• Erin Zaranec

Big Inspiration: Take-A-Ways from Big Magic

I started off my year by reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. The book is part memoir, part self help, part bootcamp for the creative soul. I absolutely adored it. Gilbert's writing is eloquent and graceful, but also gritty and realistic.


I read this book pretty slowly for my standards, absorbing every bit of wisdom Gilbert wrote. She writes of creativity as a living, breathing thing - a force to build and cultivate a relationship with.


While I would highly recommend this book, if you're hesitant to jump in or are in the midst of another read, I wanted to give you some of my key take-a-ways from the book to lead my Year of No Fear.

Gilbert defines bravery as, simply, doing something scary and fearless as not even knowing the definition of the word scary - which she views as a disadvantage for creatives and, well, humanity in general.


"...the only truly fearless people I've ever met were straight-up sociopaths and a few exceptionally reckless three-year-olds - and those aren't good role models for anyone," wrote Gilbert (pg. 22).


This theme carries throughout the book - creativity, inspiration, and ideas are all living things that want to be discovered and used. An idea may bypass you and go right to the next person because, well, you two just wouldn't make a good match.


Just as inspiration can come and go, so can ideas - even ideas you've started to put effort into. Working with creativity is just like any other relationship - you have to be compatible with your ideas to make them work.


I LOVE the approach the Romans took to the concept of genius - no person is a genius, they simply have a helpful little house elf to cultivate their ideas and creativity.


The idea of having an external genius, too, removes the pressure of having to be 'on' all of the time because your genius may have other things and its schedule and have to come and go.


Gilbert was SO REAL in this book. I adored her thoughts about how creativity is truly a nonessential human expression - she could release a terrible book, I could write an awful blog, a chef could burn an entire recipe, or an artist could drop their ceramic.... and... the world doesn't end!


Creativity is marvelous and wonderful and fun but, it doesn't make the world go round. So, have some fun with it. Chill out. Laugh through your creative process.


This has to be the best quote I've seen about the importance of self care. If you aren't looking after yourself, you can't properly look after you work. As a result, your work will suffer.


The best way to have healthy relationships with anything - your creativity, your friends, spouse, children - is to look after yourself before looking after others.



And... then there was THIS. Gilbert quotes Rebecca Solnit in the book and I could not love her thoughts on perfection anymore.


I have never been a believer in perfection. I have plenty of slight off-center pictures on my walls, missing stitches in my embroidery, and scribbles of ink from misspelled words in my journals. And that's all completely okay! I'll believe in being fun, being good, and being realistic before I'll ever believe in being perfect.

Big Magic is incredible. It's magical. It's relatable, inspiring, and fun.


A creative life is an amplified life. I am not, by any means, the most creative person in the world. But I love that I can sit in a park with my journal and write short stories, that I find joy in creating embroidery (even if its from a kit!), and that this blog is a creative outlet for me.


On my most creative days, I truly feel like the world is buzzing. It's just so fun to walk down the street and use snippets of a conversation I overheard for the base of a story. It's so fun to interview amazing people for my freelance writing. It's inspiring to get feedback from people about anything creative I do. For me, creativity amplifies my day to day - even if its just what spice mixes would taste good with dinner that night. I hope to keep this momentum going throughout and beyond 2019 and continue to live a creative life beyond fear.