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Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear Paperback – September 27, 2016
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The Amazon Book Review
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Praise for Big Magic:
The instant #1 New York Times Bestseller
“Big Magic is a celebration of a creative life…Gilbert’s love of creativity is infectious, and there’s a lot of great advice in this sunny book…Gilbert doesn’t just call for aspiring artists to speak their truth, however daffy that may appear to others; she is showing them how.” —Washington Post
"In [Gilbert’s] first foray into full-on self-help [she] shares intimate glimpses into the life of a world-famous creative, complete with bouts of paralyzing fear and frustration, in an attempt to coax the rest of us into walking through the world just a little bit braver.” —Elle
“The Eat, Pray, Love author demystifies the tricky business of creativity. We’re all ears.” —Cosmopolitan
“Elizabeth Gilbert is my new spirit animal… I have profoundly changed my approach to creating since I read this book." —Huffington Post
“Gilbert leads readers through breaking out of their own creative ruts, finding fulfillment, and facing fear while finding balance between our spiritual and pragmatic beings in her forth coming book. Yes, please.” —Bustle
“Big Magic will resonate with writers and artists who find the process of producing work to be particularly painful…Through anecdotes about her creative failures and resourcefulness, as well as those other artists, Gilbert encourages readers to pursue a creative life ‘that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear." —Daily Beast
"Gilbert demystifies the creative process, examining the practices of great artists to shed light on finding inspiration in the every day.” —Harper’s Bazaar
“Part inspiration, part how-to, it offers up both a philosophy of creativity and advice for living a more creatively fulfilling life.”—Fast Company
“Big Magic tackles the challenges of living the creative life…Reading it is a little like having a coach by your side, cheering on your efforts – whatever they are – candidly and selflessly.” –Christian Science Monitor
“Gilbert [writes] with sincerity and humility about the joy that creativity has given her... If you enjoyed Eat Pray Love, if you are drawn to self-help or inspirational books, or if you just like to bask in another person’s positive glow, you’ll love Big Magic.” –Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“Big Magic wants to help its readers live creatively…[Gilbert believes] creativity is inside all of us, it should be expressed, and it is not selfish or crazy or foolish to do so – it is in fact the best way to live a satisfying life...[Big Magic] constitutes good advice…[in a voice that’s] charming, personable, self-aware, jokey, conversational….[and] that Gilbert does so well.” —New York Times Book Review
“A lucid and luminous inquiry into the relationship between human beings and the mysteries of the creative experience… What makes her book so immensely helpful is precisely its lived and living nature…wholly electrifying.” —Brainpickings
"Gilbert tackles heavy, sensitive subject matter but keeps it light, making what's essentially a self-help book feel like a good talk with a friend rather than a sermon." —Associated Press
“Gilbert’s trademark warmth and enthusiasm abounds...wise...[and] pointed." —Boston Globe
“Part pat-on-the-back, part slap-in-the-face, [Big Magic is] a permission slip for readers to stop making excuses and get to work… a fresh and modern surprise that fans of her work will relish." —Wichita Eagle
“Funny. Insightful. Honest. Irreverent...But, of course, most of us have read Gilbert before and these qualities find their way into all of her works. The particular form of magic in Big Magic comes in a very unusual wrapping: hope and love...Big Magic read[s] like a devotional. Like a love letter to the earnest artist inside most of our hearts.” —Books and Whatnot
“Distinctly refreshing." —TED Ideas Blog
“Big Magic will leave you feeling inspired to be curious, brave, free, and, most of all, creative.” -Lauren Conrad
"Full of chatty advice, pep talks, amusing and inspiring stories...Gilbert’s idea of living creatively may incorporate touches of magic, but she’s practical in the extreme.” —Miami Herald
“In her signature conversational style, both sassy and serious, Gilbert invokes high- and low-brow cultural references and recommends we channel our inner trickster… [Her] manifesto is a book to read through quickly, and then start again to discover any big magic you may have missed.” – KMUW
"Big Magic ripples with Gilbert’s enthusiasm, choice metaphor, and humor." -LitHub
“Gilbert will completely change the way you think about the creative process.”—Indienext
“The writing here is so friendly and funny that Gilbert’s perspective on creative living goes down like lemonade in summer." —BookPage
“From the deeply self-aware, poetically gifted author of Eat, Pray, Love comes... the best nonfiction book I’ve read in years. For anyone who's ever struggled with feeling worthy to express themselves through art, or been discouraged by the absence of inspiration, I'm not being hyperbolic when I say this book might just change your life.” —Mind Body Green
