As a parent, I can also see how ideas aren’t always encouraged in education. With pressure being put on Teachers and Students to tick boxes and hit arbitrary targets, the pleasure in experimenting is at risk of getting lost. When I met another likeminded ideas person, the brainchild of fellow social enterprise Self School, this very issue came up! As the kids sat down, mapping out their idea world on big swaths of papers, Caroline discussed a book she loved. And this book is “Big Magic”

I am a little bit fascinated with the idea of creativity. Where ideas come from and how to make them stick. I really admire anyone that creates from nothing, artists of all mediums; yet I am fearful that however hard I try, I won’t generate the ideas that really make a difference. That fear of failure held me back for a long time; as I move beyond that I am really enjoying the joy that writing brings!

Big Magic Book Review Elizabeth Gilbert

The subtitle of this book is “Creative Living Beyond Fear” and Elizabeth Gilbert shares her perspective on creativity. As an internally renowned writer (surely you have heard of “EAT PRAY LOVE), it is easy to assume that she has a handle on her creative insecurities. It’s her job. She gets paid to write. Right?


Wrong; throughout this book, we are provided with an insight into the process of she has gone through as a writer. Someone who wrote for years before she became an Author. An Author who didn’t leave her day job until several of her books were published.

She champions doing something for the pure joy of it. That the purpose of creativity is simple to express. It is not about getting critical acclaim or getting paid – that validation isn’t needed. This is very similar to the approach that I have around career planning; your purpose can come from a variety of places. You can be creative alongside the other elements of your personality.

Big Magic Creative Living Beyond Fear ReviewThis book is so easy to read; part-autobiographical, part-philosophical, it really makes you think about how creativity shows up in your life and how your fears are getting in the way. We all know that feeling that we aren’t good enough, that we aren’t smart or informed or original enough. How that internal monologue convinces us to not even try; when in fact the only thing we need to do is start creating.

These are the three key areas that really made an impact on me:

1. We don’t own our ideas
Gilbert believes that the creative process is outside in. That ideas come to us, almost as a separate entity. If we then choose to ignore the idea or take it, but don’t do anything with it, then the idea will find someone that will bring it to life.
This is such as interesting perspective; how many times have you passed over an idea and then it appears in someone else’s business or project? It hurts doesn’t it, as it was “your idea”. Now, how would it feel if the idea had to simply find someone to action it? If you pass it over, you can’t complain

2. It is never too late
Often age and responsibilities stop us from pursuing our creativity – from art to dance. Often it is dropped as we can’t be the best. It won’t be a career, so then it becomes less than. Not important. Surplus to requirements. What if we just do things for the pure joy of it? How would that feel?

3. The power of curiosity
So often, fear gets in the way of curiosity. To find new ways and test. We would much rather study; this validates our potential and often then gives us the “right” to do something. For Elizabeth, her writing career stems from a promise that she made to herself as a teenager. A vow that she would write; come what may. Many of her creative peers have gone down the academic route. How often do we think a piece of paper validates our talent?
Embrace your curiosity. Meet new people; read different books; have different experiences. Draw on this to creative.

So, do you let fear stand in your way of the creative life you want? Maybe you want to paint, to craft, to write or perform? This book opens up your eyes to one version of creativity; it is something that I think should be in every library, to move us all past our fears and live a creative life.

What did you think? Join The Balance Collective with Clara Wilcox to share your creative life.
Like personal development, but don’t have the time to read? All my book reviews can be found on my blog.

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