Big Magic: Creative living beyond fear book by Elizabeth Gilbert Book summary and review

Big Magic: book summary and review

Continuing to our series of review about hand picked books, today we will see summary and review the book Big Magic. Here is a “Big Magic” book Summary and review.

  • Big Magic Book Summary & Review
  • Author: Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Genre: Non-fiction
  • Awards: The instant #1 New York Times bestseller
  • About: Self help book about living a creative life
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

“Big Magic: Creative living beyond fear” is a self help book on how to live life as creative as the author (Elizabeth Gilbert) herself by describing her creative process. Author refers to “creative living” as more broadly about living life that is an amplified life, a bigger life. It is also about bringing forth the jewel that are hidden within you. This is what she defines as Big Magic.

About Elizabeth Gilbert

The author Elizabeth Gilbert is actually a fiction writer and has been writing stories and novels for a long. However, exception to her fiction writing are her 2 books. First one was “Eat, Pray, Love” which was published in 2006 which is almost a decade before her second non fiction book “Big Magic”. Eat, Pray, Love sold 10 million copies and as a fact people almost forgot about her fiction writing.

I believe her experience as fiction writer has a greater role to play in the success of her book “Big Magic”. Like a story, her non fiction book will also keep you engaged through out. So she has been able to cover the larger subject of “creativity” in a way that sounds like an interesting talk over a coffee with a friend.

Book Summary & Review: Big Magic: Creative living beyond fear

The book “Big Magic” starts by defining creativity as “The relationship between a human being and the mysteries of inspiration” and then is divided into 6 parts:

  • Courage
  • Enchantment
  • Permission
  • Persistence
  • Trust
  • Divinity

Lets see what the book has to say about each of these sections as below:

6 part Summary of Big Magic Creative Living beyond fear book for review
6 parts summary of book- Big Magic: Creative Living beyond fear

Summary of Big Magic book part I: Courage

You need the courage to bring forth the jewels that are hidden within you. Creative living is a path for the brave and not a path for the fearless. However, Elizabeth do not suggest to kill the fear. Instead, acknowledge your fear and make space to leave with it.

That’s right, the first lesson to live creative life in the Big Magic book is to live with your fear. 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, then you’ll never be able to go anywhere interesting or do anything interesting.

The less I fight my fear, the less it fights back. If I can relax fear relaxes, too.

– Quote from Big Magic: Creative living beyond fear

Bringing our inner treasures to light takes work, faith, focus, courage and hours of devotion.

Summary of Big Magic part II: Enchantment

This part is about how ideas exists on the planet and are in continuous search of human partners to materialize. “Ideas have no material body, but they do have consciousness, and they most certainly have will,” she writes. Once they find the available and willing human partner, It will try to get attention. If you miss signals and the idea realizes that you are not aware of the message then it will move on. When ideas are able to grab your attention, you still have choice to accept or reject working on the idea.

“Be ready. Keep your eyes open. Listen. Follow your curiosity. Ask questions. Sniff around. Remain open.”

– Quote from Big Magic: Creative living beyond fear

In this section, author also explains her process of how to work with idea through an example of one of her novel (which she could not complete) Author also believes if you are not able to continue working on it, idea also goes away from you in search of another willing human.

Summary of Big Magic part III: Permission

Creative living is doing your own thing and following your own path. If you are supporting yourself financially and you are not bothering anyone else, then you are free to do whatever you want with your life. So never ask for permission to do anything. Just go make stuff.

Bring out your creativity to satisfy yourself. You need not think about helping others with your creativity.

You are not required to save the world with your creativity – Big Magic: Creative living beyond fear

You also need not have credentials from higher education to prove you have creativity inside you. Further, stop complaining if you want to live a more creative life.

The guardians of high culture will try to convince you that the arts belong only to a chosen few, but they are wrong and they are also annoying. We are all the chosen few. We are all makers by design. Let people be in love with their opinions, just as you and I are in love with ours. But never delude yourself into believing that you require someone else’s blessing (or even their comprehension) in order to make your own creative work.

We’re all related, after all, so there’s going to be some repetition of creative instinct. Everything reminds us of something. But once you put your own expression and passion behind an idea, that idea becomes yours.

Summary of Big Magic part IV: Persistence

A simple rule of life is that whatever you practice, you will improve at. Elizabeth shares her emotions patterns of creativity which she recognised due to her discipline of practice writing everyday. She would begin to lose heart for a project within few weeks and begin to fear about not being able to complete the project or fear about bad reviews even if it gets completed. These fears are completely natural human reactions to interaction with unknown. To get through this, you need to trust your inspiration and creativity.

You should not burden your creativity with the responsibility of paying for your life. Financial demands can put much pressure on the delicacies of inspiration. When creativity fails on finance, many people quit creating at all.

– Quote from Big Magic: Creative living beyond fear

It is far more honourable to stay in the game even if you are objectively failing at the game than to excuse yourself from the participation because of your delicate sensibilities.

Summary of Big Magic part V: Trust

Being creative is certainly not a smooth journey. Most people love their creativity but at the same time they doubt if their creativity also loves them back. Many also go a step further and start to believe in all discomfort and emotional distress comes with it. They start to believe in “No blood, no glory.” Trusting in nothing but suffering is a dangerous path. Still many artists were taught to trust in the darkness. Many artists end up believing in addiction of drugs or alcohol only because it’s easier to get addicted than it is to commit yourself wholeheartedly to your craft.

Instead, trust your creativity. Trust your curiosity. Say yes to tiny clues of curiosity you notice around you. It may lead to your big magic which you may not see coming at the beginning. While putting your creation open to the world, have fiercest trust in it. Fierce trust is not about the outcome. It’s not about being certain of success. Fierce trust is all about knowing you are worthy, regardless of outcome. It’s about trusting your creative process even when you don’t understand the outcome.

Summary of Big Magic part VI: Divinity

The final section in this book has a story from Bali about creativity in Balinese dance and how it evolved from a ritual performance in temple to a modern refined dance performed at resorts and the new sense of freedom further transformed the dance to quite magnificent.

Finally, to review the book “Big Magic”, it is made of various short stories. These stories further turns to a meaningful conclusion about living creative life. As the name suggest, this book will show you ways to deal with your fears and will give you the courage you need to pursue your creative journey. This book also inspire one to find some time in life to do something you really enjoy doing. Most importantly for only reason you enjoy doing it and not for financial success or not for others to accept it. So more than pursuing creativity as your professional career, this book will inspire you to live a life that is driven by your curiosity and not by fear.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Learn more about Creative thinking skills.

While the author tries to connect her experiences with self help tips through short stories. Most example in the books are about writing. Overall for this book review we give Big Magic 8 ratings out of 10.

Below is an interview with the author, Elizabeth Gilbert on her book “Big Magic” Interview by Shad at “Q” magazine studio:

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