Faithful followers of this space know I love to read. In the absence of intentional reading material, I read product labels, signs, instruction manuals. Sick.
Because reading is my default behaviour I’ve never resolved to encourage or improve my practice. Though I do have aspirational reading lists: The Top 50, The Master List, 501 Must-Read Books. But then I copied someone’s resolution to read sixty books in 2016; only five books a month or slightly more than one a week. No problemo. Besides a girl needs a resolutions win whenever, however she can.
Today I finished my third book of the year. Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic is a single-sitting wonder. That is not to say it is fluffy. I had misgivings at the time of purchase; didn’t know if it had enough substance to warrant my investment of time and money.
My doubts were unfounded. Gilbert’s style is straightforward, conversational, funny. Her tone is that of a loving parent: wise advice delivered in either gentle encouragement or stark bluntness.
Here’s how she breaks the Big Magic of creativity down:
Courage: The creative life is a bigger, brighter, happier, more interesting life. To live it fully requires courage. don’t fight to keep your fears or limitations alive. Do exactly what you most dread. Understand that Fear will be there when you and Creativity head off on your road trip. Fear can have a seat and a voice but it sure as hell can’t touch the radio, make suggestions, or even think of driving.
Enchantment: According to Gilbert ideas are a life form with a consciousness and a will. However, the only way they can manifest is with an available, willing human partner. If you say no, it will find another who will say yes. Saying yes fully, humbly, and joyfully starts the adventure.
Permission: At heart (if not now, then certainly somewhere in our ancestry) we are all makers. We don’t need anyone’s permission. Live with “the arrogance of belonging” —the notion we are “allowed to have a voice and a vision of your own.” don’t accumulate debt. Quit your bitching. don’t take you or your creativity too seriously.
Persistence: Commit to your creative pursuit without quitting your day job. don’t expect your art to support you, work to support your art. Do this creative thing because you love doing it. Not for fame or fortune or to save the world. Have an affair with your creativity. Forget perfectionism. Because no one is thinking about you and what You’re doing, you are free to do as you wish. Finish.
Trust: Suffering for artistic authenticity is not part of the plan. Madness and the Tortured Artist are not part of the deal. “Work from a place of stubborn gladness.”
Trust that inspiration works with you if you work with it. Work from a place of curiosity not passion. Put your work ?out there.?
Reading a good book is fine. Having it open your mind is incredible, from where I sit.
Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.