short and magical spell, it can relieve us temporarily from the dreadful burden of being who we are.”


“And if greatness should ever accidentally stumble upon you, let it catch you hard at work.

Hard at work, and sane.”


“A good-even novel violently written now is better than a perfect novel meticulously written never.”


“You may want your work to be perfect… I just want mine to be finished.”

“Creative living is stranger than other, more worldly pursuits. The usual rules do not apply. In normal life, if you’re good at something and you work hard at it, you will likely succeed. In creative endeavors, maybe not.”


“…the goddess of creative success may show up for you, or she may not. Probably best, then, if you don’t count on her, or attach your definition of personal happiness to her whims.

Maybe better to reconsider your definition of success, period.”


“Mind you, hard work guarantees nothing in the realms of creativity. (Nothing guarantees anything in realms of creativity.) But I cannot help but think that devotional discipline is the best approach. Do what you love to do, and do it with both seriousness and lightness. At least then you will know that you have tried and that—whatever the outcome—you have traveled a noble path.”

Source

“But creative living can be an amazing vocation, if you have the love and courage and persistence to see it that way. I suggest that this may be the only sanity-preserving way to approach creativity. Because nobody ever told us it would be easy, and uncertainty is what we signed up for when we say that we want to live creative lives.”


“…you must never surrender, that no doesn’t always mean no, and that miraculous turns of fate can happen to those who persist in showing up.”


“Heaven forbid anyone should enjoy their chosen vocation.”

Source

“I believe you can live a creative life and still make an effort to be a basically decent person.”


“My desire to work—my desire to engage with my creativity as intimately and as freely as possible—is my strongest personal incentive to fight back against pain, by any means necessary, and to fashion a life for myself that is as sane and healthy and stable as it can possibly be.

But that’s only because of what I have chosen to true, which is quite simply: love.

Love over suffering, always.”


“The creators who most inspire me, then, are not necessarily the most passionate, but the most curious. Curiosity is what keeps you working steadily, while hotter emotions may come and go.”

“You do not need anybody’s permission to live a creative life.”


“Because creative living is a path for the brave. We all know this. And we all know that when courage dies, creativity dies with it. We all know that fear is a desolate boneyard where our dreams go to desiccate in the hot sun. This is common knowledge; sometimes we just don’t know what to do about it.”


“Just because you don’t need your fear when it comes to creativity, of course, doesn’t mean your fear won’t show up—especially when you’re trying to be inventive or innovative. Your fear will always be triggered by your creativity, because creativity asks you to enter into realms of uncertain outcome, and fear hates uncertain outcome.”

“…all the good ideas are daunting at first…”


“I then did what you do when you get serious about a project or pursuit: I cleared space for it. I cleaned off my desk, literally and figuratively.”


“Trust me, your soul has been waiting for you to wake up to your own existence for years.”


“And because I must always be writing about something or else I will go mad, I decided to write about that—that is, to chronicle what was going on in my real life, as a way of sorting through its complications and revelations.”

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, holidappy.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://holidappy.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)