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Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert: Thoughts, Notes & Quotes

I don’t remember reading a single book while growing up. Like any significant one. I barely recall a book named "Kathy's things" that I used to like back in second grade. Other than that, I thought books were the most boring thing in the world.

It took me years. I hated books until I sat down with "La Sombra del Viento" by Carlos Ruiz Zafón back in High School (but like, late high school). That's when I fell in love with reading. But no, I didn't become an instant bookworm. Believe me, I wish I read more because there's no such thing as reading too much. It never will.

The truth is I'm not an avid book reader, I just try my best to make it part of my daily life, and I enjoy sharing my journey through their pages. I finish the ones that really get my heart, and this one did.



If I had to describe this book in one word, it would be: sublime. It's a book that shifts your perspective in a very subtle way. I could not say is a book I would die to read, but my soul brightened a little more after I did.

The way Elizabeth Gilbert approaches creativity in Big Magic is just like it sounds: mystical, yet profoundly realistic. It's magical. I believe it's a book hard to recommend because some might could read it with a very skeptical mind, and this book demands you to open your heart to a new perspective on creativity.

It's like a good movie, and by a good movie, I mean a good ending. Big Magic is predictable, yet surprising. Predictable as accurate. Because you become aware of so many tiny realities that now you can not unsee. You realize every excuse to not create what you love is only that: an excuse. Creativity is not easy, but it is possible. And you have to want it so bad you don't care about the outcome.

This book is full of rich paradoxes, and I would recommend it to every artist, writer, designer, or just person looking for tiny aha-moments about their life as a creative human.

What we make matters enormously, and it doesn't matter at all.


Liz Gilbert divided this book into five (+1) parts which compound what she calls the essential ingredients for creativity: courage, enchantment, permission, persistence, and trust. The last part is called Divinity. Here are some notes (and a little bit of context) I found interesting from each one of them.


When I talk about "creative living" here, please understand that I am not necessarily talking about pursuing a life that is professionally or exclusively devoted to the arts. [...] No, when I refer to "creative living," I am speaking more broadly. I'm talking about living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.
Creativity living is a path for the brave, we all know this. And we all know that when courage dies, creativity dies with it. [...] Creativity is a path for the brave, yes, but it is not a path for the fearless.
Your fear will always be triggered by your creativity, because creativity asks you to enter into realms of uncertain outcome, and fear hates uncertain outcome.
If you can't learn to travel comfortably alongside your fear, the you'll never be able to go anywhere interesting or do anything interesting.


Ok, this is where it gets mystical — Liz talks about ideas as "energetic-life form" that "seek the most available human collaborator." Meaning they arrive at your mind and you are free of letting them in or kick them out. Either the idea will stay and get manifested through your creations, or it goes away looking for a new partner, a human brave enough to work on something worthwhile.

You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures.

Creativity is not about winning or losing — Ideas come and go, and if you choose to carry on, and turns into failure. Keep going. If it turns into success. Keep going. Move on to the next challenge while keeping your ego in check.

Just because creativity is mystical doesn't mean it shouldn't also be demystified—especially if it means liberating artists from the confines of their own grandiosity, panic, and ego.

Hard work — Though it all sounds like "fairy dust", it actually reduces to doing the work. You sit at your desk, and you get the work done. That's it. Regardless of the outcome, the fears, and the excuses.


Be stubborn — Eventually, you have to give yourself permission to living a creative life. You don't need anybody's approval. Create things just because you like them. Be stubborn with this. Go, have fun and make stuff.

You will never be able to create anything interesting out of your life if you don't believe that you're entitled to at least try. [...] Without this arrogance of belonging, you will never be able to take any creative risks whatsoever.

Defining yourself is important — What are you? A musician? An artist? A writer? A dancer? A photograph? Then say it. Put it on your bio. Mean it. No matter how amateur your feel.

If you're working on your craft every day on your own, with steady discipline and love, then you are already for real as a creator, and you don't need to pay anybody to affirm that to you.

Focus on your thing — Keep in mind if permission does not come from the external, then rewards can not either. You can not control if people are going to hate or love your craft, you are only in charge of keep doing your thing.

Recognizing this reality—that the reaction doesn't belong to you—is the only sane way to create.


Learning to endure you disappointment and frustration is part of the job of a creative person. If you want to be an artist of any sort, it seemed to me, then handling your frustration is a fundamental aspect of the work—perhaps the single most fundamental aspect of the work.
How you managed yourself between those bright moments, when things aren't going so great, is a measure of how devoted you are to your vocation.
It's far more honorable to stay in the game—even if you're objectively failing at the game—than to excuse yourself from participation because of your delicate sensibilities. But in order to stay in the game, you must let go of your fantasy of perfection.

Forget about perfect — Perfection is just a fancy name for fear. Finish your work and release it. Don't pay too much attention to the outcome. People are not thinking about you, they are thinking about themselves. Always. So do whatever you want to do, and push yourself through the tricky shame. With both seriousness and lightness.

I saw it as proof that you must never surrender, that no doesn't always mean no, and that miraculous turn of fate can happen to those who persiste in showing up. [...] But since the right moment is unknowable, you must maximize your chances. Play the odds.


Creative suffering — You need to take your beliefs seriously. Creativity is often associated to emotional distress, but "trusting in nothing but suffering is a dangerous path." Here Liz rejects "the cult of artistic martyrdom." Instead, she decides to trust love over suffering.

Be a trickster — Stop complaining and enjoy. Life is interesting. Play the game and get the job done lightly. Creative living is not a suffering contest.

What you produce is not necessarily always sacred, I realized, just because you think it's sacred. What is sacred is the time that you spend working on the project, and what that time does to expand your imagination, and what that expanded imagination does to transform your life.
Be careful of your dignity, is what I am saying. It is not always your friend.

It's all about curiosity and motion — Trust it. Passion and inspiration can come and go. But curiosity is always there, easy to find. Curiosity is what takes you to the next level. Even when your ego is wounded, and you cage yourself in a loop of guilt for failing. "Not dwell too long on your failures." Motion beats inertia: try new things, listen to your intuition, inspiration follows. The failure will departure, the creator will return. All thanks to curiosity.

The final—and sometimes most difficult—act of creative trust is to put your work out there into the world once you have completed it.
Fierce trust demands that you put forth the work anyhow, because fierce trust knows that the outcome does not matter.


I decided to turn my top 3 favourites quotes from the book into free downloadable wallpapers. Enjoy and show me how it looks via DM!

Also, if you are craving more quotes from Big Magic, you can check out this thread I built on Twitter as I was reading it.

With love,



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