Living in a society where most people do not see stability on professions under the arts and social sciences is the first challenge I faced as an aspiring writer. It is hard to pursue something without enough support even from people close to you. Not just that, you have to constantly battle against self-doubt, lack of inspiration, and competition in the industry. If you are a writer or an artist of any kind, I'm sure you also have phases when you question your abilities and wonder if your craft is really for you.
It wasn't long ago when I was able to find solid answers on how to overcome challenges like these as a writer. I was in a very long writer's block couple of months ago when I came upon the book written by Elizabeth Gilbert entitled "Big Magic: How to Live a Creative Life, and Let Go of Your Fear". Thanks to this book, I was able to overcome writer's block and as I came out of that pitfall, I carried with me a solid faith to my passion and purpose as a writer. In this article, I will share with you my top 7 favorite quotes from the book which I hope will also inspire you in your journey as a creator...
I am one of those people who agree that we humans covered the concept of life with the complexity cloak when in fact, it's just supposed to be simple. Yet, even if life is "simple", I also believe that no two persons live the same life. Isn't it uniqueness that makes life exciting? For Gilbert, we are all creators in our own little ways and we all live creative lives. There is no assurance on what is in store for us as we go along our respective paths but only one thing is for sure - it is through creative living that we get a hold of our big magic. S if you're still not sure on why you are writing, let it sink in to you that you are where you are for a purpose. Make a fantastic artwork on your canvas called life.
Now that you are already assured that you have a purpose, please don't overthink it. One way most people make life complicated is by putting so much effort on planning and making sure everything is perfect before they actually move. Gilbert said that we are not required to save the world with our creativity. If you wait for the kind of inspiration dependent on other people before you start creating something, you will never truly enjoy your craft. I'm not saying that you should not make art inspired by other people or make art for other people. What I'm saying is that you should cultivate inspiration within you. Write because it feels good for you, because it makes you happy, because it helps you release your emotions. Write for yourself just like how you write for others.
There are times when no matter how inspired you are to start or continue a project, you still get overwhelmed by self-doubt. Am I good enough? Is my idea and work good enough? How do I measure up compared to other writers? For sure you already experienced asking these questions to yourself. I did too. But one thing I learned while reading the book is that if there is one edge I have among others in my field, it's my personality. As a writer, I have my own personality and no one can take that away from me. Gilbert mentioned that she values authenticity more than originality. What you want to create may have already been offered by others but what if you exert the perfect amount of personality in it, then people will love it not because it is original but because it is authentic.
Overthinking about other people's opinion on your work doesn't only happen when you are about to start your first piece. Sometimes, when people received your previous work positively (or negatively), we tend to try so hard living up (or changing) their expectations. Gilbert wants to instill in us the hard truth that people will always have something to say. It can be negative or positive but they will always react and give feedback. Yet, our motivation to create should not depend on the pat, present or future outcomes. We can use them as guide but it should never stop us from creating. The foundation of staying long in the field is by truly loving your craft. You love it so much that you do it the same way you breathe it becomes involuntary. And there is so much freedom in that.
The book talks about creativity and fear. Fear does not only visit us on the start of our careers. We may overcome it at first but it will continuously haunt us from time to time. In pursuing a career in writing just like any other path, we will face a lot of challenges and experience a lot of frustrating moments. Yet, we have to persevere because only those who do not quit will be able to reach the finish line. I agree with Gilbert that in anything that we want to achieve, it is not enough that we want it so we will start, we should also be curious enough to keep going and finish what we started. Who knows? Your breakthrough may just be around the corner.
It is normal for us to take pride on our talents and skills. And there is nothing wrong with that. There is also nothing wrong with having big dreams because it motivates us to work harder. But what will help us last long in our field is our ability to stay grounded, to not think of our craft as competition, to set realistic standards on ourselves and on other people. This is a lesson I am still in the process of learning. But what makes this special for me is because I realized that there is no final perfect state. We will always make mistakes. There are always new things to learn. We just have to live in the moment and let ourselves experience what we are ought to.
Lastly, let me talk about the passion to write. You see, the whole book is about the concept of the "big magic". Gilbert defines creativity as the relationship between us and the mysteries of inspiration. She said that there are jewels planted within us and it is through creative living that we get to discover and bring out these jewels. Now the result of such uncovering is the "big magic". I don't exactly know how that manifests. It is even weird to imagine having jewels inside of you (literally). Is "big magic" a physical thing or experience? Perhaps, it is a feeling. Because nothing feels as satisfying as being able to create something out of nothing. Creative living? It takes courage. It takes passion. The question is are we up for the challenge?
Now that you already have an idea of what creative living, I hope you were inspired the same way Elizabeth Gilbert inspired me when I read that book. But mind you, it doesn't take just one book to fully help you become a better writer. This is because you are supposed to get better everyday. It's not just because of the seven quotes I mentioned above, because you read a lot of self-help books, or because you enrolled in multiple writing masterclasses. You get better because you choose to. You start and you continue opening up yourself to experiences waiting for you every single day. I hope you get to find your big magic.