Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
When my friend A and I started up our writing group last semester (which sadly no longer exists in its brick-and-mortar form, as A has moved to another state. Thank goodness for Skype), she got me this book as an inspiration. I’ve been trying to tap into my creativity and try my hand at creative writing after a since-early-college hiatus, as well as develop better discipline with my academic writing. I had tried and rejected Eat, Pray, Love after 40 pages, so I was nervous about how Big Magic would go. Thankfully, this one had a lot of helpful and inspiring advice for me.
Big Magic is all about exploring creativity without fear or regret. Gilbert tells quite a few stories about her own experiences as a writer and she provides a lot of wisdom and advice, using her marginal success until Eat, Pray, Love to discuss the reality of the publishing industry and the nature of art itself. She discusses the nuts-and-bolts of writing and publishing with a steely-eyed candor that is both refreshing and startling. It certainly helped me view my own aspirations with more levity and practical than before.
At first, I thought Elizabeth Gilbert’s style was kind of cheesy. There was a lot of overly cheerful anecdotal writing in the first few chapters that just turned me off. But as I kept reading, this hokey tone gave way to a firm yet compassionate encouragement into creativity. The section on persistence is really the best part of the book. She talks about discipline in a way that motivated me to get back into my academic writing groove. She also demystifies a lot of the romance that surrounds “the Muse” and “writing,” which was also refreshing. This would be good for fans and non-fans of her other work. While this did not inspire me to pick up Eat, Pray, Love again, it definitely helped me think more positively of my own ambitions and challenge myself to be more persistent in my writing practice.