- ‘The older you get, the more fragile you understand life to be. I think that’s good motivation for getting out of bed joyfully each day.’ – Julia Roberts
- ‘Change your life today. Don’t gamble on the future, act now, without delay.’ – Simone De Beauvoir
- ‘The secret of getting ahead is getting started.’ – Mark Twain
- ‘If you can dream it, you can do it.’ – Walt Disney
- ‘I attribute my success to this – I never gave or took any excuse.’ – Florence Nightingale
- ‘There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.’ – Nelson Mandela
- ‘Aim for the moon. If you miss, you may hit a star.’ – W Clement Stone
- ‘Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new centre of gravity. Don’t fight them. Just find a new way to stand.’ – Oprah Winfrey
- ‘Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.’ – Ralph Waldo Emerson
- ‘If you ever think of giving up, remember why you held on for so long.’ – Hayley Williams (of Paramore)
- “The two terrors that discourage creativity and creative living are fear of public opinion and undue reverence for one’s own consistency.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
- “Write while the heat is in you. The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with. He cannot inflame the minds of his audience.” – Henry David Thoreau
- “And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” – Sylvia Plath
- “For something to be great, there has to be some kind of trial or some type of struggle that actually makes it special or valuable to you. Otherwise, anything could be easily taken for granted.” – Hayley Williams (of Paramore)
- “I like the idea of not being afraid of letting your imagination rule you, to feel the freedom of expression, to let creativity be your overwhelming drive rather than other things.” – Florence Welch
- “A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life. Living in this manner – continuously and stubbornly bringing for the jewels that are hidden within you – is a fine art, in and of itself.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
- “Art is what you can get away with.” – Andy Warhol
- “The comfort zone is the great enemy to creativity; moving beyond it necessitates intuition, which in turn configures new perspectives and conquers fears.” – Dan Stevens
- “The chief enemy of creativity is ‘good’ sense.” – Pablo Picasso
- “Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known.” – Oscar Wilde
Yesterday evening I finished reading ‘Big Magic’ by Elizabeth Gilbert and I feel lucky to have read a book that connected so profoundly with my own state of mind, my own needs and my own perspective. It reminded of a fact which I have forgotten since studying at University; that creating art can be fun. University puts so much emphasis on masterpieces and the genius of those who make it into the literary canon that I have forgotten the nuances of creative experience. This book reminded me not to put so much pressure on myself, I do not have to write pieces for the express purpose of them being profound or important, instead I can create and write for the joy of it.
Here are five of the most important lessons that I took from ‘Big Magic’:
1. Do not be fearful of your art, be playful and curious with it
I think that most people who create anything go through periods where they are too scared to pick up a pen, a paint brush or whatever their implement of choice because they are worried about the outcome. Either they are scared of people laughing at what they have created, they fear that they will feel let down by their own efforts or that they will not find any inspiration to engage with. Firstly, Gilbert reminds us that the act of just focusing on creating art in whatever form is a human victory in itself and if someone laughs at you for it then you can feel sorry for them for completely missing the point of a creative existence. Secondly, being self-critical is okay in small doses but once in a while we should give ourselves a pat on the back for just exercising our creative energies whether we created something we loved or not because at least we are teaching ourselves and bettering our creativity during the process. Thirdly, inspiration comes in many forms, sometimes it is clear and easy to decipher, at other times it seems to hide from us and we have to tease out it’s content bit by bit through being open and determined to find that next creative spark.
2. Do not take yourself too seriously, your art will suffer if your ego takes control
“How you manage yourself between those bright moments, when things aren’t going so great, is a measure of how devoted you are to your vocation”
Something about this quote from the book really resonated with me. When I am going through patches where I feel that my creativity has dried-up and I am just producing inane drivel I feel so frustrated and angry at creativity, I blame it for leaving me adrift. However, there is no point on sitting around aimlessly waiting for a lightning bolt of genius to hit you and gift you the bulk of a novel on a silver platter. Equally there is no point in refusing to create in these dry patches because you believe that you have too much self-respect to create something anything less than greatness – that is your ego talking. Keep creating just for the sheer hell of it, this is your life and if you feel a calling to live your life creatively then you have to ride the rough with the smooth and keep exercising those creative energies whilst keeping the faith that the incomparable feeling of inspiration will visit you again when both you and it are ready.
3. You do not have to go through pain or misery to produce good and profound art
Creating should be fun, however this is never a point which is emphasised within the arts. Instead, I have been lectured numerous times on the individual pains which the great writers went through to write their famous works. It is almost like we are taught that creating has to be a form of purgatory, we cannot enjoy it, instead it must be torture and it has to be agony to produce whatever it is that we want to. There is a myth that any profound art must come from a place of darkness where a person has struggled against hatred of the creative process to bring their idea into reality. I know that creativity can sometimes be frustrating but why can’t it also be fun? Why can’t I be playful with my inspiration and ideas rather than have to permanently suffer because of them?
4. The Earth will not stop spinning if your creation is not perfect
“while it’s definitely true that failure and criticism will bruise my precious ego, the fate of nations does not depend on my precious ego.”
Sometimes we can be paralysed by the fear that what we have created is not good enough and so we will do nothing with it. I have fallen into this trap many times, the notion that if I am not writing with the intention of producing a master piece or something profound and original then I shouldn’t write at all. However, if I take a step back I can see how ridiculous this is! Who the hell has the authority to decide what a masterpiece is anyway? I can create because I love to and to hell with anyone who says that the imperfections in my writing make it stupid and pointless, the imperfections they see in my writing are probably what makes it distinct and mine anyway. Plus, nothing dramatic is going to happen if I produce something which is nearer the crappy end of the scale rather than the genius end. Sure, it will be disappointing and I will be sad about it but then the world goes on and I will take what I need to from that experience and move on because no big seismic shift will occur in the world because I produced a story with blatant plot holes and grammatical errors.
5. Creativity should be cherished
“I am referring to the supernatural, the mystical, the inexplicable, the surreal, the divine, the transcendent, the otherworldly. Because the truth is, I believe that creativity is a force of enchantment – not entirely human in its origins.”
As you can see from the quote, Gilbert talks and thinks about creativity in a reverential way. She speaks about it like it is a force which is outside of our understanding, unpredictable and totally, divinely, beautiful. I believe this too. I cannot explain creativity or inspiration, its ebbs and its flows. Sometimes it shines its full grace on me and I feel completely immersed in the magical feeling of imagination, purpose and art. Other times its a little trickier to place and I have to pursue inspiration with a renewed sense of determination. Either way, creativity is a hard idea to pinpoint precisely because of its unknown nature. People who live a creative life place their trust and faith in a force which can seem like it is playing them at times; teasing them with an idea just outside of their grasp. However, the way creativity can light-up our lives and bring us out of the usual routine of things surely means that it should be cherished, respected and revered.
1.“The essence of independence has been to think and act according to standards from within, not without.” – Aleister Crowley
2. “This world is but a canvas to our imagination.” – Henry David Thoreau
3. “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
4. “The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
5. “For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.” – Vincent Van Gogh
6.“There is darkness in light, there is pain in joy, and there are thorns on the rose.” – Cate Tiernan
7. “The planet does not need more successful people. The planet desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, story tellers and lovers of all kind.” – the Dalai Lama
8. “Freedom lies in being bold.” – Robert Frost
9. “Forever is composed of nows.” – Emily Dickinson
10. “I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart. I am. I am. I am.” – Sylvia Plath