I have already told you about another book that changed my life. This one also has magic in the title, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence.
Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic is mainly about creativity. It addresses the way we conceptualise artists and their inspiration. Liz Gilbert takes you on a journey to rethink creativity and your relationship with it.
She first discusses the cursed artist stereotype, burdened with their talents and describes how it was historically constructed. She goes on to show that this construction is detrimental to artists and deprives us of inspired artists in the long run. She then proceeds to open an alternative option that allows an artist to work in delight.
This is one of the most vital parts of her book. Instead of speak of people as being genii – the way we have done since the Renaissance –, she suggests we go back to saying people have a genius, which is like a muse we work with to create works of art. That way, if the result is excellent, you cannot take full credit for it, and if the result is terrible, it’s not entirely your fault. So down go the stakes and the anxiety. Pretty cool, huh?
That book taught me two crucial things. The first one is the way she envisions how ideas and creativity work — that’s the Big Magic bit. In her mind, ideas are concepts with a will and one wish: to take shape in the physical world. Books, films, inventions, everything. When an idea wants to take form, it will visit a human (or several of them) to try and find a partner that will work them into the physical world. They will visit person after person until they find someone. If an artist says yes to the idea, it’s the beginning of a partnership.
The second skill I developed with this book is to let go of other people’s reactions. Sometimes they like what I write, sometimes they don’t. The difference now is that I realise that what is really precious to me is the process: crafting the plot, witnessing my characters come alive within my creative space and get all excited about the writing itself.
If you are interested in the book, I recommend you go and watch Liz Gilbert’s brilliant Ted Talk.