I love writing books. Not only is it absolutely fascinating to see how other writers write and where they get their inspiration, but as a beginner writer, I know I have a lot to learn. I couldn’t tell you how many books about writing I’ve bought and read this year. Yay, writing!
Yet, for all of my hard work and focus, I seemed to be getting stuck, and spending more time second guessing myself than I was writing or editing. A lot of that was freelance work taking up my time, but I can’t blame everything on freelance work. After all, having a full-time job in Japan didn’t stop me from writing. So what was missing?
Most of the books I’d read were focused on planning, marketing, writing fast or increasing productivity. All good things! But somewhere along the way, I lost the fun part of writing—the part where you know you have no idea what you’re doing and that’s okay. That’s what Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic is all about.
Gilbert believes in creativity. Not just that it’s a worthwhile way to spend your time, but that it’s transformative and a force in itself. She gives ideas agency, but doesn’t relent on hard work either. She urges embracing the many contradictions involved in the writing process (take it seriously, but not that seriously), without trying to make sense of them. Most of all, she emphasises wonder.
Most of my writing mentors are really practical, proactive people, and I have the feeling that Gilbert’s approach is too woo-woo for most. While I don’t agree with all of her conclusions, I found that her strong belief in the magical aspects of creativity touched part of me that I’d been neglecting—the wonder. And strangely, the reminder that writing should be fun is what got me back to work, while Gilbert’s acknowledgement that any creative project might fail, and that’s okay, is also tremendously freeing. While I won’t be adopting Gilbert’s approach to writing, I think that her perspective is one I’ll be returning to again and again on my writing journey.
Big Magic on Amazon: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear