I recently finished reading ‘Big Magic’ by Elizabeth Gilbert which I highly recommend.
It’s core message is about how we need to live more creatively. But what does this mean?
I didn’t fully understand what she meant by this since I thought I had pretty much lost all my creativity in the corporate cubicle.
In a nutshell, living creatively means allowing yourself to be led by your curiosity and inspiration, rather than living from a place of fear.
We all want to be successful famous writers but what happens when we stress out too much about things we cannot control…such as hitting best-seller lists or how many books you will ultimately sell?
Yes there are techniques you can do to boost book sales but at the end of the day you need to question what matters most. That you sold a ton of books or that you enjoyed the process that got you there?
When I was in the corporate world, I was fixated on the outcome and the results. I achieved great results but rarely enjoyed the process or work involved. Often there were painful trade-offs. More money meant more time stuck in an office, not exercising or eating well and feeling constantly drained and tired.
When I started writing full-time, I fell into this same trap again, pushing myself to my limits and trying to get a book out as soon as possible. But when I felt burned out again, I thought to myself ‘how is this any different to the corporate life I just left?’.
Writing has always been a source of joy and fun and I want to keep it joyful and fun. That is why I write this blog. Its my space to talk freely and openly, to share my lessons learnt and to have fun. I don’t expect anything from this blog other than sharing and interacting with my readers.
I want to enjoy the process of writing and creating my books as well as enjoying the results. I do not want to be selling millions of books if it costs me my freedom, health or personal sense of peace.
So having read Liz Gilbert’s book, here are the top lessons I learnt which I am beginning to apply to my life in an effort to live more creatively, both in writing and in my personal life.
- It takes courage to live creatively. Jack Gilbert, a renowned poet asked a student what she wanted to do with her life. She replied with ‘I want to be a writer’. He replied with ‘Do you have the courage? Do you have the courage to bring forth this work? The treasures inside of you are hoping you will say yes’.
- You need courage to go on the hunt to uncover these treasures within yourself. This is what moves you from a mundane existence to an enchanted treasure hunt. This is what Gilbert calls Big Magic.
- Creative living is about living a life that is driven strongly by curiosity rather than fear.
- The creative process is both magical and magic. Ideas collide with one another in their own unique manner. You just need to be paying attention to the process.
- The best way to collaborate with ideas is when you are open and relaxed to receiving something. You know when you are hit by an idea because it makes you excited, catches you off guard, gets you obsessed.
- Ideas spend all their times swirling around, looking for the perfect collaborator. But you only notice these ideas when you are open and receptive to them and not consumed by your own dramas, distractions and insecurities.
- Capture all your ideas as they come. Because they will come and go! Sometimes you are hit by an idea and are totally consumed by it. In fact JK Rowling said that the story of Harry Potter arrived to her fully formed on the train and all she had to do was let it pour through her onto the page.
- You do NOT need anybody’s permission to live a creative life.
- Creativity is a vital privilege that needs to be cultivated if you wish to interact with life more vividly.
- Originality vs. Authenticity: when Picasso saw the ancient cave paintings at Lascaux he remarked ‘we have learnt nothing in 12,000 years’. When you are authentic, you become original.
- You don’t need a degree to be creative. If you are working on your craft everyday with steady discipline and love, then you are already a creator.
- Don’t expect your creativity to pay your bills. It doesn’t have to take care of you. But you must take care of it- never give up on creativity. Do not demand external recognition for it. Give to it. Give your time, devotion and commitment to it.
- Every job has parts of it that you won’t like. You can never have a job that you love 100% of the time.
- Frustration is a part of the creative process. Frustration is not an interruption to the creative process; frustration IS the process. How you manage yourself when frustration strikes is a measure of your devotion to your vocation. Holding yourself together through all phases of creation is where the real work lies.
- Trust in the creative process and know that it is not rooted in pain and suffering, but love and freedom. (Don’t prescribe to the ‘starving artist’ myth- I certainly don’t! My intention is to create a multi six figure income from my writing!).
- Creativity is sacred yet it also does not matter. (This took me a while to get my head around). What we do matters…yet at the same time doesn’t matter in the bigger scheme of things.
- Treat your creativity with seriousness i.e. turn up and do the work diligently, but with lightness, i.e. let go of the outcome, have fun.
A key learning for me here is the last point above, learning to let go of the outcome and have some fun! As long as I put in the work, I know my author business will be a success because of the love, care and attention I put into it.
Of course I want to be a famous author selling millions of books, I mean who doesn’t? But what I intend to do now is to let go of the outcome and focus on the doing the work necessary. I trust the outcome will take care of itself.
What are you doing to live more creatively?