Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert


January 27, 2017 by femvestige

At the beginning of this week, I posted a content blog on my progress with Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. You can find that blog by clicking ‘here.’

Big Magic is broken into 6 sections: Courage, Enchantment, Permission, Persistence, Trust, and Divinity.

Courage discusses the ability to say YES to creativity. To fight our fear, and be brave enough to allow our creative selves to emerge.


This section was interesting, but I was not connecting with the idea yet. I allow myself to be creative every day. I paint, I write, I sing, I act. I feel that creativity is a huge part of who I am, so the idea of being courageous did not quite reach me.

Enchantment discusses the concept of the living idea, and how if we let ourselves, idea’s can enter us and give us the BIG MAGIC that the book is so aptly named for.

This section is where I really felt that big magic exists. Gilbert’s stories of her personal experience with the living idea fascinated me. I enjoy the thought that inspiration and ideas are lingering just beyond our peripheral vision waiting for us to be ready for them to enter us. Some days, I am taken with such inspiration that I feel amazed and enchanted at the thought that enters me. I think, “how the hell did I come up with this amazing idea?” The idea that inspiration has entered me delights me.

Gilbert also talks about how in ancient Rome, the expression they used to describe creativity was the creator ‘had’ a genius with them; a muse to help them create their masterpieces. That’s not to say that I do not believe I am not capable of coming up with a great idea by myself, I just like that idea’s shift and flow and transition like wisps.

Permission discusses our ability to allow ourselves to be creative. We let many things hinder our ability to be our most creative selves – be that responsibility, fear, and failure.

This section is where I began questioning how I live my life creatively. I mentioned before that I did not feel I needed courage to be creative because I already am. The idea of permission made me realize that living creatively can also apply to all aspects of life beyond the arts; I have not been living creatively in my profession. I have been holding myself back, despite the idea that entered me several months ago that I can do something bigger. My fear of responsibility and accountability stopped me from applying to a new position that felt right and perfect and fit with the idea that entered my head months before. I need to give myself permission and be courageous enough to venture beyond my current employment in order to fulfill my needs and live creatively professionally.

Persistence discusses that we need to work on living a creative life every day. If we fail, take that as a sign that we need to work harder. Invest in it.


This section was an absolute delight. It made me think, “if I really want to write more, then I need to do it.” Gilbert talks about having an affair with creativity. She said that when you are passionately involved in an affair, you would do anything to get back to it. 15 minutes making out in the stairwell is exciting and exhilarating. Though I have never had an affair, I relate this metaphor to falling in love. I want to fall in love with my creative life, and spend as much time with it as possible. Even if it means 15 minutes in the early hours of the morning before work, passionately making love one more time.

Trust discusses the concept of trusting the idea and letting it take us where we need to go; trusting in curiosity.


This section was intriguing, but repetitive. Gilbert has a lot of disdain for the ‘suffering artist’ who takes great pain in their work. I like the idea that we need to be happy with what we are doing, but I also do not need to be reminded of it 20 times in 10 pages. I felt that her constant emphasis on the suffering artist took away from the content of trust and I could not wait for her to move on. This disappointed me because she gave some truly compelling examples of how trusting in the slightest glimpse of an idea lead to a passionate love affair with an idea that grew into a best seller. I would have loved this more if it was not surrounded by the fluff of her disdain.

Divinity was rather short – only a handful of pages. It was the end of the book, and yet it was not even remotely profound as the rest of the book that I cannot recall what it was about and I finished the book yesterday. When the book finished, I thought “really? That’s it?”

Overall I truly enjoyed Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. It caused me to take action and to be more aware of my openness to ideas. For that, I feel I can thank Gilbert. That said, the last quarter of the book was weak. It felt like because she broke it into 6 sections, she had to fill it with something. The last two sections could have been cut and I would have been as impacted as I am now, but I would feel more satisfied with the overall book. I had given this book 5 stars in my progress post. Now I feel I need to retract one.


Rating out of 5: ✮✮✮✮
 Self Help, Self Improvement, Motivation/Inspiration
Best Feature:  Humor laced with no nonsense, no excuses voice
Worst Feature: Weak ending


One thought on “Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

  1. I love Liz Gilbert! I’m posting next Friday about her podcast, Magic Lessons? Have you listened to it? It’s a take off from this book and she has real conversations with regular people about their struggles with creativity. In my blog I’ve decided to only write about the things I really liked, how do you write so honestly? I could never be a reviewer in that sense, I feel too bad saying anything negative about somebody’s art, except maybe in private. I know I need to develop a thicker skin because now that I’m blogging, I know that there will be people who don’t like what I write. I have a feeling this whole experience will be eye opening for me. Anyway, I’m liking your posts. I’ll be poking around. Have a great Friday!


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