“Inspirational… Big Magic provides a guidebook for anyone wanting to live a more creative life. You don’t have to be an artist to get value out of this book; it is for anyone who wants to live with more joy, love, happiness, and abundance in their world.”—YAHOO! SHOPPING
“Gilbert, author of the wildly successful memoir “Eat, Pray, Love” and a successful novelist (“The Signature of All Things”) offers her prescriptions for unlocking the creativity within.” —Seattle Times
“Whatever your artistic pursuit, you’ll nod in agreement as Elizabeth Gilbert reflects on the elusive, frustrating and sometimes comically strange process of creativity. Thoughtful and funny, Gilbert makes an excellent case for doing whatever it takes to unlock your inner artist and find more joy in life.” —Woman's Day
“What Gilbert’s offering her fans…[is] permission to be creative…[She] is interested in the importance of creativity for the individual’s soul…When you hear the people who want to create, and the gratitude they feel toward [her], you can’t help feeling that she’s healed them—that she has, in fact, become the kind of guru she once sought.” —The New Yorker, on the "Magic Lessons" podcast series
“The latest from Gilbert is all about you—that’s 268 pages of practical advice for tapping into your own creativity... Consider her your own personal life coach.”—Marie Claire
"A must read for anyone hoping to live a creative life... I dare you not to be inspired to be brave, to be free, and to be curious.” —PopSugar
“Elizabeth Gilbert is an exceptionally gifted author…and this book is remarkable…. It is so densely packed with pearls of wisdom that I read it once for pleasure, and then again to unpack and outline the text just like I used to do in college…A must-read for anyone on the creative spectrum, from those who don’t think there is a creative bone in their body to those who make a living from their artistic expression.” –Yakima Herald
“Reading Big Magic is the next best thing to hiring Elizabeth Gilbert [as your] coach.”—PARNASSUS BOOKS
“A joyful ride through the enigmatic jungle of creative existence… [Big Magic] is not just about the production of artistic works but about building a life that nurtures the creative being in all of us.”—CREATIV Magazine
"Big Magic [is ]… fearless of voice and heart-opening in authenticity; in short, a book worthy of its name." —Literary Inklings
“A conversational, intimate glimpse into Gilbert’s process and philosophy, as personable as a confab over coffee… essential reading for anyone who wants to live a larger life, filled with more ideas, more projects, and more fulfillment…Big Magic is powerful stuff.” –Barnes & Noble Blog
“A book-length meditation on inspiration.” —Newsday
“Whether you long to write the great American novel or you just want to be more present and mindful in your daily life, you can find plenty of inspiration in this self-help tome… … the can-do, optimistic tone makes for an uplifting read.” –All You Magazine
"[Gilbert will] make you feel giddy about creation." –Medium
"Gilbert mines her writer's career to provide unique, inspiring and constructive insights on how to navigate the wild ride that is the creative life... Her charming nuggets are wise, comforting and ultimately encouraging." –About.com
“Gilbert offers helpful suggestions for outwitting writer’s block and perfectionism...and lets a tart sense of humor emerge." -Columbus Dispatch
“Anyone living with some manifestation of writer’s block (or any other artistic variant of such affliction) will find [Gilbert's] sage advice is effectively a worthwhile kick in the butt… Without the smallest hint of narcissism, the mega-bestselling author shares the pinnacles and pitfalls of failure and success and how to wrangle the criticism, inside and out.”—Steamboat Pilot & Today
“Gilbert sweetly yet powerfully nudges readers to release fear, summon courage and allow the ‘strange jewels’ hidden within each of us to emerge and shine. The end result is the ‘big magic’… Engaging storytelling mixed with personal anecdotes and astute insights make Big Magic a rewarding, motivating and delightful read.” —Sucess Magazine
“There's nothing hippie-dippy about Gilbert's raw, honest, and downright hilarious observations of her own creative plight...This isn't a How-To guide for creative living; this is the story of how one woman simply figured things out for herself, and learned how to live in harmony with her own creative soul. All can find a kind of solemn peace and reassurance in her words.” -Everyday eBook
“A transformative nonfiction treatise on creativity…Filled with her signature humor, big-heartedness, wild vulnerability and wisdom, Gilbert delivers a vibrant and inspirational book.” -About Town Magazine
"A booster that will help you out of any rut.” -Kansas City Star
"The author of Eat Pray Love, who has already changed so many lives, now looks to change thinking on creativity." -The New York Daily News
“Worth a read for any artist struggling for some peace and quiet in a head bursting with creativity."
