A little more than a year ago, I asked my sister to gift me two books for my birthday. One of them was “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear” by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of NY Times’ best seller “Eat Pray Love.” I stumbled upon this gem through the explore page on Instagram. The title was what initially caught my eye. You see, during this period of my life I had just launched this blog, but I was contemplating whether to keep it personal or share it with the world. My intentions when I launched it was to share it, but I wasn’t sure I was ready to let people see my inner thoughts on a screen. The thought of that made me cringe, so I kept the website private. I guess it’s because I never saw myself as a writer, only as a person that liked to write. But that’s the problem with titles and perception, they like to scare you off. I found myself craving to be creative, but fear, well let’s just say there was plenty of that to go around.
I didn’t dive into the book like I had initially planned to. For some odd reason, I couldn’t get pass page 45. A year passed and the book sat on my nightstand with every intention of being read. So one day, I came to the realization that I have a problem with following through with goals. In the effort to change this about myself, I finally picked up the book and just read, but this time I couldn’t stop reading.
I’m a firm believer that the universe talks to you through signs, and “Big Magic” was a huge sign smacking me right in the face! Maybe I wasn’t suppose to read it a year ago, because everything I needed to hear at that moment was written down right in front of me, in 273 pages.
When you read a book you love you only see the great writing, the “Big Magic.” You never see the struggle it took to make that piece of art great, and in this book, Elizabeth lets us see the other side of “Big Magic.” She shares her journey and relationship with creativity and how she has overcome failure living as a creative. So here I was, reading the book of a best seller and she was talking so candidly about her fears and struggle with finding inspiration to write. I then realized that no matter what level of writing you are in, you will always feel uncertain about your creativity, and will always feel like nothing is good enough.
At this point, my blog had already gone public and even had an Instagram to go with it (baby steps) but anything I wrote that was intended for public viewing was guarded and calculated because I was only willing to be judged on what I felt comfortable with. I was not willing to be judged on my truest self, because that would hurt my ego too much. Oddly enough, Elizabeth writes about egos in the book and how you shouldn’t let it stop you from creating.
She writes, “Do not let the ego run the show, or it will shut down the show. Your ego is a wonderful servant, but it’s a terrible master–because the only thing your ego ever wants is reward, reward, and more reward. And since there’s never enough reward to satisfy, your ego will always disappoint.”
You see, if you only create to receive praise or reward then you will never be able to create freely. I am learning to write my truth regardless of the fear of being judged negatively, because my ego is not going to run my show. I create to fulfill my soul instead of my ego.
The “aha!” moments I had were endless and truth be told, it felt like permission (not that I needed it) from a great writer, to have a seat at the writing table. Even if you’re just beginning, she makes you feel like you have the right to be there because you love it and have a passion for it, and that alone is enough to call yourself a writer.
I leave with you with a few of my favorite words from the book:
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? How fierce is your trust in that love?
You might challenge this idea of fierce trust. You might buck against it. You might want to punch and kick at it. You might demand of it, “Why should I go through all the trouble to make something if the outcome might be nothing?”
The answer will usually come with a wicked trickster grin: “Because it’s fun, isn’t it?”
Anyhow, what are are going to do with your time here on earth–not make things? Not do interesting stuff? Not follow your love and your curiosity?
There is always that alternative, after all. You have free will. If creative living becomes too difficult or too unrewarding for you, you can stop whenever you want.
But seriously: Really?
Because, think about it: Then what?