One of the most inspiring books I’ve read in a long time is Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. You may have heard me mention it in a few of my previous posts or on social media. This book happened to find me at the end of last year when I really needed a creative kick in the but. After deciding to wind down Pressbound as my full-time business I began to ask myself what was next for me creatively. There was an overwhelming desire to explore my creative side again and not feel the pressures of having to make it public or into a business. But I was still struggling with shifting my mind set. When I made paper flowers as the centerpieces for my wedding, for instance, that immediately turned into: well I should turn this into a business. So I needed a little reassurance that creating just for myself and for the joy of making was okay. And Big Magic delivered.
Gilbert believes that creative living hinges on this central question: "Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?” These treasures are described as “strange jewels” which are buried deep inside of us all and “the hunt to uncover those jewels—that’s creative living.” The results of that hunt is what she refers to as, Big Magic.
According to Gilbert (and I’m a strong believer in this myself) a creative life is accessible to anyone, not a chosen few, and holds the potential to make our lives bigger, happier, and way more interesting. She tackles the wide array of emotions and excuses we struggle with when attempting to tap into our own creativity framing it under her essential ingredients for a creative life: courage, enchantment, permission, persistence, and trust. Because these things are accessible to all of us so too is creative living. Most importantly, throughout the book she reminds us that we don’t have to earn a living from our creative pursuits—we might, but if not "you can recognize that this is not really the point.”
In this day and age it’s so, so rare to hear someone come right out and tell you to keep your day job. Which is not meant to crush our hopes. She knows that “debt will always be the abattoir of creative dreams.” Take it from me, I learned the truth in that statement the hard way. Part of me wishes someone was there 5 years ago to tell me that holding on to my day job for as long as I can isn’t a bad idea if I want “to keep my creativity free and safe.” At least now I know that in this season of my life I don't want my creative endeavors to bare "the responsibility of paying for my life."
I 100% think you should read Big Magic if you have any interest in creative living. But I think it’s especially powerful if you are considering leaving a full-time job to pursue your creative dreams. And if you’ve already read the book and enjoyed it as much as I did, I highly suggest checking out the 12 episode Magic Lessons podcast that Gilbert recorded before the book was released this summer.