– Bustle, Included in “9 Books To Help You Find Inner Peace”
"Some might call Elizabeth Gilbert by the name Queen Midas … Everything she touches seems to turn to gold. A rare gift, this book acknowledges difficulty, but empowers its readers to transcend it in the name of the beautiful mysteries of existence.” —WNC Woman Magazine
“A magnificent guide to how to be creative…[and] a heartfelt gem… I simultaneously wanted to quickly turn the page to see what was next while savoring the advice on each page… Gilbert is determined to guide you into the light. Go with her.” —Jersey Journal
"Irresistible…If creativity is something you value highly—both in others and as fundamental to your own existence—you should find much to love in Big Magic, whether or not you typically gravitate toward creativity guides.” —Chapter 16
"A non-fiction tour-de force...pragmatic, rational, and wholly convincing." —Reader's Digest UK
“A treasure map to unleash your most creative and expressive life.” –Marie TV
“Big Magic seeks to both inspire you and strip you of any excuse to not pursue your creative interests…[it’s] passionate, down-to-earth and bursting with Gilbert’s obvious love for the subject matter and her readers… a delight to read.” –Pop Mythology
“An empathetic and inspiring guide to mustering the courage to live a creative life. … Nearly anyone who picks up this self-help manual should finish it feeling inspired, even if only to dream of a life without limits.” —Publisher's Weekly (starred review)
"Gilbert serves as an enthusiastic coach for readers who want more out of life. Highly recommended." —Library Journal (starred review)
“Gilbert’s wise and motivating book of encouragement and advice will induce readers not only to follow specific artistic dreams but also to live life more creatively, fully, and contentedly.” – Booklist
"The sincerity, grace, and flashes of humor that characterize [Gilbert’s] writing and insights should appeal to a wider audience…warmly inspirational.” —Kirkus
About the Author
Elizabeth Gilbert is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Eat Pray Love and several other internationally bestselling books of fiction and nonfiction. Gilbert began her career writing for Harper's Bazaar, Spin, The New York Times Magazine and GQ, and was a three-time finalist for the National Magazine Award. Her story collection Pilgrims was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway award; The Last American Man was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. The follow-up memoir Committed became an instant #1 New York Times bestseller. Her latest novel, The Signature of All Things, was named a Best Book of 2013 by The New York Times, O Magazine, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, and The New Yorker. Gilbert’s short fiction has appeared in Esquire, Story, One Story, and the Paris Review.
From the Hardcover edition.
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This was the message I (apparently) desperately needed to hear. I’m a stay-at-home mom with three young children. And when people ask me what I do, that is what I always tell them. But that isn’t what I want to tell them. What I want to tell them—what I want to shout from the rooftops, in fact—is that I’m a writer. Sure, barely anyone reads what I write, I’ve never been published, and it probably goes without saying that I’ve never been paid for a single sentence. In other words, no one really gets anything out of my work but me. But I love it, straight up. So I keep writing, regardless.
Yet it feels weird to declare yourself “A Something!” when that something doesn’t earn you money or status or likes or hits or retweets. Which means even though this side-passion feels so authentically “me,” I hide it so people won’t think I’m a loser, an imposter, a wannabe, an embarrassment, a failure…and the list goes on.
I guess this reality had been bumming me out more than I realized, because when I read the following words, they resonated with me in an unimaginably powerful and loving way--like I was receiving a cosmic hug:
“Shake yourself free of all your cumbersome ideas about what you require in order to become ‘creatively legitimate’… You do not need a permission slip from the principal’s office to live a creative life. Or if you do worry that you need a permission slip—THERE, I just gave it to you… Now go make something.”
In other words, Gilbert’s message is this: accept that you need to create. Accept that this is a part of you, that you are ALREADY “creatively legitimate.” And just do what you naturally feel compelled to do. Do it with joy—even when it gets difficult—and don’t worry about how it will be received (if it’s received at all). If you are called to be a maker, then you will just have to make. Own who you are, for better or worse.
So that’s what I’m doing from now on. I’m owning it. This is me stating my intent:
Hello, world. My name is Ladybug. I am a writer.
-it is not a dense, instructional, or academic primer about creativity.
-although Gilbert applies her thinking to all types of creativity, it's not really about anything but writing. Gilbert is a writer, and her examples are about writing. Although, someone who needs inspiration to pursue that creative hobby they've always loved may find some here.
-it's not high brow, and nothing Gilbert talks about is researched or proven. I guess that relates to the first point, which is that
This is a very *light* book. It's an encouraging book. And it's a book that contains, I think, some ideas you may not have heard before, or ideas we don't hear enough. Namely the idea that if you think about inspiration and writing ideas as independent spirits floating about in the ether, you need to do everything you can to attract them. Also that there's no reason to suffer for art, but there's every reason to enjoy it.
I don't really think Gilbert meant for her ideas to constitute a "religion of writing." But it's helpful to think about, in terms of your own positivity, dedication, and openness to creativity. Gilbert assures us that if we approach writing with joy, if we ignore all of the excuses we create not to write (I'm not good enough, I'm too old, I don't have an MFA, it will never pay, etc etc), and make space for creativity in our lives, that the writing will come, and it will be fulfilling.
I gave this book 4 stars because anytime I picked it up and read a few pages (I deliberately took more than a year to finish it), I was guaranteed to write afterward. So that's how I used it. Whenever I needed encouragement, I read a few pages. Whenever I was feeling overwhelmingly negative about writing, I read a few pages. Whenever I was convinced that I would never write a decent word, I read a few pages. In this way, I savored the book like Charlie savors his bar of chocolate for a whole month, nibbling at it in the dead of night when he needed it most.
In sum, I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone who is looking to study, or intellectually explore creativity. I would absolutely recommend it to anyone who wants to write. It worked for me. And I'll come back to it again whenever I'm feeling low about writing, because without fail, it made me want to write. And that's it.